Picking Sides (Redux)

Take a look here, for our brief explanation of today’s (Tuesday 6th November) posts.

There are two sides fighting over the presidency in America today. The same can be said of Congress in a more general voice. Is that not strange, that there are only two sides? Technically they’re are more candidates, but you’ve never heard of them and quite frankly I can’t be bothered to explain who they are. I know a couple of their names, but that’s all. I read a BBC article about them and that’s all I need to know, to know they exist. Which is more than most people. Britain has a coalition in government, but no-one really pays much attention to the Liberal Democrats. They used to, mind you, until they, the LibDems, decided that sticking to platforms that get you elected was for chumps and they lost whatever goodwill they had left. I digress. There is no rule that the leaders of the country can only come from two ideologically opposed origins but that’s what we all pretty much have. And soon we will be left with two parties that are essentially the same, fighting over semantics. At least that’s what we all thought until the Tea Party showed up and ruined everyone’s breakfast.

I honestly thought that political parties didn’t really have much left to argue over, the big things at least. They will always have the nittygritty to haggle over but the big things, well, it’s the end of history, haven’t you heard? The middle ground is the only real battle ground, that’s why we have all had to hear endless droning about ‘swing states’ in the electoral college (which, by the way, is the hands down most idiotic form of democracy ever, and you can quote me on that). There is no space for Independents to run in elections any more. They can’t compete with the established parties for clout or cash, and are always going to be a footnote’s bitch in the history books. And by Independents I am lumping in the Greens, and all the other small parties that are pretty much single issue parties. And no they don’t highlight specific issues for the big parties to consider, they are irrelevant (this is more of a comment on American politics, in Europe it’s a bit different). Multi-party politics is a race to the centre; honestly, the relevance of your vote is actually diminishing in every election. Or is it?

The only thing that would make me reconsider this viewpoint is the strength of something like the Tea Party and the unholy influence they seem to have. As noted before, I have right wing friends – trust me they aren’t all trying to help us find Jesus and wrest control of your womb from you – and my friends are horrified by what the Tea Party has done. Though I do have friends that agree with it (I need new friends). It is apparently now OK to be a right wing nut job and to actually hold a position of power more significant than band leader at your local church.

This Tea Party makes infinitely more sense.

So the lunatics have taken over the asylum. American politics has become awash with such uneducated and downright terrifying people and ideas it makes you sit up at night and actually fear a Republican win. The things Romney has promised so far have been to appease his party. And his party includes some absolute morons. He probably won’t actually do half of them should he win, but the depths to which he sank to secure his nomination are clearly aimed at a fringe that is obviously more powerful than it rationally should be. The fringe is no longer the fringe and is actually the bread and butter of the right wing. While you may think, judging by my earlier comment that democracy is saved by an adventure into the unknown, it is not.

The move to the centre is dialectical: each side is co-opting the other’s to gain more votes. By having a broad base, one gains, in theory, more legitimacy. The decision to turn around and move to the fringe by the Republican party is a rejection of politics by the people. Instead it is politics of a minority. Nay, it is a tyranny of the minority.

Apparently, when you ask what you can achieve by being a mainstream extremist, a lot of fucking power is the answer. The fact that the Tea Party has gone as far as it has is not because they have a lot of supporters. I would contend that they are supported by people that have a vested interest in manipulating a vast majority of people with short attention spans and a fascination for sound bites. Because they are devoid of intellectual arguments. It’s all smiles and repition. Repeat something enough, and people will start to believe it. That doesn’t make it truth. And American news organisations like to repeat stuff. Incredibly pointless and inane stuff. It’s rarely ever actually news. The reason I level these charges at the right, is because the left in America is doing very little to help itself. It’s seemingly become afraid of its own shadow. Thankfully it doesn’t give a voice to the American version of the Socialist Workers Party, who are, you know, actual socialists. Though it’d be hilarious if they did. The fringe left is a joke. And is treated as such. The fringe right is a joke, and it is given a seat at the adults table. What gives?

The right’s view of rationalism.

So there’s an election happening today. It’s close. It’s the most important election ever. It’s between the left, who are not really very left, who haven’t seemingly got the will or gumption or the know how to make simple and obvious arguments simple and obvious; and the right, who are determined to terrify the last remaining rationalists into an early grave.

It’s drawing lines in the sand. It’s starting a fight. It’s supporting teams. It’s picking sides. When we pick teams there is a reason the most able are the captains, and they pick a strong team in the playground. We don’t make the kid eating mud the captain, so he can pick a team full of mud eaters and mouth breathers, because who wants to root for that team, let alone play for it? There is a tide of anti-intellectualism and anti-rationalism and the right is to blame. Think about that next time you’re picking. Unless you want it to be safe and boring. Because who wants that.

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  1. […] second article, Picking Sides (Redux), is on the very nature of democracy, multi-party systems, and what you can achieve by being a […]

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