Sunday, February 17, 2008

Primary Exhaustion.

Every time I've been asked who I will vote for in the 2008 elections, I have to explain that I am not registered with any political party, and so therefore I can't vote in the primaries. I actually encounter a lot of resistance when I mention my lack of affiliation. For some reason this really bothers people. They want to know why I just don't pick a side so that I can fully participate in our electoral "democracy". Doesn't it bother me that I am shut out of the nomination process? No. It doesn't. Not at all. Because it's all a dog-and-pony-show anyway. Nothing has reinforced that belief more than the research I've been doing during this campaign cycle. Every state seems to have some archaic set of rules for choosing convention delegates. To keep track of all these variations would take days of intense study. Until this year I had never heard of "super-delegates", and I think in retrospect that I was happier in my ignorance.

All this preliminary drama seems rigged to me. I have a gnawing suspicion that the result is a foregone conclusion. Each party apparatus decided to back one (or maybe two) candidates, and everyone else gets shafted. The media picks up on the momentum of a few figures and ignores everything else. It certainly doesn't feel like an opportunity to get to know the political beliefs and agendas of those who have stepped forward to strive for the nation's highest office. More than anything else, it's reminiscent of a high school popularity contest. Perhaps that's the limit to the depth that can be presented to the American public. I wouldn't say that the populace is particularly sophisticated when it comes to choosing leaders. Maybe I'm just a cynic.

Frankly, if I were going to align myself with one of the two viable parties, it would probably be the Democrats. I can't seem to identify with many of the characteristics of those that call themselves modern Republicans. They mostly seem like warmongering, narrow-minded, corporate-owned tools that would like to impose their own morality on the rest of the nation. It's a shame because I think that I might identify with some of the old fashioned values represented by the GOP of 30 years ago. I am fairly isolationist when it comes to foreign policy. I am personally fiscally conservative, and would like to see the federal government reign in its spending (mostly in the military sphere). I do feel that citizens should strive to be personally responsible for their own well-being. I like the idea of accountable politicians whose integrity can be trusted. But that type of Republican has been extinct for decades.

Meanwhile the Democrats aren't much better. I can't see that they present much of an alternative. They are also beholden to corporate interests. They give lip service to certain progressive ideals, but I've never seen them put much effort into attaining such goals. For some reason, they don't even seem capable of articulating any achievable programs that would move the country in a positive direction. It's mostly bunker mentality among those on the "left". The whole spectrum has moved so far toward "conservative interests" (basically nothing more than an unquestioning fealty to global corporate free market politics), that there's really not much of a choice anymore. No one is willing to make the difficult proposals that would be necessary to stave off the ruins that we are heading toward. All the Dems seem willing to do is to try and hold the line on personal "freedoms" like gay marriage and abortion. But these issues are generally peripheral to my life.

Where are the challenging ideas that could lead us toward a brighter future. Barack Obama is promising "change", but what does that actually entail? How is he going to confront the business-as-usual approach that is plaguing the country? What is he going to do about the national debt? What specific measures will he take to address ecological issues, or oil dependence? What is anyone really going to do to ensure that all Americans have health care? How will the next president make sure that people who want to work have access to decent jobs, and that when they get older there will still be social security benefits? Aren't these the kinds of concerns that are at the forefront of most people's minds? I just want someone to step through the rhetoric and let me know what he/she intends to do to address the real problems. That's obviously not going to happen within the two-party system that we currently have. I'm going to vote in the general election, but I know that I'll be making a guess about who would be likely to do the least damage. I'm not sure that there's anyone in the field that can clean up the mess.

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Blogger jefg99 said...

Well said, cogent questions. I agree with nearly all of your thoughts on this, especially as it relates to the process, and the loss of party values over time. However, if I were you, I'd probably register to vote in the primaries as well, despite the process. I'll probably wait for awhile until I choose my candidate. Depending on the final two, you might be surprised by my final choice. I'm, leaning towards what's best for my descendents in the future, not what's best for me right now, though those aren't neccessarily mutually exclusive.

My recurring thought: 303,000,000 people (though not all eligible to be President), and this is the best we could come up with. Wait...WE don't come up with the candidates. I believe that's your point as well.

7:54 AM  
Blogger Merge Divide said...

There's no way I will ever register with a political party until the duopoly is forever broken.

5:39 PM  

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