Thursday, September 06, 2012

If My Grandma Had Wheels She'd Be A Wagon

Let me just say that I agree, in principle, with the policy positions outlined by Green Party Presidential candidate Dr. Jill Stein.  The problem I have is the remarkably silly ideas in the following snippet:
The emotionally inflammatory issues that divide us are promulgated by the media, politicians, and even some religious leaders.  These red herring issues draw us away from the basic issues that unite us: our economy and a vibrant democracy
If we the 99% were able to stay focused on these issues basic issues and vote for candidates who would address them when they were in office, we would change our nation in one election by electing candidates who represent us and not the corporations, the lobbyists, or the military-industrial establishment. There are moments when our ability as a mega-majority to change our nation to serve our needs seems so obvious that I marvel that we haven’t already done so.
"Red herring issues" include things like abortion rights and women's rights; civil rights and the politics of the culture wars.  Why are these red herrings for Dr. Stein?  For the millions who care about them, who shape their approach to selecting a candidate for whom to vote they are hardly red herrings.  For the millions who work to ensure women's rights to quality health care, or for whom matters of school choice are a deeply personal, family matter, these are not red herrings but matters of utmost importance.

To call the abundance of issues outside socio-economic matters "red herrings" is, in a trite yet ignorant turn of phrase, to dismiss the concerns of one's fellow citizens as irrelevant.  It is to announce to potential voters they are too ignorant, too easily led by "media, politicians, and even some religious leaders," to understand what's really important.

Like the now-infamous book What's The Matter With Kansas?, the assumption here is that the politics of the culture wars are a dodge used by conservatives to play upon the fears of ignorant voters so they will vote against their own economic best interests.  The argument has the single virtue of the economic numbers on its side; what it dismisses is the fact that all those folks voting against what is, objectively, their own economic interests might be voting for other reasons, with matters of economics far down the list.

To say, "Geez, if everyone else understood things the way I understand them, we wouldn't be in this mess," is no less authoritarian than the current Republican push to restrict voting rights for the poor and minorities because they fear those people would vote Democratic.  It is an expression of fear of democracy, fear of the people, and the assumption that those who really know what's important and not a red herring should be given the keys to power.

It would be nice, I suppose, if folks set to one side their preference for particular issues that are less important to others.  It would be nice, for example, if at least some Republicans understood that the elected officials with "R" after their names don't really care about restricting abortion rights (God knows they've had plenty of opportunities to do so and haven't).  They won't though, and that's OK.

I would much rather have an electorate like the one we really have, one that concerns itself with all sorts of issues some believe are red herrings, than have politicians who come to the people and tell them they're too stupid to understand what's really important.  Politics isn't like that.  People aren't like that.

I agree with Jill Stein and the Green's when it comes to some matters of policy.  Their wishes - If people thought like we do, the world would be sunshine and fluffy kittens! - demonstrate an ignorance of the reality of politics and a dismissal of real democratic values.  It's kind of sad, because a Green Party President would at least have the virtue of offering an interesting four years.

Virtual Tin Cup

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