Maybe It's Time To Dissolve The People...

Comments

1
add this: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/04/opinio…
to being dumb as a bag of rocks, it's no suprise they expect magic.

2
Is this the critical flaw in democracy?
3
@1 i don't get your point. the link you provide is a religiosity/wealth correlation. what's being dumb have to do with it? you seem to be implying that poverty = stupidity.
4
I downloaded and read the full "plan for California" for both Meg Whitman and Jerry Brown - the candidates running for Govornor. Except for a few minor areas, they are identical. Whitman wants to lower taxes (really fees), and Brown has a different approach to schools, but that's about it. Since the biggest roadblock to progress here is the legislature (we still don't have a 10/11 budget), I can honestly say for the first time in my voting history, that it will not make one bit of difference who wins, and that is truly very sad.
5
Dan,
I don't believe the "masses are asses" as some cynics would say. But, I do think too many adult Americans (those who vote and especially those who don't) expect way too much of their government. By & large, politicians promise too much to get elected and then must "split hairs" and tweak vocabulary to make it appear that they are "keeping" their promises. It's a damned if you & damned if don't situation. I don't envy any pol. They must tread lightly as the "voter" like the customer is always right. I don't exactly agree with that situation but every politician from Obama on down on either side of the coin must contend with that. Its the nature of the beast
6
I find generalizations about the wisdom of the American people tiresome, because it's an inherently biased and simplistic premise with nothing to grab onto in any intellectual sense. And of course, it's always vogue for pundits to proclaim Americans as stupid, or, as Robinson writes "spoiled brats." I don't remember any commentary about how smart Americans were to elect Obama, its only when "they're stupid" does this very overused punditry gimmick get penned.
7
Bullshit. People are pissed off right now, and you know what? They have a right to be pissed off.
8
Elective democracy is inherently oligarchic, not truly democratic. Those elected into positions of power will inevitably be already of the ruling class, or shortly after be inducted into it, and cease sharing any sort of sense of solidarity with the common man.

Rome's history is fraught with situations illustrating clear exploitation of the common man, despite having a government after which ours is modeled. Shakespeare's tragedy of Coriolanus is a great (though clearly heavily biased) illustration of this.

There is no way one can expect effective representation in the halls of power if one does not represent one's self. We encourage political ennui by relying upon oligarchs to make important decisions for us--decisions on issues from which they are utterly divorced in comprehension, or decisions in which they clearly favor the wealthy man. Obama, though perhaps a little less ham-fisted than the last administration, is clearly an aristocrat, whose agenda has reflected more the vested interests of the wealthy than those of the common man. You would think someone people thought to be such a charismatic leader would be able to overcome the criticisms of the oligarchic lobbies with effective use of rhetoric and emotional appeal.

I am ashamed. We truly need a Cicero for our times, and now.
9
The internet, funny enough, is a great medium for the transmission of political thought. It ought to be better used by collaborations of the common man to work outside of the normal systems of power to force the will of the people onto a callous government. But first, people need to either cease watching the major established news media or watch them with a better critical eye, and then give criticism on those grounds. Big media will, inevitably, use short broad-cast times and the alleged short attention span of the proletariat to justify failing to have any meaningful dialogue.
10
@3: I believe his point was that the prominence of religion in this country, as opposed to other wealthy nations, means we have more people who believe in "magical thinking," and thus we have a fundamentally irrational populace.
11
@7 - People have a right to be pissed off but they should start by looking in the mirror. There is no politically tractable solution to the problems that (rightly) piss people off, and no politician can change that (though Obama's doing his still-not-enough damnedest). The people are broken, plain and simple.
12
Here's some more for those too lazy to click through:

And one thing [Obama] really hasn't done is frame the hard work that lies ahead as a national crusade that will require a degree of sacrifice from every one of us. It's obvious, for example, that the solution to our economic woes is not just to reinflate the housing bubble. New foundations have to be laid for a 21st-century economy, starting with weaning the nation off of its dependence on fossil fuels, which means there will have to be an increase in the price of oil. I don't want to pay more to fill my gas tank, but I know that it would be good for the nation if I did.

