Friday, October 20, 2006
My Pieces Of Yuck
Betsy Newmark has a post up about various liberal bills introduced in Congress, and while it might remind many of us that there are pieces of political yuck even more distasteful that our pieces of yuck, this year I doubt it's going to make most of us feel good about voting for our pieces of yuck.
All I can do is resolve to vote for the best piece of yuck within my reach - but I'm not going to fool myself. Not this year. Even a good legislator is apt to be ineffective when enmeshed in a yuck-filled party, and we've got a lot of yuck to go around. So I will attempt to vote for the least delusional, least out-of-touch, least irresponsible and least elitist pieces of Washingtonian yuck I can, but that's not saying much.
Of late, the American political cycle goes like this:
Primary - the politically active find a decent candidate, and contribute dollars or other kinds of support. Usually, the decent candidate loses out to the entrenched candidate, who has a great deal of money in the bag from various back-scratching exercises at the legislative level conducted on the part of special interests (Dem and Rep, not really much difference. What matters is how long they've been in office, because it takes time to establish a really strong network of profitable corruption), and also from party soft money if the entrenched candidate has put out for his or her party leaders. In other words, the experienced piece of prostitute yuck wins.
Post-Primary: Both leftish and conservatives experience a similar sense of skeptical, cynical disgust when the news hits about their choice in their preferred party. At this point, a sudden sense of solidarity emerges, as individuals note that although their political opinions may differ from those of their coworkers, they know for a fact that their coworkers are not corrupt thieves, don't beat their children, and have never yet been observed stealing from coworkers, which is a great deal more than can be said for at least one of their electoral choices. This recognition induces a flash of hope. Since you know relatively little about the other party's candidates, but you know for a fact that their supporters are relatively decent people, the thought occurs that they might actually be planning to vote for a candidate whose strongest qualification for office is that he or she has not yet been indicted. Political opponents go to lunch together, and over the buffet swap stories of political knavery. Hope fades quickly, as you realize that your coworkers and political opposites are blearily and wearily entertaining the same fractional hope as you - that the other party's piece of yuck might have some redeeming characteristics.
The Ugly Stretch: The media swings into action with a fusillade of irrelevancies and (almost entirely) liberal propaganda. This irritates you, but there is a fractional piece of consolation as the worst case histories of re-nominated brigands are publicized. Subliminally, you realize that although everyone realizes that your local piece of yuck is much, much more preoccupied with his or her own welfare than the people's welfare, at least your piece of yuck is believed not to be stealing money from various exceptionally vulnerable groups and molesting kindergarteners while doing so. This is the parties' way of softening you up and reconciling you to reality.
The Dawning Reality: You cling to some hope that something will somehow change (indictment? a plane crash?), but you realize that you are going to have to vote for someone. You watch news shows and read political articles, subconsciously trying to assess the effect of a write-in vote or a crossover vote. The bile rises into your throat as you note the media loving up the worst characters in both your preferred party and the other, all of whom seem bent on getting rid of that irritating scrap of paper known as the American Constitution which allows judges to order search subpoenas of their sacrosanct offices, and requires them to go out and get votes to be restored to their rightful places of kings and queens of the universe. Why, you wonder, do the biggest, schmuckiest pieces of yuck seem to rise to the top in Washington? You stare at your party's pieces of leadership yuck, and compare them to the other party's pieces of leadership yuck, and reluctantly you have to concede that your party's pieces of yuck do feel prepared to throw you a bone or two on issues that you feel are important, whereas the other party's pieces of yuck seem delusional as all get-out. Only a horrified contemplation of the extreme yuckiness of the other party's platform could possibly convince you that there is any purpose in voting for your candidate. Yet this belief gradually is reinforced as you watch a band of talking heads maul each other on television by fiercely indicting their opponents' delusional versions of reality while fiercely defending their own delusional versions of reality. One thing is clear - no problem that truly affects large groups of Americans is going to be addressed in this circuit of the American political merry-go-round. In dazed disgust, you contemplate damage control.
Pre-Election: Unfortunately, the realization dawns that with two or three weeks to go, your local preferred-party piece of yuck has not managed to get him- or herself beaten to death by a mob of enraged voters whose land has been confiscated for development by a developer who has paid off every member of your local city council. This is because experienced pieces of yuck know that such profitable episodes have to be carefully scheduled away from election time so that the victims can be moved off the political stage before they have to go out there stumping. You are so sunk in misery that you stop watching television and hang up on political pollsters.
The Election: You end up voting purely as damage control, and with the fixed knowledge that you aren't going to get any response after the election from the pieces of yuck for which you cast your vote. Nonetheless, because you do believe that the damage control is important, you watch the election night news or follow the election returns on the internet, hoping against hope that your piece of yuck wins and that other voters made the same choices regarding damage control that you did.
Because I am worried about damage control, I will be voting basically Republican for national offices. I think the cultural elite behind today's Democratic party is slightly more inclined than the base of the Republican party to junk the Constitution, for one thing. But this time I truly don't believe it matters, because economics are going to trump whatever delusions on which the parties are now campaigning, and the slow realization that the leaders and nations now controlling the international stage are infinitely greater pieces of yuck than even our yuckiest pieces of yuck is creeping through the population.
In 2008, the political bill is going to come due for both parties, and it is staggering.
This has been one of the worst, most ineffective Congresses in our history, and throwing me a bone or two isn't going to convince me otherwise. I am voting for yuck, and I know it.
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