Saturday, November 12

Comparing America's politics to Alice's Wonderland

My friend, Carol, sent me this article, and I thought it was really good, so I'm reposting it, along with my comments to her.
American Wonderland, by Morton Keller
From global warming to the Tea Party, our political landscape is patently absurd.
Although Morton Keller seems to come more from the right, probably a Libertarian standpoint, he has lots of good observations and criticisms. Furthermore, I think the comparisons with Alice in Wonderland are interesting and effective. Here are some of my thoughts:
In sum, we have convinced ourselves that in theory we are engaged citizens, while in fact most of us are the self-family-sports-media-obsessed folk that polling tells us we are. But not all of us, all the time. A substantial number of Americans claim some identity with regard to public life. A fifth of us are ready to say we are liberals; close to twice as many identify themselves as conservatives.
exactly.
There is as well a political class that has career self-interests, or a cultural (or psychological) inclination to be steadily engaged in public affairs. Many are drawn by self-interest and by the sheer excitement of the political game. Others enjoy the ample outlet for commitment to causes that politics, as compared to much of the rest of contemporary society, provides.
while both of these paragraphs are a good start, they (understandably) don't take sin into account. so, in reality, the problems are even stronger than the proclivities that are implied here.

+ Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
+ Power attracts the corruptible (this version from Frank Herbert of Dune fame). I almost always think of this version when I think of our politicians.

i know political demonization is older than the Republic, but i still hate it. the Founding Fathers themselves treated one another unconscionably.

but wasn't there a time, say most of the 20th century, when, even if i didn't vote for him, he was still my president?

again: i think our biggest problem is not political polarization but self-absorption and lack of civic involvement.

further, part of my concern with political polarization and its rhetoric (and this is has probably also always been true) is that too few Americans think about it critically and don't know the difference between 'entertainment' and fact. if Rush or Rachel says it, and it sound ok and fits into their worldview, they accept it uncritically.

and this dynamic, along with the others mentioned here, is probably worse with our 24-hour newscycle, talk radio and tv, and that cesspool of ignorant self-expression, the Internet ;-)
A proper concern for excessive government coexists with excesses such as former Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo’s observation that “People who could not spell the word vote or say it in English put a committed Socialist ideologue in the White House.”
this kind of thing exactly typifies the problem i have with at least some of the Tea Party. and isn't it racist? i repeat my criticism from 3 years ago: if someone can exaggerate and say Obama is a committed socialist, couldn't we also say Bush was a committed fascist? my point: both have about the same grounding in reality.
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