Join 3,363 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Attack of the Gores.
August 8, 2003 2:17 AM   Subscribe

Al Gore calls the Bush administration on their lies, says he won't run but will pick a candidate in the near future. Insightful excerpt: "Robust debate in a democracy will almost always involve occasional rhetorical excesses and leaps of faith, and we're all used to that. I've even been guilty of it myself on occasion. But there is a big difference between that and a systematic effort to manipulate facts in service to a totalistic ideology that is felt to be more important than the mandates of basic honesty."
posted by skallas (69 comments total)

 
As much as i'd love to yell out "amen", I don't quite trust the guy. . it could be easy to get swept up in the idea of a political figure, *GASP* telling the truth.

Though, he did say he wasn't running so he's got my respect for not using this as a chance to sell himself.
posted by Dillonlikescookies at 4:28 AM on August 8, 2003


Great speech. A must read.

Excerpt translated:
Freedom of speech must be protected. Statesmanship must trump partisan politics in a democracy. The ends do not justify the means.
posted by nofundy at 5:04 AM on August 8, 2003


'launched a kind of 'civil cold war'' can we get some traction on that. Great speech.

now where do I join the mugwumps party?
posted by darkpony at 5:18 AM on August 8, 2003


Never been a Gore fan, but this speech is inspired. I wish everyone in America would read it.
posted by rushmc at 5:27 AM on August 8, 2003


Yes, I'll call this a great speech. And it seems as though, since he wasn't speaking to a possible electorate for him, he was much less inclined to dumb down the language the way Presidents and Presidential candidates do. Makes for a much more eloquent, quotable speech, I'd say.
posted by grrarrgh00 at 5:30 AM on August 8, 2003


Whatever. Liberal, conservative ... they're all just a bunch of thieving weasels.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 5:37 AM on August 8, 2003


So is this one of those times when we maintain the polite, infuriating fiction that a politician actually penned his own speech, and baselessly praise or condemn him according to the content therein, or do you reckon in this case he actually wrote it himself and deserves a pat on the back?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:38 AM on August 8, 2003


At the very least, he 1) lent his name to it, 2) said it out loud in public, and 3) (presumably) paid the speechwriter, all of which are necessary for its existence, so we can commend him without having to pretend he, ah, invented it.
posted by Vetinari at 5:46 AM on August 8, 2003


Why couldn't he have written it? He writes books, doesn't he?
posted by rushmc at 5:49 AM on August 8, 2003


Yeah, and he invented that interwebbymail thing, too. Anyone who could do that must be able to string some words together in coherent sentences.
posted by humuhumu at 5:55 AM on August 8, 2003


The politician gets the credit or the blame for the content of the speech, regardless of whether he or some nameless ghost penned the rhetoric of it. The substance of the speech is what's important here, not the expression of that substance, so yes, Gore does get the credit.
posted by Zonker at 5:57 AM on August 8, 2003


First, powerful and wealthy groups and individuals who work their way into the inner circle -- with political support or large campaign contributions -- are able to add their own narrow special interests to the list of favored goals without having them weighed against the public interest or subjected to the rule of reason. And the greater the conflict between what they want and what's good for the rest of us, the greater incentive they have to bypass the normal procedures and keep it secret.

Really, truly great speech. Why, oh why do politicians feel the need to dumb-down their words when they could be producing stuff like this?

Yeah, and he invented that interwebbymail thing, too

Humuhumu - I won't even waste my time finding you a link to such a thoroughly discredited Republican smear.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:00 AM on August 8, 2003


such a thoroughly discredited Republican smear.

Exactly. But we should thank humuhumu for providing such a perfect illustration of the way that so many Republicans prefer to launch irrelevant personal attacks rather than try to defend their own corrupt policies against substantive criticism.
posted by Zonker at 6:05 AM on August 8, 2003


The politician gets the credit or the blame for the content of the speech, regardless of whether he or some nameless ghost penned the rhetoric of it.

