Distributed Mind

April 07, 2004

Challenging Instead of Pandering

by Earendil
Politics in America is in bad shape. And maybe it's never been in good shape, but we should demand more.

What should we demand and how can politics change?

1) We must demand that politicians see themselves as SERVANTS of the public. When they run for office they should not be running for a promotion and higher pay, but because they have a VISION of how things can be made better. We should EXPECT that all our politicians have this goal.
The problem with politicians is not that they don't want to do good (I believe most do), but that this desire is too often subordinate to ensuring they are elected. Unfortunately, denial and self-justification can help calm the conscience when platforms have to be adjusted for increasing electability.
Ultimately a politician should set a standard for him/herself that they would rather LOSE the election than compromise the vision.

2) This means our MEDIA needs to change. Instead of analyzing the political motives and the image of a politician (which perpetuates and encourages this sad state of politics), we should DEMAND and EXPECT that our media will REPORT and DISCUSS the ISSUES. That is, the discussion should always be about the merits of a politician's particular vision, not how they will be seen by voters and constituents.

3) A politician with a vision will often need to convince the public of that vision. Note, the politician does not design his vision around what will get him into office (as if one could design a vision!), instead he CHALLENGES the citizenry to see the vision. When was the last time you can remember a politician CHALLENGING the public instead of pandering to them? There is the oft quoted line of Kennedy's: "Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country." In more recent times, Dennis Kucinich will now and then present his vision as a challenge instead of as pandering to his liberal following. But this should not be the exception, it should be the rule!
Challenging may include a critique of current values. It may include challenging the public to action. In truth, a politician who is willing to challenge voters instead of just pander to them may actually win points in the election simply because, in our cynical times, it would be such a new and novel approach to politics!

EDIT: 4) We need to get corporations out of politics. Corporations are not citizens! The fact that they have more rights than people is a travesty. More needs to be done to remove ability of corporations and any for-profit organization from contributing to campaigns.
05:05:23 - Politics - Earendil - 6 comments

April 02, 2004

The United States Does Occasionally Do Good Things Too...

by ben

Ack, not only another political entry, but one that actually says something good about the United States... I may end up looking awfully Establishment after this (I assure you, it will never be).

Having heard a fair amount of news recently about the conflict in the Darfur region of Sudan, and having read someone make the suggestion that some of us actually decide to do something about it by writing our elected officials and asking them to apply pressure to Sudan to improve the situation, I decided to do exactly that. So I researched the situation a little, reading both what Amnesty International had to say about it and, more importantly, Human Rights Watch's brand new report about it.

The end result being that I found out that the United States was already doing much of what I could have asked them to do, and evidently more than anyone else in the international community, at least according to the relevant section of HRW's report. Now, this is not a complete shock - the United States is pretty interested in Sudan - but still, I am so used to finding out all the negative things we do it can be jarring to see something good for a change. Too bad the good things don't get reported on sometimes. Well, I guess they just did...

I think I will still write my letter, but it looks like I will have to begin it by thanking the White House for its current efforts. Who would have thought?

22:32:38 - Politics - ben - No comments

April 01, 2004

The Skeptical Radical

by ben

Why is it that even though I am, when left to my own devices, one of the most skeptical, cynical, downright paranoid people I know, but when I hear thinds like Democracy Now! or read things like Alternet.org I want to laugh at their paranoid delusions - for saying the same things I am!? Drives me crazy that I can't listen to other people say the same sort of things that I say.

I think part of the problem is that I get the very distinct feeling listening, for example, to Amy Goodman interviewing guests, that there will be only one answer - that no one will ever say anything that contradicts the fundamental assumption that all war is wrong and that the Bush administration is the most fascist regime since You-Know-Who (pick your favorite you-know-who). Well, yeah, I feel that way too much of the time (well, maybe not all of the fascist part), but I think I just don't feel like the alternative ideas will really get fair air. Alternet is better that way, but still, most of the authors there see life through a fairly significant filter (note that in this case it isn't always just a progressive filter - a lot of the authors there are old-school Democrat supporters - I laugh at them...). And ultimately, no one is going to say anything good about Bush which is just downright ridiculous. Good grief, even I have managed to find something good to say about most Democratic presidents (well, still waiting on Johnson) - surely they can do that much for Bush. I really don't believe that he is such a new radical phenomenon in conservative politics that everything he does is evil or has an ulterior motive which is evil, but these guys sure seem to think so. Ugh - when I think about it it makes me like the New York Times and the Washington Post even more (that will definitely be enough to prevent anyone labeling me radical or progresive...).

Okay, I am rambling now, so to summarize: I think the difference (assuming I am not just being self-righteous here, which I have to admit is possible) is that I know I will occasionally question my assumptions, even if I don't do it out loud, but I have to question whether they are really doing the same thing.

06:19:58 - Politics - ben - 3 comments