Tuesday, September 18, 2012

My Tribe

I really hate sports. I don't hate athleticism and teamwork, but I really hate the blind and frothy loyalty that arbitrary distinctions generate. One football team is no better or worse than another (speaking in terms of value, not ability) and while many fans understand it as entertainment, you don't have to dig very far to find violent and aggressive hostility.

I've written about my distaste for American politics before; numerous times, in fact. It isn't that I inherently hate politics. I actually love politics. Politics are a fascinating blend of philosophy, economics and ethics. And while I really want to avoid sounding like a hyperventilating conspiracy lunatic, I do think that modern American politics is primarily political theater. It's entertainment and we all just play along. We wear our team colors and boo the other guys.

This isn't about to turn into a false equivalency where I compare Jon Stewart to Rush Limbaugh or Michelle Bachmann to Dennis Kucinich and say "see? Both sides have equally crazy people." Because they don't. This is in large part due to the fact that I am a progressive and I can't see Bachmann and Limbaugh as anything other than liars and idiots. I truly believe that the facts of the world bear me out on that. Likewise, Al Gore, Dennis Kucinich and Barney Frank are right when they talk about their projects and causes. I also think that there are some fundamental differences between the driving philosophies between self-identified Republicans and Democrats, and some of these differences are significant and can lead to real consequential policy shifts.

But I don't want to get distracted by all of that. The simple fact that some politicians are right and some are wrong beyond the realm of personal opinion does not change the fact that American political theater is corrosive and purposely divisive. Again, I don't actually mean to suggest that there is a shadow government or reclusive cabal who distracts us with this simulation of control. When I say that it is purposely divisive, I mean that our political system has evolved in this way. No one is in control, in fact. Some people like to point out that big corporations and extremely wealthy interest groups are influencing our government. Kleptocracy and Oligarchy are terms that I hear used frequently on left-wing media (full disclosure: this is the only news I actually consume) but I don't think that these things are accurate. The Koch brothers, reprehensible as they may be, are not interested in controlling the government any further than the edge of their own interests.

I'll grant that the Obama administration has done some fantastic things in the past three and a half years. They have also done some terrible things. Would a Romney administration really be that much worse than a second term for Obama? From my perspective, based on things that actually matter, it would probably be nearly identical (and neither one would be good). In truth, I don't really care who wins in November.

But the thing is that I am going to vote for Obama. Despite myself, regardless of all of the truths that I am conscious of telling me that the current Democratic party and the current Republican party are nearly identical in their assholery and ineptitude and greed, I will cheer if Obama wins. I will be depressed for days if Romney wins.

I may be an independent, left-of-the-left voter, but I am also a Democrat. These are my colors. This is my tribe. I can't stand it when the other team wins. And I hate that about myself.


Miriam said...

While I too am frustrated with the tone of this election, I disagree strongly that there is no (or even little) difference between the party platforms...especially if you are a woman, or an immigrant, or at the lower income retiree...I am all three. What ever differences I may have with Democrats, their platform would preserve my rights as a woman to decide about my own body, my rights as an immigrant to remain in this country and protect what little safety net I have paid into through Medicare and Social Security... The Democrats are not moving forward as fast as I would like, but they are at least moving in the right direction....to me that matters.

Ed said...

I can't get behind Obama even though, like Miriam, I do think there are differences between him and Romney (as mentioned, women's health, medicaid and ss. Rocky Anderson (Justice Party candidate) lays it out well in the following piece http://www.opednews.com/articles/Rocky-Anderson-Writes-Resp-by-Rocky-Anderson-120919-35.html On nearly every issue I despised Bush for, Obama has done worse. (NADA, Gitmo, immunity for Bush era torturers, whistle blower prosecutions, drones, murdering USA citizens,removal of public option,immigration contrary to Miriam's assertion http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/wp/2012/08/27/obama-is-deporting-more-immigrants-than-bush-republicans-dont-think-thats-enough/ it wasn't till election time that Dems/Obama changed their tune)Like Rocky I wonder "Are no crimes too great, is there no undermining of the rule of law too egregious, for you [Democrats] to refrain from saying "No more"?

At a certain point, win or lose, one must start voting and working for the change they truly believe in. There must be a line somewhere, a crime no one should support, regardless of the other "incentives" dangled in front of them. Voting for the lesser of two evils is still voting for evil.

Finally consider the way Obama has brought all of these civil rights abuses into the mainstream. He truly has been a great reconciler, just not in the way I had hoped. If a Republican had won, they would have been much less successful, murder, warentless surveillance, indefinite detention, wars of aggression, would not be part of both parties platforms.

Ed said...


"Democrats spent several days at their convention two weeks ago wildly cheering and chanting whenever President Obama's use of violence and force was heralded. They're celebrating a leader who is terrorizing several parts of the Muslim world, repeatedly killing children, targeting rescuers and mourners, and entrenching the authority to exert the most extreme powers in full secrecy and without any accountability -- all while he increases, not decreases, the likelihood of future attacks."

Hope and change?