Perhaps, but perpetrating myths of competence in the face of evidence to the contrary leads eventually, reductio ad assholum, to halfwit presidents like GWB. It's not healthy or helpful to have such low expectations of elected representatives, I don't think.

That said, I think Gore probably did write or at least substantively contribute to that speech. I was just being a shit-disturber.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:32 AM on August 8, 2003


I feel like an echo, but hell: I was never a fan of Al Gore but this speech is excellent.

Every important failing of the current administration is addressed here and a coherent, if necessarily pessimistic, view of the near future of America is clearly outlined. Now if any of the available opposition candidates are going to be able to fix any of these problems is a whole different issue. One thing is clear, if the electorate allows Bush to continue digging this hole, the Union may never be able to get out of it.
posted by sic at 6:33 AM on August 8, 2003


The Al Gore "invented the Internet" debunking page.
posted by dabitch at 6:40 AM on August 8, 2003


I'm with ZenMasterThis. Just because he's your thieving weasel doesn't make him any less a thieving weasel.

This speech, pretty little cubic zirconia that it is, is really just another turd flung in the opening rounds what will almost certainly be a turd-flinging competition of gargantuan proportions. And all on your dime. And I disagree with sic: the union will certainly survive GWB. It has survived, with impunity, far far worse. We do not live in the most dramatic or interesting of times, much as we would all like to believe that we do. Sorry.

One of the glorious times for America was, back in the Clinton administration, when the infighting got so bad Congress actually failed to appropriate themselves operations funds (sorta like a adolescent failing to pay himself an allowance, that), the government shut down for several days, and the rest of the country barely noticed. I always liked that.
posted by UncleFes at 6:57 AM on August 8, 2003


Excellent speech. The fact that it was delivered to MoveOn members was also interesting to me, since Gore said he would be endorsing a candidate, and one of the pre-war protests I attended involved a march which stopped to recognize Senator Kerry's offices and his vote for the war.
posted by VulcanMike at 7:01 AM on August 8, 2003


the union will certainly survive GWB. It has survived, with impunity, far far worse.

But there's a canyon deep and wide between 'survive' and 'thrive,' Fes. America will survive, sure, and it is important to push back against the chicken-littles, but I think the kind of systemic rot that Gore (weasel that he may or my not be) catalogues in his speech does present as big a challenge to your nation as any yet met.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:06 AM on August 8, 2003


such a perfect illustration of the way that so many Republicans prefer to launch irrelevant personal attacks rather than try to defend their own corrupt policies against substantive criticism

Just so nobody else jumps on it... Nobody's making the statement that Democrats (or others, for that matter) don't do the very same thing. (For the record, and stuff.)
posted by *burp* at 7:14 AM on August 8, 2003


In defense of the opposition, we never really believed that Gore meant that he'd invented the Internet. It was just fun to repeat, like making fun of Bush when he calls for making America a "hopefuller" country.

I think the kind of systemic rot that Gore (weasel that he may or my not be) catalogues in his speech does present as big a challenge to your nation as any yet met.

A good point. But I'd counter that the rot has been there since at LEAST the Johnson administration (if you give creedence to the Johnson-Vietnam-Bell Helicopter relationship, and I do). The American government - indeed, most governments (Sweden seems OK) are rife with this sort of corruption, always have, and most likely will always be. The best way to counter it is not to demand a change (there are no real alternatives!) but to make government as unnecessary and ineffectual as possible.

Certainly, calling one set of brigands on the blatantcy of their brigandry is a good thing, and I applaud Gore for it. But it also smells like the #2 car thief in town working with the cops to bust the #1 car thief, and ultimately? Imagine, for a moment, that Gore had won (he pretty much ought to have, and had he not been of the opinion that it was going to be a walk in the park, he would have) - what, substantively speaking, would be different, really? They would have been less overt about their rapaciousness, perhaps, but still: locusts in the field.