The richest Americans need to pay higher taxes -- not because they're bad people who deserve to be punished but because they earn a much bigger share of the nation's income and hold a bigger share of its overall wealth. If they don't pay more, there won't be enough revenue to maintain, much less improve, the kind of infrastructure that fosters economic growth. Think of what the interstate highway system has meant to this country. Now imagine trying to build it today.

Fixing Social Security for future generations, working steadily to improve the schools, charting a reasonable path on immigration -- none of this is what the American people want to hear. They're in the market for quick and easy solutions that won't hurt a bit. It's easy to blame politicians for selling a bunch of snake oil. But the truth is that all they're doing is offering what the public wants to buy.
13
@7

The key I think is using that motivation to effect a positive political result. Too easily are those of choleric temper suckered into the political paradigms of people that actually intend to take their livelihoods away. The wealthy class is using our times to make one last major push to utterly wipe out the middle class, which is already dying--to ensure the distance between the haves and the have-nots will ensure no political aspirations from the-rest-of-us every again.

In particular, the crushing weight of the oligarchic class, and that of selfish, miserly old wyrms they have in my parent's generation, guarantees utterly diminished opportunities for people of my generation--and of opportunities readily available to those of my father. The real capital in our nation is held entirely by those two groups, who are less-then ready to loan it out. We are in immediate danger of becoming another Japan, the intensity of its entitlements to the elderly and the wealthy ensuring that the youngest generation will be unable to raise any substantial wealth of their own, buy property of their own, or even have families to continue the idiotic cycle.
14
@8 or at least perhaps an FDR
15
My sentiments exactly. Thanks, Dan.
16
I dunno Dan - with you, it's not okay to expect magic, unless it's gay rights issues.
17
Since the President is unable to do the simplest of things like, say, stop using the useless tactics that are burning alive and blowing up children in Afghanistan, or order his Attorney General to stop prosecuting whistle-blowers, along with many other simple, moral, just acts, I don't understand why people expect him to do good things at any time, let alone right away.
18
I'm not sure any conclusions can be made about the American electorate when only 40% or less of them show up on voting day (or make their voices heard via absentee ballot). I'm not sure any conclusions can be drawn about the people who stay at home and don't vote. Do they just not give a damn? Well, some sure don't. Have they lost faith in the American political system? Probably. Do they have no opinion one way or the other? Not likely. Do they feel it just doesn't matter because it's all bullshit anyway? And how might one overcome that? I thought President Obama was a likely candidate to convert many - him going into DC to crack some whip - and he certainly has done a bit of that. Has it been enough? And what about all those Blue Dog Democrats? What the fuck is up with that? If you want to be a Republican, be a Republican but don't sell yourself as a Democrat and then be an obstructionist to Democratic bills.

I do find it mind-boggling that there can be resistance to health care reform from poor people in Red States who might (would) benefit from the reform. Here's the question: Should someone who is sick in America be able to get medical attention regardless of income? Please don't bother me with extraneous arguments about not being able to see "your guy" or doctors leaving their practice because they will no longer be able to make $200K a year. What I want to know is whether or not the American people are opposed to someone being able to see a doctor regardless of income. The rest of the industrialized world has answered that question, but we seem to get all muddied up with shit poured on us by special interests. And why don't people recognize that? Does everyone work for an insurance company?

Makes me long to be an ex-pat.
19
@17- You're right, but at the same time there's just no significant political pressure to do the right thing. The opposition party is even more evil and would take things further over the cliff, and within Obama's base there's a feeling of being hostage to country where a healthy majority of people are either in denial about our deep sins or just don't care. If the popular will was there, if the American people were really as special as we like to think we are, everyone would be screaming to put an end to our atrocities. But that's a conversation we're simply not having at a national level, and that's not a position that politicians get rewarded for taking, and that's (part of) what's wrong with our country.
20
I always remember my Junior High School class elections one year. One of the candidates for class president promised to "get a soda machine" for the cafeteria. Another candidate promised "half-day Fridays". The third candidate -- who received almost no votes (though he did receive mine) -- simply said; "they're both lying. All a class president can really do is lead meetings of the student council."

It was eye-opening, to say the least. Oh, and the guy who promised the soda machine -- which we didn't get, of course -- won in a tight margin over the half-Friday guy. I've always wondered if it was because his lie was somehow more believable.
21
@19, I understand what you're saying. And you describe a political reality. But if one of your family members was pictured here:

http://www.rawa.org/temp/runews/rawagall…

would it matter one iota to you that the GOP is "more evil?" What would that even mean?

