Sunday, November 2, 2008

Grumpy contrarian political takes

By Rick Morris

There's nothing like a political climate highly unfavorable to your point of view to bring grumpiness to the surface. As somebody who came of age during Ronald Reagan's excellent presidency of the 1980s, it has been painful to see an administration over the past eight years led by a man who claimed to run as his heir, but has:

^ run away from several key policies, government spending coming immediately to mind
^ been incompetent at administering some of the key functions of government, with the war in Iraq from mid-'03 to mid-'07 coming immediately to mind
^ been incompetent in communicating the successes his administration did have, with the concrete moves made to keep the homeland safe over the last eight years coming immediately to mind

I don't really identify myself as a Republican, inasmuch as ideology comes first to me, but that's the brand I almost always vote at the presidential level ("Go, Pat, Go" in '00 being my exception!) and will again this year -- and that's why the Republican low tide depresses me so much. When push comes to shove, I do invariably root for what I know to be the lesser of two evils, so this political climate puts me in a bad mood. As a columnist, though, it does give me a chance to vent a little bit, so here are the points that are riling me up the most these days.

RECORD TURNOUT IS BAD, NOT GOOD: You say record numbers of voters, I say record numbers of dumb voters. I understand that this country got away from the poll tax for a good reason and that we can't screen out voters because they are the wrong race, creed or religion. That would be un-American. But stupidity and ignorance are chosen traits. Isn't there some kind of basic citizenship test we can administer to people? I'll never forget the first presidential campaign I worked on as a young'un, Bush Senior 20 years ago (may God forgive me for that) and encountering a potential voter who had NEVER HEARD OF HIM after eight years in national office (to say nothing of his previous record). This woman's vote, I thought to myself, counts exactly the same as mine. What a country. I'm thinking the same thing these days as I see the parade of ignoramuses on my television daily proclaiming how the Obamessiah will save us all. Note also that my argument focuses entirely on the destructiveness to our system that results when uninformed people sully it with misinformed ideas and does not even touch upon the fraud that ACORN and their allies on that side of the political spectrum have perpetrated in terms of illegally pumping up the voter rolls.

THIS IS A CONSTITUTIONAL REPUBLIC, NOT A DEMOCRACY: Shallow morons have been conflating the two concepts since the beginning of time, but it seems to get worse every year. In a democracy, we the people would vote directly on issues such as war in Iraq; instead, we vote for representatives to judge these issues and then we hold them accountable. The decline of our country's level of education is well-marked by the inability of people to understand this basic concept.

THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A POLITICAL FACT-CHECKER: With all due respect to the folks at and many of their doppelgangers, who I do not believe perpetrate a conscious political agenda based on what I have seen, they promise something that quite simply cannot be delivered: universal truth in terms of sorting out promises and accusations in political commercials. This is not to say that they don't work hard (they do) or never make any good points (they often do). But their role of "watchdogs" is completely overblown. They cannot with any certainty assess the outcomes of proposed policies on both sides; many claims made by opposing sides in terms of the effects of certain policies have to fall under the nebulous "agree to disagree" banner. In the aftermath of Willie Horton and other aspects of the GOP campaign in 1988 that the delicate media proclaimed to be among the most shameful in American political history, the whole "fact check" industry emerged and has been making irresponsible claims about the ability to deliver universal truth ever since. Universal truth comes from only one place and He hasn't decided to state a direct opinion in our political races yet.

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