In a year, or five, we will get to see what will be different. My prediction? Not much.
posted by UncleFes at 7:16 AM on August 8, 2003


I feel quite deadened after reading this thread. Al Gore didn't invent the Internet... The Republicans smear their opponents... Democrats do the same, 'and stuff'... Politicians are thieving weasels... GWB is a halfwit...

Stop it, people, please! Is there anything left for a young boy to believe in?
posted by humuhumu at 7:21 AM on August 8, 2003


Imagine, for a moment, that Gore had won

Don't have to imagine it, hd did win.

It was just fun to repeat, like making fun of Bush when he calls for making America a "hopefuller" country

Wrong.
Bush is guilty of slaughtering language, Gore was not guilty, see the difference?
posted by nofundy at 7:26 AM on August 8, 2003


Also: American stength has never been connected to the government, but to the rough integrity and fortitude of the people, the power of diverse thought and deed, the capacity for our culture to integrate new ideas and the best parts of other cultures, and the historical industry and forthrightness with which we assay our aims. We thrive not because of what governmnent does; we thrive despite it.
posted by UncleFes at 7:27 AM on August 8, 2003


It's interesting that Gore, presumably out of his own pocket, can hire better speechwriters than the White House's (the last really good Bush speech dates back to almost a year ago, the UN speech last September).
But reading a speech's text is not enough, I'd like to watch a video of Gore's delivery (even if I've never thought he was as stiff an orator as people used to think)

How do presidents and speechwriters collaborate?
Two noted presidential speechwriters respond to viewer questions on inaugural addresses:


Ray Price
The first president to have an aide who was known as a speechwriter was, of all people, that classically taciturn former Massachusetts governor, Calvin Coolidge. The speechwriter’s name was Judson Welliver. The reason I know this is that my Nixon White House colleague Bill Safire, after we were all safely back in private life, started an organization called the Judson Welliver Society, made up solely of former (not current) presidential speechwriters, with about three or four (if still living; we don’t knowingly admit the formerly living) from each administration. We get together for dinner about once every two years; as it happens, we’re having a dinner this January 18.
Other presidents, of course, beginning with George Washington, have had help with their speeches. Most people who write books, or have their names on books, even if they don’t use ghost writers, also get help, sometimes quite extensive, from their editors.

Ted Sorensen:
George Washington utilized Alexander Hamilton. But Calvin Coolidge's Judson Welliver was apparently the first person employed for that purpose in the White House. For the last several Presidencies, drafts have been prepared by full-time wordsmiths in the official Office of Speechwriting.



also, FDR had a team of speechwriters, among them the great Sam Rosenman and Robert E. Sherwood

In Clark Clifford's words, the oldtimer's modus operandi:
I went to work and wrote early drafts of that speech, and that's really all that you do as a speechwriter. You don't write the President's speeches. You just take his ideas, you try to put them in written form, and then you resubmit them. You and he then work on the speech together. That's the way we did it.


Peggy Noonan (who worked for Reagan and Bush I) is a great example of a more recent style of, let's say, extensive finessing of Presidential speeches in the age of the TelePrompTer

About politicians, speechwriters and being consistent with one's ideas:
There is a wonderful story about a speech FDR gave in Pittsburgh in 1936 that shows the great extent of his adaptability. In preparing for the speech, which was going to mark the debut of his reelection campaign, he called in Sam Rosenman, his lead speechwriter, to find a way around a little problem. Four years earlier in Pittsburgh FDR, then battling Herbert Hoover, had assailed Hoover for dramatically plunging the country into massive debt. FDR promised that he would balance the budget. Of course, Roosevelt actually ran even bigger deficits than Hoover. Find a way, FDR instructed Rosenman, to somehow explain the discrepancy between his words in 1932 and his actual performance subsequently. Rosenman returned to the White House later that evening with the answer. "Fine," said FDR, "what sort of explanation would you make?" "Mr. President," responded Rosenman, "the only thing you can say about that 1932 speech is to deny categorically that you ever made it." At this FDR roared with laughter.
posted by matteo at 7:29 AM on August 8, 2003


Fes : what, substantively speaking, would be different, really?

