Response to my writing

15 09 2008

A colleague of mine sent me an email with some great critiques of my political viewpoints.  He didn’t want to post them on the site initially because he didn’t want to step on my toes and create a debate.  I actually encourage the debate so I asked if I could post it and respond.  So thanks for the responses Eric!  The original email is in regular text and my responses are in bold below it.  I welcome anyone who’s reading to join in on the debates as well and comment on any of my writing.

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I think it’s dangerous to argue that on the presidential level a choice between this or that (not much of a choice, I’ll admit) will have little impact on the future. I think you gave a kick-ass reminder in another blog of the number one fundamental of politics: Politicians say what they say to get elected, including the one I like and the one you like, and nobody’s got a crystal ball on election day.

Still, every decision alters everything all the time. I don’t know which promises my candidate will keep and which ones he won’t and what will get in the way of his commitment (even if it’s himself). Maybe election is choosing the person you trust and believing in choice. Choice makes a difference.

You’ve argued that our candidates are similar, but similarity is not sameness. Take two compounds with similar formulas–one is explosive while and the other is inert; one is harmless while the other is poisonous. The difference may be one atom to every molecule.

I agree that it’s dangerous to be debating these types of choices but more so in that it distracts from the debate we should be having. We’re focusing on these sometimes trivial issues and talking about a set of choices that offer only a microscopic change and expecting a great deal to change as a result. I think that everyone genuinely wants change in the way things are running. That’s obvious because both parties are running on a platform of change but how can we wait 8 years and be satisfied with only a molecule of progress? If we’re going to see the real change that people want, we need a drastic change in policy.

What we’re really offered is “the lesser of two evils” (which is a phrase used frighteningly often in presidential politics) That’s not a choice that I’m willing to make. It shouldn’t be one that anyone is willing to settle for.

The problem is that people see voting for a third party as “wasting” a vote. I can understand this viewpoint because no one wants to vote for a guaranteed loser. I look at it as “wasting” my vote if I vote for a major party candidate because both of their views are similar enough to the status quo that we’re not really going to see much change. If there’s enough “wasted” votes, we’ll start to see some of that real change and not the fluff that the major parties are going on about.

You’ve argued that going after the corporations will trickle down to the consumer; to an extent, it will. I would also agree that anything that harms the corporations throws off the economy’s balance, which for most of the last century has been extremely dependent on consumerism. However, for whatever proportion of corporations are in sales, the basic laws of economics dictate that any increase in prices for non-essential goods will cut demand. Raising their prices could actually reduce their revenue. To at least some degree, corporations would be forced to reduce their insane profit margins.

Again, the problem here is more fundamental. I’d argue that we shouldn’t be raising taxes on either the corporation or the consumer. In fact, we should be lowering taxes on both and lifting regulation on business. You stated yourself that meddling with the corporations throws off the economy. If we lower taxes and shrink the size of the budget by cutting all of the unnecessary spending, everyone wins. Less of your money is given to the government. Less of the corporations money is given to the government. This means that you have more money to spend on cheaper goods, thus increasing your buying power AND the profits of the corporation (As a side bar, profit margins for corporations are not a bad thing. It’s a horrible trend in a capitalist society to have the image of evil empire.)

To argue that it makes no difference where we are fighting is another thing I’d like to address. I’m glad you mentioned the facts about McCain and Obama’s military policies (I didn’t know those facts); with either candidate, a bully military and the Bush doctrine of preemptive strikes could survive (and although Obama is strongly interested in diplomacy and using the treaty before the gun, the logic we’ve set up is that words only count some).

But something we must “never forget” is that there never was any satisfactory justification for making war with Iraq; in fact, we were misled, misinformed, and deceived. Afghanistan, different cup of beans. While I believe very little of the hype because of how it is used, we seem to have forgotten the very things we said this war was about: making sure 9/11 has no sequel, the Taliban’s role in Al-Qaeda, and capturing Osama bin Laden. Without going way off into that territory, let me simply say that bombing Mr. Johnson’s neighbor Mr. Thompson for something Mr. Johnson did, encouraged or permitted isn’t fair, and there’s an important difference between the two.

For this, it’s important to consider why we got attacked on 9/11 in the first place. Most people buy in to the rah rah patriotic propaganda from the government that we were attacked because they were jealous of our freedom and prosperity. No one stops to think how completely insane that is. They bombed us for the simple fact that we’re over there meddling in their region in the first place. We’ve been doing this for sixty years. We overthrew the Iranian government in 1953 for oil and never left. We’ve established bases, put in missiles, gotten involved in wars, and generally stuck our nose where it doesn’t belong. Of course, I agree that Bin Laden is a criminal and a murderer and should be brought to justice for his crimes. I’m concerned that we’re still in Iraq and Afghanistan and now they’re debating whether it’s OK to cross the border into Pakistan (a nuclear power) without authorization to chase Bin Laden. If the goal is to “make sure 9/11 has no sequel,” I’m just left to wonder if continuing to meddle in the region is going to end up undermining that in the long run.

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