If Obama was to take the steps necessary to end our making things like that happen (and, indeed, he could accomplish this easier than most tasks before him) would it truly empower the GOP? Could he look at those victims' relatives and say, "This will continue to happen, because the Republicans will be worse." Will he empower the GOP if he stops the AG from destroying the lives of good American whistle blowers? (And note that his administration is prosecuting them at a higher rate than the Bush administration.) Is it necessary for the Obama administration to explicitly support indefinite detention without charges for people suspected of terrorism? If he stops that injustice, will the GOP then be empowered? Is it necessary for the Obama administration to be less progressive than Coulter and Will in regards to gay marriage? Will the GOP gain power if Obama says that warrantless wiretaps are not just unconstitutional, but wrong and un-American?

If Obama decided that he would spend four years ending the most obvious and immediate injustices committed by our government and politics be damned, I would support him to the end. But that will never happen when politicians are encouraged, through a "lesser of two evils" philosophy, that it's okay to do evil things as long as your opponent does a few more.
22
I think for most people the problem lies in the sputtering economy. 2 years to fix the economy isn't a lot of time, but we should be seeing some real progress. Alas, we are not. The stimulus is a bust (as far as creating new jobs), and we are on the edge of a double dip recession if we haven't entered one already. I can't fault people for wanting to try a different approach. I brought up the fact that I might vote for Rossi at a party yesterday, and only avoided catching unholy hell by taking my fussy baby home.

And Jeremy, if you are reading this, kindly go fuck yourself. :)
23
This Eugene Robinson WaPo column, more than any other piece of commentary I can recall, cuts through the noise and captures the political essence of our time. When I first read it a few days ago, I called up my folks back east and read the entire piece to them over the phone. And I never do that.

I'm afraid that 50 or 100 years from now historians will come across this Robinson column and realize its timeliness and the painful times it heralded. Of course, the way things are going, 50 or 100 years from now historians and history might have all the cultural importance that poetry and poets have today.

For another column in the same vein, though not quite so great, I would recommend Frank Rich's column in today's NY Times, Freedom’s Just Another Word.
24
Rotten666:
I can't fault people for wanting to try a different approach. I brought up the fact that I might vote for Rossi at a party yesterday, and only avoided catching unholy hell by taking my fussy baby home.

This is a bit like saying, "Hey, the chemotherapy isn't working on my cancer. Maybe it's time to break out the snake oil."

This is what happens when times are bad and the public doesn't know how things are going to get better. They do things like vote for Dino Rossi.
25
Fifty-Two-Eighty: Bullshit. People are pissed off right now, and you know what? They have a right to be pissed off.

OK, genius, tell me, what steps should our elected leaders be taking to set our economy and our nation on the right course?

Has it ever occurred to you that maybe this country has gotten in such a hole because politicians are scared to death of pissing off people just like you? So when are you going to look in the mirror and realize you only have yourself to be pissed off at.
26
If I had a completely infantile world view I would certainly agree with you. But the world is not black and white, kid. Shit aint that simple.

And yeah, it's 5280's fault nothing is getting better. What grade are you in?
27
For starters, Cressona, how about we get a few people in office who give a shit more about the 15% of their constituency who are eating rice and beans every day because they haven't worked in a year than they care about the oil companies and the banks making record profits? There's more, but that would be a good start.
28
The country's in a hole because millions of decadent, delusional Americans thought they could afford things they couldn't. Wall Street made bad things available, but it was the American people who were stupid enough to fall for it.

And in their fuzzy bliss, fewer than half of them even bother turning out to vote for politicians who send their low-skill, manufacturing jobs overseas, defund their children's schools and give tax breaks to the very CEOs who of course lay them off.

And now they want someone to blame. I could die laughing.
29
Forget about raising taxes. CUT SPENDING. Jesus, the insatiable desire to spend spend spend by both the Democrats and the Republics is disgusting. What a great business government has become for them, while the rest of America gets sucked dry.

Fine, some of you want to tax and grow the government -- that's a legitimate political position. But an equally sound one is to slash spending and restore fiscal prudence without expanding the government through new taxes.