What I fear, and have watched happen since I was aware that there was such a thing as politics, is a progressive pushing of the envelope of what is acceptable. Secretly funnel ill-gotten funds to contras? Sure, why not? Blow jobs in the White House? Well, at least he didn't lie about the reasons for going into a war! Launch America's first pre-emptive war with shaky justification? Yeah, but we kicked ass, right, and we had good intentions! Drop nukes on Pyongyang? Well....

You see where I'm going. It seems to me at least that with each ever-wider swing of the pendulum, what was once utterly beyond the pale, unthinkable, shocking, and downright undemocratic becomes de rigeur , beneath notice.

I think the answer to your question is probably 'not much,' but I also suspect that the outrages perpetrated by this administration (some of which Gore listed in his speech) have made things that once seemed unthinkable commonplace (not unlike discussions of birthmarks on the president's johnson thanks to the last gang of brigands and looters in power), and that can't be good. It's impossible to say what might have happened if Gore were president, but I think it's fair to guess that the pendulum would not have swung so far, so quickly, in directions so dangerous to the fundamental underpinnings of your democracy.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:36 AM on August 8, 2003


a progressive pushing of the envelope of what is acceptable.

That, my friend, has been going on forever. "Kids these days, they're out of control!" In our culture, that is a great thing - I mean, think just on recent events concerning the new acceptance of homosexuality in our country - pushing the envelope here means freedom and acceptance finally where is has been lacking. In politics, I think that increasing access coupled with a penchant for the "gotcha" effect overstates the amount of pushing going on - this sort of shit has gone on for centuries - it's just nowadays we get to see it more clearly, and we have a president that has a "fuck it!" attitude towards hiding his mildly tyrannical bent. Your slippery slope example has some merit, I'll admit - but we as a country are already paying for Bush's more obvious predations of the truth, and these things have a cyclical aspect - action, reaction, ad infinitum. The amplitude may vary or seem to disappear, but human psychology says the younger will invariably rebel against the older.

I don't think American democracy is in danger. What GWB hath wrought, a combination of the next guy and time may unwrought. There is a lot of resilience built into our processes, and one man is unable to wreak that much havoc, considered long term. And it could easily be that the pendulum arc widening is the sort of nastygram we as citizens need to remind ourselves again that it is We The People who run things, not the self-appointed aristocracy.
posted by UncleFes at 7:51 AM on August 8, 2003


Fes, did you not take your happy pills today? I'm as much a bitter old misanthrope as the next guy, and I believe Al Gore to be just as much a silver-spoon-in-hand/made-to-wear-the-flag doofus as Bush, but that *was* a great speech. He's got a lot of good points.

On the other hand, you make the good point that we'll survive this. However, surviving with dignity is another matter entirely - you seem to advocate hand-sitting here. Bush may or may not be as bad as McKinley and cronies (a propos nothing, I'm reading a bio on T. Roosevelt right now) in terms of cronyism, but to add to what Stav said, the envelope of cronyism is being expanded.

On preview, the "resilience" built into the system is now being eroded - look at Texas legislature; witness the California recall; recall the freedoms trimmed by the Patriot act.
posted by notsnot at 7:57 AM on August 8, 2003


the union will certainly survive GWB. It has survived, with impunity, far far worse.

Not to be a chicken-little, but past performance does not guarantee future success. Especially when that force-multiplier known as technology is thrown into the mix.

This is the tragedy of the whole situation. The continuing advances in technology enable smaller and smaller groups of people to cause larger and larger amounts of physical, financial, and societal damage. Now, more than at any other time in the past, we must pay very close attention, and it seems like no one wants to because those same advances have provided us with a thousand distractions.

We live in interesting times, which is both a blessing and a curse.

