Politics and polis–the Democrats’ dilemma

You can’t be following the news on the political front this week and not hark back to Will Rogers’s gibe: “I don’t belong to any organized political party. I’m a Democrat.”

What really set off this tirade is listening to Hilary Clinton maintain over and over that she can “win in the big states, the ones that matter.”

What the Democrats don’t seem to get is that the “big” states are going to vote “blue” regardless, unless of course they run a blithering idiot for President. Even then, perhaps, they can win in those states. It’s happened before.

What the Dems need to win is a candidate who can appeal to a broad cross-section of voters, urban and rural, white and blue collar, rich and poor, anyone from any walk of life who has a reasonably open mind and likes to think about things.

That candidate is NOT Hilary Clinton, and all of this dithering is simply doing the entire liberal movement a huge disservice.

Clinton represents just more BAU (business as usual). I can’t imagine any circumstance under which I could vote for her, much as I think it would be terrific to see a woman in the Presidency. (I really thought that Laura Bush and Theresa Kerry would have made a much more interesting pairing than their husbands did. . .)

I’m sure my viewpoint is colored by living in Oregon. Although my state has been much in the news lately for its facility with “vote by mail” (of which I heartily approve), it’s really worth looking at for another reason.

More than half of Oregon’s population lives in one major metropolitan area. If you add in the residents of the other “cities” in the Willamette Valley, the percentage is probably closer to 70% of the state’s population being urban in nature. Portland becomes, in effect, the “polis” for the state, and the interests of the rest of the residents be damned.

The “big look” committee charged with looking at land use laws is back in action again. The committee was abruptly defunded at the middle of the year last year when it became apparent they were trying to balance urban and rural concerns, which was not what the governor or the legislature had in mind when they set the thing up. The public uproar over the defunding has reversed it.

I have high hopes for this group. One of the members was quoted as saying something like, “It’s clear that what works in Portland and Washington County does not necessarily work well in other parts of the state.” Well, doh. . .

But that needed to be said. Out loud. Urban Oregonians have ridden roughshod over the rest of the state’s residents for decades now. The result is absolute polarization and a complete inability to get anything of meaning done. Sound familiar?

I’d like to see an environment where our elected official returned to doing the business of the electorate as it relates to the economy, social needs, and foreign policy. I’d like to see them stop using sexual escapade investigations and forays into athletes’ use of performance-enhancing drugs as an excuse to avoid facing the really tough challenges that deserve serious attention.

I don’t think being titillated should be the direct aim of any elected official.

I’d like to see a strong U.S. and a strong dollar again.

I’d like to vote “for” someone for the first time in a long time (as opposed to voting “agin”).

I’ve long been an admirer of Senator McCain, but frankly, I’m a little disappointed at the waffling and snake-oil sales pitch he’s pulling out to not alienate anyone. I expect him to be confrontational, and if he wants to get elected, I think his strengths lie in that direction.

I’m one of those independents they keep talking about. I consider myself  fiscally pretty conservative but socially very liberal. I have no objection to funding social programs, even those I may not benefit from directly. (I’m pretty sure I would benefit indirectly from some of them.) But I do think we need to be operating on a “pay-as-you-go” basis, not accumulating debt for our children and grandchildren to pay off.

That’s the way I run my personal finances, and I don’t think it’s too much to ask our elected officials to take the same approach. I think we might find some smarter decisions made if we took very seriously the concept of operating on a cash basis and paying the bills as they come due.

Whew! This has gone very far afield from where I started, so let me make another abrupt jag.

Dear Democratic Party: Please give me a choice in November. I can’t commit to Obama right now, but I’m interested enough to want to hear a lot more. I’d like to have the dilemma of two good candidates that I have to choose between.

This election is the Democrats’ election to lose. I just hope they don’t screw it up with back-room politics. If they do, they should probably consider disbanding and leaving the task of representing liberal social policy to some group more qualified.

9 Responses to “Politics and polis–the Democrats’ dilemma”

  1. Michael Says:

    Consider military spending under McCain, compared to social spending under Obama, and it’s not even a close call. We’re spending over a billion dollars every week in Iraq — and that’s just Iraq, not Iran…

  2. Marianne Says:

    There was an interesting piece in my local “newspaper” (quotation marks earned), a column from “The Bogus Economist,” that pointed out that saving money by not borrowing it is a phantom. It’s like saying that I saved $50,000 today by not going to the bank and getting a loan for that amount.

    Michael, I agree that the monies we are spending on war could best be spent some other way (although some of them might need to still be spent in Iraq, since we took it upon ourselves to invade and make such a hash of things).

  3. Michael Says:

    Keep in mind also social spending is an investment in social development and pays dividends. Military spending at best may help to preserve certain wealth at the expense of destroying more than it preserves. This is not an argument that military spending will or should end, only the consequences to our economy are very significant. A wartime economy will lead to more scarcity and hardship for Americans. Obama wants to end the war, McCain wants to expand it. Easy choice, for me.

  4. Marianne Says:

    Michael, I can’t argue. My question to you is this: How much extra tax are you willing to pay for “social spending”?

    You can’t say “Let’s just quit funding the military.” That’s all (at this point) borrowed money. So here’s what it comes down to: How much is it worth to you to be your brother’s keeper?

  5. Michael Says:

    No, that question doesn’t make sense to me because the method of revenue collection doesn’t enter into the comparison when we’re talking about over a billion dollars a month being burned up in Iraq.

    Who said anything about quitting military funding? I’m saying we shouldn’t be making wars.

  6. Michael Says:

    Excuse me, over a billion dollars a week. How do you plan to find the revenue to pay for that?

  7. Michael Says:

    My opinion of what taxes should be collected is ideally up to but not to exceed the full rental value of economic land, and from this fund there is no limit to what can be done except the limit of what this land can produce. Certainly no national politician is proposing such a thing, however.

  8. Marianne Says:

    Michael, it may be that no national politician is proposing this because the whole idea is extremely naive. We’ve had this argument before, I think, and I’m not up for doing it again at this time.

    What is the value of land? I live on 100 acres. About 90 of it is in timber. If I had to pay the taxes on what the timber is really worth, I’d be logging it. Instead, I love the fact that we are habitat for dozens of species of birds and four-legged creatures, and I get up in the morning to something other than city noise. I’d much rather preserve this.

    I’m not sure what your problem is with the landed gentry, but I think you need to get over it. You also need to recognize that what works in Berkeley may not play as well in other places.

  9. Michael Says:

    Logging your land would diminish its value, no doubt. There would be a proper tax on removing trees or minerals in situ. This is not naive, but your understanding of it may be. You may perceive me to be in opposition to you, but I am not.

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