PS If the GOP gets into power again and returns to the same old BS of borrowing and spending, they will have their asses handed to them too. But right now, it's the Democrats who are in the crosshairs. It won't be pretty.
30
The problem with Robinson's analysis is that it presupposes a "Golden Age of the American Electorate" when people didn't look for quick fixes. Just look at President Lincoln's re-election in 1864 (it was highly in doubt until timely Union victories) or the decision to drop the atomic bombs on Japan in 1945 (based largely to get the war over quickly).

It almost seems like Robinson (and some comments here) are wishing the days when the only the rich white guys could vote were back (after all, they run everything anyway, right?)
31

No fair.

No fair.

Waaahh.

I don't wanna play no more....they're CHEATING!

I'm going HOME!


--Democrat Whiner Watching His Man Fall in the Polls
32
We could pay for a lot of the things mentioned in Robinson's WaPo article if we stopped spending trillions of dollars on war and the machines of war. How much would we have to trim from the Pentagon budget to pay for universal health care and fully-subsidized higher education?
33
Sometimes the most simple explanation is the best: Our "representatives" are psychopaths, compulsive liars, kleptomaniacs, and deranged religious fanatics because, in fact, they are representative.

Same with the current fiscal death spasm of the middle class: Everyone's asking "what's happened to the eCONomy? What's wrong with eCONomy?" Nothing is wrong, in the sense that it's behaving precisely as developed and designed over the last 30 years, with the riche$t AmeriKKKan$ hoovering up trillion$.
34
@20 Wow. That's a really fascinating story, and one we should all keep in mind. We really don't want to end up voting for the guy who offers the most appealing lie.
35
Rotten666 @26 defending a possible vote for Dino Rossi against my accusation that Dino is snake oil:
If I had a completely infantile world view I would certainly agree with you. But the world is not black and white, kid. Shit aint that simple.

So tell me, how exactly would Dino Rossi be an improvement over Patty Murray, besides just that Patty's with the party in power? What policy solutions does Dino offer, what tough choices does Dino propose to make that elevate him above just another snake oil salesman?

Isn't "throw da bums out" (never mind who the other bums are) the essence of making things appear simpler than they really are?
36
Fifty-Two-Eighty @27:
For starters, Cressona, how about we get a few people in office who give a shit more about the 15% of their constituency who are eating rice and beans every day because they haven't worked in a year than they care about the oil companies and the banks making record profits? There's more, but that would be a good start.

Actually, I totally agree with you about this. But the oil companies are a great example of what I'm talking about.

The Bush administration was government of the oil companies, by the oil companies, and for the oil companies. They even managed to throw away 4,500 American lives and a trillion dollars to fight a war for the oil companies. But we wouldn't have gotten the Bush administration if we Americans didn't believe it was our inalienable American right to have the lowest-cost gas at all possible costs. Other advanced Western democracies aren't so in thrall to the oil companies like we are, they have dramatically higher gas taxes, and they couldn't get away with this without their public's consent.

Also worth reading. The New Yorker's piece on how some shadowy oil and chemical billionaires have poured countless millions of dollars into what has become the Tea Party.
37
Teslick @30:
The problem with Robinson's analysis is that it presupposes a "Golden Age of the American Electorate" when people didn't look for quick fixes. Just look at President Lincoln's re-election in 1864 (it was highly in doubt until timely Union victories) or the decision to drop the atomic bombs on Japan in 1945 (based largely to get the war over quickly).

Methinks you've overstated your case. For all the terrible sins our democracy committed during WWII, the war really was a golden age of American democracy, insofar as that can be identified with people's willingness to sacrifice for the common good. It blows one's mind the sacrifices Americans willingly made to win a war that was being fought overseas. And try reading a little bit about Truman's decision to drop the bomb. I wouldn't exactly call it impatience or pandering to drop the bomb when the alternative was a land invasion of Japan that would have cost a million American lives and made Afghanistan look like a small skirmish.

