Archive for the ‘ Elections ’ Category

Donald Trump, what the fudge?

He ‘screwed‘ Gadhafi? o_O

Is this 4 realz? Is this guy actually going to be a contender for the Republican nomination? FOX News sure is giving him plenty of opportunities to express his “beliefs”:

And by the way, I can tell you something else. I dealt with Gaddafi.

I rented him a piece of land. He paid me more for one night than the land was worth for two years, and then I didn’t let him use the land.

That’s what we should be doing. I don’t want to use the word ‘screwed’, but I screwed him.

That’s what we should be doing.

What an incredible display of foreign policy cred: his dealings with other heads-of-state consist of selling real estate for “tremendous amounts of money” and making ingenuous deals with dictators for funsies. And he thinks that this is how all of American foreign policy ought to be conducted.

Hopefully primary voters will recognize him for the pandering know-nothing that he is.

Politics of PR; PR for Politics?

Since I’m working/looking for a new job/trying to graduate/doing my best to be a decent human being, I don’t often get the opportunity to discuss politics with academics whom I respect, so today’s chat with a former professor was a welcome deviation from the norm. Though much of the conversation revolved around our respective life activities (and thus wouldn’t be interesting to Dear Reader), there was one thing mentioned which I think is a good question for American society at-large.

In recounting the various ways in which the financial meltdown and subsequent government actions were framed in the “relevant” discourses (i.e., the media and the 2008/2010 political campaigns), I opined that those who support(ed) drastic measures to ensure (admittedly relative) stability have utterly lost the public relations battle to the reactionaries who oppose(d) such actions. To this my professor friend agreed and added that, for better or worse, much of our politics and discourse in this country often breaks down to public relations and marketing. It is less about who can best lead us into tomorrow, and rather about who can best appeal to our fleeting consumer sensibilities.

Yes, my friend is an avowed Marxist philosopher in a society that venerates anything “market-based.” But I do not believe that undermines his critique. In fact, I rather think it supports such a conclusion – however broad it may be – because our reverence for the system too often induces us to be uncritical of the system.

But for the time being, the system looks like it’s here to stay. So, the question I now pose is this: how can we use the system to reform or recreate the system? Can the tools of marketing and public relations be appropriated for a higher purpose than merely electing candidates who reflect the “public” opinion or giving power and influence to those who pander to our fears and anxieties?

Glorified civil servants and the need for massive electoral reform.

This Jonathan Chait article really just hammers home how much some serious electoral and legislative reform would be great for America as a nation. Having a halfway functional legislative branch – one that is less massively unrepresentative of the American people, one without crippling choke points, or one which allowed for genuine coalitions of interest, for example – would go a long way to restoring responsiveness to government. A larger, more active legislature would also begin to diminish the cult of the presidency, which can only be a good thing for our culture and our politics.

More Errors and Half-Truths? Probably.

Reading about Dr. Rand Paul’s victory in the Kentucky Republican primary and his description of himself as a “card carrying member” of the Tea Party, I could not help but to think of John Dewey and his would-be outrage at voter support for Dr. Paul …

Habits of opinion are the toughest of all habits; when they have become second nature, and are supposedly thrown out of the door, they creep in again as stealthily and surely as does first nature. And as they are modified, the alteration first shows itself negatively, in the disintegration of old beliefs, to be replaced by floating, volatile and accidently snatched up opinions. Of course there has been an enormous increase in the amount of knowledge possessed by mankind, but it does not equal, probably, the increase in the amount of errors and half-truths which have got into circulation.

I’m not apologizing for the current party system, nor am I outright condemning the Tea Party movement (though I do have my qualms with it – see Matt’s recent posts on Libertarianism). But Americans need to realize that replacing one dogma with another is not the right way to deal with our country’s smorgasbord of problems.

And, at least for the moment, the Tea Party is just that. This is not a movement that seeks to learn. It is a reaction against the political anemia gripping our nation by giving one-size-fits-all answers to very different issues. It replaces unquestioning obedience to the “party” with unquestioning obedience to the “movement.” Reverse the roles, and I doubt very much if we’d see any difference in approaches to governance.

The point is, while it is encouraging that people are getting flustered enough to do something different, the fact still remains that the Tea Party movement is hardly different from either the Democratic or Republican Parties. None of these seek to foster an environment of creative development, and instead only add to the deluge of “errors and half-truths” which threatens to bury us all.