Sorry to derail.
posted by moonbiter at 7:58 AM on August 8, 2003


Is there anything left for a young boy to believe in?

allow me to guide you through the muck of despair and lead you to a fuller, deeper understanding of the universe: no.
posted by quonsar at 8:08 AM on August 8, 2003


America's dignity has always been in her strength and equanimity, as opposed to Europe's history and culture or Africa's suffering nobility. I'm not sure that hand-sitting is what I'm advocating - surely, each and every one of you reading this should be as applied to the political process as you can be, especially at the local level, where real difference can be made by a single person. I guess what I am saying though, is that trying to figh the corruption that power invariably brings on a national scale is futile. There is corruption; there has always been corruption; there will always BE corruption. Acknowledge, move on, and fight battles you can win. The Texas and california incidents are anomalies, I think; the Patriot Act, less so, that has some real trouble potential there. But as time progresses, those troubles will be brought to light, and injustices rectified. Americans have ALWAYS traded security for freedom, and I have no doubt that we will do so again.

I concur about the technology aspect; but as well as damage, can not also smaller and smaller groups of people use technology for positive aims? For repair? For construction? Don't discount the yin, though the smoke from the yang's crater obscures it temporarily.

On preview? What quonsar said *takes double dose of happy pills*
posted by UncleFes at 8:11 AM on August 8, 2003


To clarify in re: fighting corruption: "Fighting battles you can win" means "electing the best, most honest people I can, especially to lesser, city and state offices, because it here that the congressman and senators of tomorrow are trained."
posted by UncleFes at 8:13 AM on August 8, 2003


the next guy and time may unwrought
Do you mean unwork?

No. It's just not so. Children who today are being left behind will have no second chance. Innocent Iraqis--yes, there are such--killed by our bombing will not rise from the dead. Etc., etc. Perhaps our democracy will pull through . . . if that's what you mean. But the increase in cynicism in the last 30 years has had, and will have, a lasting effect on the body politic. And, I fear, the children of those we kill today will wreak vengence on our children. I believe the spiral widens, my friend . . . good begets greater good and evil grows with every evil done. The answer is not to grin and bear it but to seize what power we the people still have and reverse it. Gore's speech is a welcome move in that direction.
posted by ahimsakid at 8:19 AM on August 8, 2003


Oh, and yeah, I agree . . . get involved and elect the most honest sumabitch you can find.
posted by ahimsakid at 8:24 AM on August 8, 2003


I respectfully disagree, regarding the widening spiral. Which is to say, yes, it widens perhaps today, but tomorrow it will contract. I don't necessarily advocate grinning and bearing it - I suppose what I am advocating is a certain level of political pragmatism. Change what you can change, rather than scream to the heavens over what you can't.

I don't think that's cynical, I think it's hopeful. I think that's where real change takes place. One man or woman means little in DC, and even less against the grand march of history. But one man or woman can change EVERYTHING in Anytown or Anystate USA.
posted by UncleFes at 8:34 AM on August 8, 2003


At the same time, upon reflection, I suppose that the role of the ideologue, of the idealist, is as important. The power of diverse thought and deed. We need thinkers, as much as we need builders.

(he said sheepishly)
posted by UncleFes at 8:39 AM on August 8, 2003


... lead you to a fuller, deeper understanding of the universe: no.

But... but... I can always believe in you, quonsar, right? You'll always be here to insult, berate, entertain, and lead us through muck, won't you...? *quivering chin, tearful eyes*
posted by humuhumu at 8:43 AM on August 8, 2003


*hugs humuhumu*
until they kill me, man.
posted by quonsar at 8:51 AM on August 8, 2003


*takes careful aim...*
posted by UncleFes at 8:53 AM on August 8, 2003


The ends do not justify the means.

Would someone please explain to me, again, the difference between "situational ethics" and "pragmatism?"

I keep forgetting.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 9:05 AM on August 8, 2003


Situational ethics would suggest a certain malleability of first principles in the event those first principles become inconvenient to adhere to (not to be confused with the evolution of first principles in the face of new affectors), whereas pragmatism is "... a practical, matter-of-fact way of approaching or assessing situations or of solving problems... the doctrine that practical consequences are the criteria of knowledge and meaning and value."

