The Dog Doesn’t Die

Book reviews & random thoughts

November 5, 2008

I live in suburban Washington DC. So I tread carefully when it comes to politics, because I have to live surrounded by people who not only encompass the entire spectrum of beliefs, but who also actually have jobs and support families based on those beliefs. In fact, my favorite neighbor is close to opposite me on just about everything political. However, I haven’t given up my right to speak out or speak up, and I have done plenty of both, just not on this blog – until today.

Yes, this is the political post. It may be my only political post for another 2 or 4 or 8 years. But here it is.

I’m a proud, angry liberal. The last 8 years of deliberate, seemingly malicious, government mismanagement have made me angrier than I ever thought possible. I’m trying to think of some aspect of life in America that has improved since 2000, and I can’t. Bush screwed it up in every possible way, and he’s going to keep screwing it up on his way out the door, destroying environmental and consumer protections that were put in place by not just by Democratic presidents but by his father, by Ronald Reagan, and even by Richard Nixon. Oh, and let’s not talk about the economy, it’s just too depressing. Who was it – Reagan in 84? – who asked if people were better off now than they were 4 years before? That’s a no-brainer now. And let’s not kid ourselves, a McCain/Right-Wing Barbie administration would have been more of the same. They can call themselves “mavericks” all they want, they brought no evidence to the campaign that there would be any improvements.

What’s sad is that they, as the current crew before them, abdicated the cause of conservatism. That’s right, they didn’t even stick with their own alleged beliefs. Let’s see what Tony Fabrizio and Craig Shirley, two conservative pollsters, said on Politico.com : [T]he brilliant conservative theoretician Frank Meyer devised “fusionism” in the 1950s — which brought together the social right, the foreign policy right and the economic right under a philosophy opposed to oppressive government that later evolved into a political movement — a conservative one based on “Freedom.” This culminated in the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980, and all sides understood their end of the bargain. … The Republicans of late, however, decided to trade in the “less government, more freedom” model that had worked so well for Reagan and conservatives. … Rove, Bush and the modern Republicans have treated Americans like crack addicts, giving them tax cuts but also federal boodle, so tax cuts look more like an appeal to downright greed.

Okay, I was never a fan of Reagan, but Fabrizio and Shirley accurately make the point that there once was a strong philosophical foundation to conservatism and the Republican party. This foundation was built up painstakingly by people like Meyer, William F. Buckley, George Will, and others, then carried forward for quite a few years. Remember the Contract with America of the mid-1990s? I didn’t agree with it, but it was a campaign of ideas, and I had to respect that effort. But did we hear any discussion of conservative philosophy from McCain or Right-Wing Barbie? No. Their entire focus was on winning. Sorry, folks, but if you want to win my vote, you have to give me a reason. And fear of the unknown is not a reason, especially when I fear continuation of the disastrous known more than anything. McCain gave a gracious concession speech last night. Had he campaigned in the same voice, this might have been a much closer race.

On the flip side, I was thrilled with Barack Obama almost from the beginning. I say “almost” simply because I decided to ignore all presidential campaigning until January of 2008. That’s the earliest I think it should start, and that’s the day I began looking at websites for Democratic candidates. Before I ever watched him on TV or otherwise heard him speak, Obama impressed me with his reasoned positions. And, for the most part, he avoided my pet peeve about Democratic politicians: instead of being prescriptive, he was often (not always) descriptive. Let me explain that. When confronted with a problem, an unfortunate tendency of some Democratic politicians is to prescribe a solution. In other words, instead of saying “lower the level of this type of pollution to 90% by 2012,” they’ll say something like “lower the level of this type of pollution to 90% by 2012, using this technology.” So they prescribe a solution, preventing the marketplace or emerging technologies from offering the possibility of a more efficient, less costly solution. Obama does this sometimes (see biofuels, for example), but Hillary Clinton and some of the other candidates did this with much greater frequency.

Obama has been called slick. I prefer to think of him as calm and even-tempered, which are admirable qualities in a leader. I think that’s a big part of what he’s got going for him. Because my family is from Illinois, I know some of his background in the Illinois state legislature, where he went from being an outsider to being a leader who brokered deals on a regular basis. Some people just know what they’re doing. Between his general demeanor and his positions on the topics that matter most to me, Obama has impressed me pretty consistently.

I’m looking forward to his administration, just as I’m eager to get the horrors of the W administration behind us. I think we chose the right man for the job this time. I think America finally got it right.

As an aside, I just returned from a 2-week vacation. I’ll be blogging about that, and I also have a stockpile of about 8 book reviews that I’ll be posting over the next few weeks. But as anyone familiar with this country might guess, a pre-election vacation in no way insulates a person from the campaigning. Here’s a vignette from that aspect of our trip:

I seldom buy political gear. However, one afternoon in Santa Fe I saw a bumper sticker and my mind snapped. “I have to have a t-shirt with that logo!” And so Dave and I went on a search-and-destroy mission that sent us online, on the phone, to one of the two Santa Fe Obama field offices, and to one of the six (six!) Albuquerque Obama field offices. And I finally found the t-shirt with Obama’s circle logo blended with the New Mexico state flag, as you can see in the photos. I bought two, one for me and one for Dave.

Obama New Mexico t-shirt

Northern New Mexico was like Obama-land, by the way. It was saturated with yard signs, and even the merchants and restaurants all had them in the windows. In Arizona, McCain’s home state, there was little indication that a presidential race was even happening. Every sign was for the Congressional races. I know enthusiasm doesn’t add anything to the vote count, but I thought this was interesting nonetheless. When we spoke with people, they just assumed we were for Obama. Anyway, Dave and I wore our t-shirts to a party on election night, and they were a big hit.

Next up: vacation stories!

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November 5, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , ,

4 Comments »

  1. […] November 5, 2008 Obama does this sometimes (see biofuels, for example), but Hillary Clinton and some of the other candidates did this with much greater frequency. Obama has been called slick. I prefer to think of him as calm and even-tempered, … […]

    Pingback by November 5, 2008 at Hillary Clinton On Best Political Blogs | November 5, 2008 | Reply

  2. […] November 5, 2008 Obama does this sometimes (see biofuels, for example), but Hillary Clinton and some of the other candidates did this with much greater frequency. Obama has been called slick. I prefer to think of him as calm and even-tempered, … […]

    Pingback by Hilary Clinton On Best Political Blogs » November 5, 2008 | November 5, 2008 | Reply

  3. […] November 5, 2008 So I tread carefully when it comes to politics, because I have to live surrounded by people who not only encompass the entire spectrum of beliefs, but who also actually have jobs and support families based on those beliefs. … […]

    Pingback by November 5, 2008 | November 5, 2008 | Reply

  4. You touch upon one major reason why I abandoned the GOP. I was a Reagan Republican, I voted for Bush Sr. both times, and I voted for Bob Dole. Far as I’m concerned, Bob Dole was the last of the bunch who really stood for anything classically conservative. Of course, by the middle of the second Clinton term, I’d swung pretty far left socially, but that was just the final nail, as it were. When the GOP let the religious zealots and those who were anything but fiscally conservative take over, that was it for me.

    Comment by Terri | November 7, 2008 | Reply


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