Partisan politics in America has taken on a new and disturbing dimension that should not be ignored or allowed to grow. We are in a new era where the political lie has become the political norm. But its newfound acceptability is the most disturbing facet of this feature of our electoral process.
What is it about politics and religion that drives people to such craziness?
We should probably leave religion for another discussion, but in the world of politics, religion has unfortunately taken on considerable importance. Not that it is an overarching importance anymore. Especially since the eccentric differences in Mitt Romney's Mormonism could so easily be overlooked in the name of Party Politics. In today's political world, all you require is an 'R' after your name. If you've got that, you can even subscribe to a faith that flaunts pagan symbolism and requires magic underwear.
Party politics: What a concept. When the idea was first brought forth, party politics was simply an organized voter base of like-minded individuals, who agreed on a sufficient number of key ideas to form a voting bloc. It was not a popular idea with many leaders. Our first President never had a party affiliation, and argued against the formation of parties. In retrospect, George Washington appears to have been right about that.
Partisan politics was born of the realization that the new republic would require the winning of popular support for ideas. From such simple beginnings the concept has seen numerous transitions as the importance of specific issues has waxed or waned, and the utility of certain coalitions has developed or diminished. Parties have come and gone as a result of the changes society has experienced.
Today's two major parties have had their day, with periods of genuine cooperation and productivity. But this most recent Congress has been so hopelessly deadlocked along party lines that it has the dubious distinction of being the least productive Congress in the history of our nation. And this occurred at a time when the nation needed action by Congress to speed an economic recovery from the worst financial conditions since the Great Depression. In light of this, it must be observed that the Party System has definitely not 'done us proud.'
Against this depressing obstructionist backdrop we are now faced with a Presidential and Congressional election that may be the most significant in several generations, perhaps even the most significant in the nation's history. In a few days the nation will decide if we need to change Presidents, and if we can continue to function with the gridlock of a partisan Congress. But what is really at stake in this election goes well beyond the normal bounds of picking one party over another. What is at stake in this election is a choice, make no mistake about it. But that choice no longer reflects the simple distinction of party preference. It now takes on the pallor of some sort of game of Truth or Consequences.
What we have seen in this election cycle represents the worst of Presidential campaigns in modern history. While an argument might be made for the Dukakis campaign, to my mind there is no campaign in recent history that comes close to the incompetence, and in this case also the outright fraud, perpetrated by the Willard Mitt Romney Republican campaign of 2012.
An increasingly popular trend in recent years has been the rise of the independent voter, and the resulting choice made by that voter between the candidates of the two major parties. The frequently heard refrain is that a choice must be made between two almost equally unattractive alternatives, and the selection decided upon will be "the lesser of two evils." But this year it is a bit different. This year, the distinction between the two major party candidates is really quite clear. While the "lesser of two evils" refrain is still heard, the party faithful on both sides, as well as most independents, are clearly drawn to one candidate or the other without having to resort to the trauma of selecting a least-objectionable "evil" from the two.
Through a disgustingly partisan "news" media and the increasingly popular meme-infected social networks, we have been conditioned to approve one candidate over the other. But if we strip away the memes and the "news" we still have the ability to make a clear choice on principles, issues, and track record. If we look beyond the memes we can still make an intelligent selection based on substance. And what we see after stripping away the garbage that today passes for news and information, is a disturbing sight.
The President, as is always the case, can run on his record and his established accomplishments. The challenger must do without that advantage, and draw on his other experience to flesh out his credentials. In this case, however, we have a President who has experienced the most flagrantly obstructive Congress in the nation's history, that Congress led by the opposition party whose stated agenda for the past three and a half years has been solely to oust the President from power. No bones about it. That was their entire agenda. Which, of course, made it far easier to block all that legislation. None of it mattered as much as their stated priority, and any of it that passed might make it appear that this President had actually accomplished something. If it is ALL blocked--even bills written by Republicans if favored by the President--then the President will have NOTHING to claim as an "accomplishment."
That's a pretty neat trick if you can get away with it without looking like a complete ass. You have to have the complete loyalty of your voter base, though. You must have your loyal Republican following well in line or it won't work. There can be no defections, or support given to a Democrat.
And guess what? It almost worked. As foolish as it makes you look to literally BLOCK EVERYTHING, this neat little plan almost worked. Yes, there have been some significant Party defections, but the whole thing really backfired significantly because of just one little flaw. They picked the wrong presidential candidate to run against the incumbent. Apparently, there wasn't quite enough magic in his underwear.
The scary part of all this is that it did almost work. And the most frightening part is that the Republican electorate was on board with this foolishness. They actually appeared to LIKE the idea of a campaign built on flip-flops and lies if it could achieve the stated objective of ousting Obama. Now that's pretty frightening to any who call themselves Americans. What is it, exactly, that prompts otherwise intelligent people to this kind of craziness? Has partisan politics (or the lack of real news) erased that portion of the mind that deals in critical thinking? Has the importance of Party superseded the importance of character? Or truth?
With this election cycle we have left behind--far behind--the notion of a "lesser of two evils" in our voting preference. With this election we have descended to a new low in moral depravity, at which we now select our candidates based on the worst of principles, or perhaps in the absence of principles.
For the Republican Party this election descended to the point where no amount of evil was unacceptable in electing their candidate. Any lie, any exaggeration, and any about-face on any issue whatsoever, was acceptable, so long as the election could be won. The end justifies the means. Get rid of Obama at all costs. Even if those costs include your own honesty and credibility as a thinking human being. And what does Mitt Romney stand for? That is difficult to determine, since his stance on issues is as flexible as a leaf in the breeze, and he will quite literally say anything that his immediate audience is perceived to want to hear. The logical question emerges: Does even Mitt Romney know what he stands for?
This was a face-changing campaign for the Republican Party. It was designed to change the color of the face in the White House. But it also changed the face of Republicanism, perhaps forevermore. This campaign devolved to a selection of the "worst of two evils" in that no descent to any level of evil deception was out of bounds. Even the worst evil is acceptable as a viable choice if it replaces a Democratic evil.
And now, regardless of how this election turns out, as a society we are left with the challenge of facing what it means to descend to a level where the worst of two evils is actually a preferred choice by some, so long as it replaces another depicted evil of which they have grown weary.
Talk about scary.
Cross posted from dannosmana.blogspot.com