In the end, though, all ethics are situational, in that they are only applied when a situation arises that demands them. Anyone can espouse an ethical system; applying it to the daily ethical rigors of modern life is quite another proposition.
posted by UncleFes at 9:21 AM on August 8, 2003


pragmatism is ... the doctrine that practical consequences are the criteria of knowledge and meaning and value.

In other words, "the ends justify the means?"
posted by ZenMasterThis at 9:25 AM on August 8, 2003


No. I mean, believe what you want, dude, but that ain't what it means.
posted by UncleFes at 9:28 AM on August 8, 2003


Why, oh why do politicians feel the need to dumb-down their words when they could be producing stuff like this?

Because a large segment of the American public is more comfortable with Bush's duh-I'm-dumb persona than with Gore's intellectual focus. And they vote that way.

(he said sheepishly)

Don't you be bringing none of yer damn Tom Swifties in HERE, Mister!
posted by rushmc at 9:29 AM on August 8, 2003


The politician gets the credit or the blame for the content of the speech, regardless of whether he or some nameless ghost penned the rhetoric of it

... give or take 16 words of it, one way or another
posted by ElvisJesus at 9:36 AM on August 8, 2003


Is there anything left for a young boy to believe in?

Masturbation.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 10:19 AM on August 8, 2003


Masturbation, political speeches ... what's the difference?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 11:19 AM on August 8, 2003


Masturbation is a way of feeling good while fucking yourself
. . . politcal speeches are a way of making others feel good while you fuck them
posted by ahimsakid at 11:27 AM on August 8, 2003


It's just amazing the way that the Republican administration has managed to ass-rape the nation and the world without making their competition, the Democrats, look any better by contrast. If anything, as evidenced by many apathetic comments in this thread, people have become convinced that the worse the Republicans get, the worse *all* politicians get.

How do they continue to do it? It's like magic.
posted by scarabic at 11:34 AM on August 8, 2003


For eight years, the Clinton-Gore Administration gave this nation honest budget numbers; an economic plan with integrity that rescued the nation from debt and stagnation; honest advocacy for the environment; real compassion for the poor; a strengthening of our military -- as recently proven -- and a foreign policy whose purposes were elevated, candidly presented and courageously pursued, in the face of scorched-earth tactics by the opposition. That is also a form of honor and integrity, and not every administration in recent memory has displayed it.

Thought he was a little too self righteous at the end. Two situations his administration began: the current rule changes by the FCC & WMD. Nice of him to take credit for anything our military is lacking: strengthening of our military -- as recently proven.
posted by thomcatspike at 11:40 AM on August 8, 2003


Fes -- I agree that community-level changes are effective and a great place to start, but I don't buy into the cynicism that the larger battles cannot be won. It's not hard to disregard the power of a country's citizens when an embarrasing minority of them turn out to vote in elections (not just on a national level, but in my community's last local election, voter turnout was 30%). And I think that this speaks volumes about the attitudes of U.S. citizens. Yes voting is a right, and that implies the option to not exercise the right if one so chooses, but how can anyone who doesn't vote claim to care about the government? There are so many people in this country who just can't be bothered or don't want to be bothered or who just want pablum stuffed down their throats so they can feel safe when they go to sleep at night. Mefi has a pretty diverse contributorship, and some of the stories that members posted in other threads about being out of work and struggling endlessly has kept me up night sometimes. Gore is pointing out some things that everyone should be paying attention to. We can read partisanship into it if we so desire, but the fact is he points out some very cogent points regarding the direction this country is taking. As someone above mentioned, past history is no indication of the future. Yeah we'll survive, but how many enemies will we make along the way? How long will people be disenchanted with govt. before they rise up and demand better?
posted by archimago at 11:43 AM on August 8, 2003


It's just amazing the way that the Republican administration has managed to ass-rape the nation and the world without making their competition, the Democrats, look any better by contrast. If anything, as evidenced by many apathetic comments in this thread, people have become convinced that the worse the Republicans get, the worse *all* politicians get.