In any event, you're setting up a strawman here. Robinson's argument isn't premised on, "Oh, American democracy was better in the good old days." The independents and swing voters of 2010 are no better informed than they were in 2008. Just, in 2008 there was another party in power. We've had a free lunch culture for generations now, and unfortunately, the loudest voices against a free lunch are those people who honestly think you can have a competitive 21st century economy by going back to an early 19th century social contract.
39
@22

The stimulus was NOT a bust. Every independent non partisan analysis out there shows that the stimulus saved or created millions of jobs. But the Great Recession was so great that this was not enough to do much more than stop the bleeding. Failing to fight for a bigger stimulus was the original sin of the Obama Administration.
40
cressona @ 37:
I wouldn't exactly call it impatience or pandering to drop the bomb when the alternative was a land invasion of Japan that would have cost a million American lives and made Afghanistan look like a small skirmish.
Well, without turning this into a debate of late war policy, there were more than a few in FDR/Truman administrations that thought a land invasion was avoidable (War Secretary Stimson, for one) if Japan was given an "honorable" way out, or starving Japan via blockade and conventional bombing. In any event, there was a definite sense of war-weariness and the proponents of the bomb sought its use to short-circuit the inevitable surrender.
Robinson's argument isn't premised on, "Oh, American democracy was better in the good old days." The independents and swing voters of 2010 are no better informed than they were in 2008.
Ok, then what is Robinson's argument premised on? When did the electorate have all this patience and understanding? Even FDR lost his New Deal momentum after the elections in 1938, after the 1937 "double dip" in the Depression.

I understand what Robinson and you are saying, but all I'm saying, is yes, but what's new? Anyway, thanks for the discussion and your thoughtful posts...
41
@8 gets it - as I'd expect from a Zappa fan.
42
@38 stated, "The most amazing event in my lifetime politically and economically were the late-Clinton-era budget surpluses."

To which, I would have to agree. For myself, I saw my annual salary increase by 33%, under the Clinton administration, simply by changing companies. In 1998 I made a base salary of 55k plus a quarterly performance-based bonus. Under the Bush administration I witnessed company layoffs and annual salary increases drop from a mere 2% to 0%. Job performance requirements have increased, salaries have decreased. Fast forward 12 years later (2010) and jobs of similar responsibility are being offered at 38k - 40k. Far below what they paid in 1998.

Yet, almost on a daily basis, I read where the CEOs / Businesses / wealthiest continue to add to their coffers and the poor and middle class continue to be squeezed out of existence. Do the Democrats have all the answers? No. But the republicans sure don't. Just look at the mess they've put us in.
43
Amen.
44
@#1 That graph was too hard to understand. I hate you just as you hate America.
45
Dan, the column is simplistic. Some things take time to correct, like, arguably, the economy or achieving a breakthrough in the Middle East, but others could be done very easily. When 70% of the country supports repealing DADT, then it is outrageous that it hasn't been done already. When the President has the authority to stop the discharges under DADT, it is outrageous that it hasn't been done already. When a majority of the country is in favor of ENDA, then it is outrageous that a cowardly Congress and a timid President haven't forced a vote on it already. The people have a right to be impatient and dispirited by the lack of action on things that could quickly be done, and which were promised by the ruling party; other things may well take time to be accomplished, though it does not appear that the President and the Congress are doing very much about them either.
46
@7- People have a right to be angry, they just don't have a right to be stupid.

OK, actually they DO have a right to be stupid. I just wish they'd cut it out.
47
No poetry-thank the ..somebody....
48
@45 The part I find most maddening is that Obama and the Democrats, especially the Senate Dems, are allowing the Republican'ts and yes, certain factions of their own party, to quietly stall these changes. Things might be more apparent if they had to actively filibuster or vote down motions.

I think your "most of the country" argument is similarly and overly simplistic, in that it ignores how our government is actually structured. That a couple of fuckwits from Oklahoma believe that they can get re-elected by pandering to unequality faction, in many ways matters more than majority opinion of the electorate in Massachusetts, and much more than arguably completely unrepresented "American People".

Yes, this shit is outrageous, but even with stupid tactics and unfulfilled promises, there still is a big difference between friends and enemies here.
49
How smart were the people when they voted in 2008?

How come they are suddenly so dumb?

You act like this isn't all about your policy prefences getting spat out by people after the first taste.
50
@49: I'm surprised you can spell Stalin, you drooling moron.
51
@50: +7 Internets.
52
i think it was homer simpson who said "how many times do i have to tell you: democracy doesn't work!"