It's because in many aspects the Democrats are indistinguishable from the Republicans. A two party system with two corporate-owned parties aint much good to begin with. The fact that a particular component of the Republican party, the Bush Administration, happens to represent the worst that either has to offer doesn't suddenly transform the Democrats into the party of the people.
posted by sic at 11:44 AM on August 8, 2003


Of course, that doesn't mean that this speech wasn't great, minus that self-righteous end that tomcatspike alluded to.
posted by sic at 12:03 PM on August 8, 2003


It's because in many aspects the Democrats are indistinguishable from the Republicans.

If the 11 Sept attacks had occurred on Clinton's watch, do you think the Repubs would have fallen behind him, let go of petty differences in the name of unity and patriotism?

Tschah. Right.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:32 PM on August 8, 2003


Of course, that doesn't mean that this speech wasn't great, agree
posted by thomcatspike at 12:34 PM on August 8, 2003


If the 11 Sept attacks had occurred on Clinton's watch, do you think the Repubs would have fallen behind him, let go of petty differences in the name of unity and patriotism?
The Cole attack did and Dole supported Clinton in Kosovo, which Clinton made clear that he was deeply thankful for, recently.
posted by thomcatspike at 12:42 PM on August 8, 2003


A corporate whore is a corporate whore. That part crosses party lines. I'm sure this speech really pisses off the DLC as much as it does the RNC. The DNC, however, should be delighted.

Just ask Lieberman, or Cheney, or DeLaid, ad infinitum, ad nauseum about whoring.
posted by nofundy at 1:09 PM on August 8, 2003


It's because in many aspects the Democrats are indistinguishable from the Republicans.

Ech. You're pretty much just invoking a cliche here. This is my generation's favorite excuse for political apathy. I'm not saying it's untrue, necessarily, but it has become popular "wisdom" with more perception than research behind it.

To distinguish between them, check their voting records. I think you'll find that Repubs and Democrats vote in contrast to one another more or less constantly.
posted by scarabic at 1:26 PM on August 8, 2003


Well, I can agree that many use this democrats are the same as republicans argument as justification for their own pathetic apathy. But for the non-apathetic and astute, this observation can be backed by exactly the same thing you mentioned, their voting records. And while you are correct that they generally vote against each other, one only needs to look at WHAT they vote on to understand the sameness of both parties. Since they (the two parties) frame the debate you will never see truly Green issues or campaign reform (the only way to wrest political domination away from monied special interests and corporations) on the agenda, just to name two debates off the top of my head. I mean you can count on one hand the democrats who voted against Bush's pet war in Iraq. Instead the debates center around whether the tax cuts for the rich should be 150 billion or whatever instead of 750 billion.

In my case it isn't apathy, I voted for a third party last election cycle. That said, Bush has proven to be so incompetent and dangerous that I am strongly considering voting democrat just to get his ass out of there!
.
posted by sic at 1:39 PM on August 8, 2003


That is if somebody like Howard Dean snags the democratic nomination and not someone like Joe Lieberman.
posted by sic at 1:55 PM on August 8, 2003


Busting down the door, busting down the door
Found the corporate heads dipping Bush like a whore
Say what is it for, what is it for?
The green, the green, please back me some more...

- The Goats, Tricks of the Shade (best hip-hop album ever): recorded 1992, incidentally. Who'd have thunk the lyrics would still be so apt?
posted by humuhumu at 2:12 PM on August 8, 2003


that I am strongly considering voting democrat just to get
Understand, but look at your words; I am: you are going to do; just to get: you are going to do what just so it will go your way. This is similar today's politics, my way, for me, please join and back me and I promise to back you too, but really is a smoke screen.

imho, not voting is also a vote against all candidates but then you are leaving room for representation by nothing. Voting against someone does not tackle the problem just piles on to it like voting all one party during an election, imho. Feel there is no real candidates these days because Lobbying & Money. I have no solution. Will we ever see, a true candidate, one whom really represents their supporters or one whom encompasses the USA's majority thinking? Maybe we need to go back to basics and fix the easy stuff most agree on, then go forward 4 more years and work on the little issues which are the big divisional issues amoung US citizens.
posted by thomcatspike at 2:13 PM on August 8, 2003


regarding 'spike's thought: I have always wondered about the possibility, in light of today's communication technology, of going back toward a non-representative democracy on the greek model. Each day or week or whatever, everyone could vote on every issue, every bill, directly through the net or via phone using a PIN. Even ATM-like voting booths could be invented, that tally electronically. After all, the representative democracy ideal was designed to address the inability of the citizenry to physically vote, right? Now we have breached that. Why keep the appendix?

Doing this would eliminate the need for a House of Representatives - each of us, after all, would represent themself. We would still need the Senate (to propose laws) but 100 people writing laws they can't vote on are a lot harder to bribe than the 535 beggars currently working on capital hill. For a company to get it's way on a piece of legislation, it would have to lobby all of us, rather than a select few easily purchasable congressmen.

I know there are detractions to this method, but I can't think of them off the top of my head.
posted by UncleFes at 2:25 PM on August 8, 2003


That is if somebody like Howard Dean snags the democratic nomination and not someone like Joe Lieberman. did not see

just to get: you are going to do what just so it will go your way
Know you're trying to solve a problem which I'm battling too, hope you didn't think I was analyzing you :)
posted by thomcatspike at 2:42 PM on August 8, 2003


One detraction to direct democracy is that the vast majority of voters are unqualified to vote on most issues. This is the reason why representative democracy was created, to ensure a class of "professionals", elected by the people, best suited to deal with the minutiae of government would develop. This is a superior model, in theory, in practice the "professionals" have become corporate whores who are so beholden to campaign donations as to be totally unrepresentative of their supposed constituents.

Still, I think direct democracy would be a disaster on a macro scale. On a local level it is interesting though. A better plan is campaign reform, free tv and radio air time to all candidates, fixed number of debates etc.

thomcatspike: don't worry, I didn't take it personally. I've gone back and forth on the issue in the past and have found that I simply have to take part in the process on some level, even if it means voting for an unelectable third party candidate whose only goal is to achieve a tiny percentage of the vote... Inaction just feels wrong, even if it comes from righteous indignation. At present, the lunacy of the Bush adminstration has me so alarmed that I would vote for a passable democratic candidate....
posted by sic at 2:55 PM on August 8, 2003


Two problems with direct democracy. One is a practical one of budgeting, planning and continuity -- it would be a frigging nightmare, with programs being created and destroyed by popular whimsy. Forget about planning for the long term, which you must do if the country is to survive and thrive: everyone would want instant gratification. Another is in the area of accountability: a legislator is less likely to put through stupid but crowd-pleasing legislation if he knows it's going to be a disaster that he'll have to pay for with his career later on, whereas with massed voters there's really no accountability, and nothing to prevent faddish asininities from going through. Not that there's all that much to prevent it now.

I have a third objection which I admit is of the elitist pig variety: turn on the television and look at the programming. When professionals create programs they feel passionate about, you get PBS. When programs live and die by majority rule, you get ABC, NBC and CBS. Both have their place, and I'm not suggesting that the commercial networks are inherently wrong or should not exist -- just that I wouldn't want it to be a model for running things that really matter.
posted by George_Spiggott at 3:13 PM on August 8, 2003


George_Spiggott, like your analogy using TV, interesting.
posted by thomcatspike at 5:02 PM on August 8, 2003


Direct Democracy can be a lot of things, its not just about writing legislation. For instance imagine a "people's veto" on the state or federal level that can veto laws or overturn the President's pocket veto.
posted by skallas at 5:38 PM on August 8, 2003


George_Spiggott: If that's elitist swinedom, then oink, oink. Great analogy.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:59 PM on August 8, 2003


« Older DeanSpace...  |  Can monkeys really recreate Sh... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments