Uberfetus steps up onto soapbox.
I'm not going to give my political beliefs about teachers unions, guns, taxes, etc. here. That's for another node. I expect most people will read dannye's The Liberal Agenda and concentrate too much on the individual issues. "Pro-guns? What a Neanderthal!!" "Reagan? He only wanted tax cuts for the rich!" and etc. In the end they'll probably write him off as "another foolish conservative" or something. That way of looking at that node is probably not very constructive.
dannye had some good points but he dressed them up in too much political rhetoric to make those points easy to swallow for most people. I'm sure he had good intentions though. (honestly!) I doubt he agrees with all that follows here. But people disagreeing has never really bothered me.
First of all, there really is a Liberal Agenda. It's the exact same as the Conservative Agenda: gain power. This idea upsets a lot of people. "I really do believe in (such and such an issue)!" you might say to yourself. "I just don't want power!"
Well yeah, that's probably true. But the party as a whole is concerned foremost with power. Since the original node was for "The Liberal Agenda", I'll concentrate on the Democratic Party. However, don't worry, my liberal friends- most of the same stuff can be applied to the Republican Party as well.
If Al Gore was secretly opposed to teachers' unions, do you think he would come out and say so? What about if he was really pro-life? (There's a lot that suggests he is pro-life, by the way.) Of course he wouldn't! He obviously would not win any large election if he did that. When you think about it, isn't it kind of weird how political parties are? Miraculuously, 95% of all elected Democrats seem to be pro-choice, pro-affirmative action, pro-gay rights, anti-gun, pro-union, pro-welfare, pro-big government, pro-teacher, pro-tax, broad constructionists, and so-on and so-on. The interests of these different groups definitely do not always overlap, but it stays one party because there's strength in numbers. If you want to be the big candidate, you have to toe the party line.
It's downright creepy the amount of people who totally agree with either of the two platforms. The reason for this is the Us and Them mentality of the two-party system. Sadly, most Americans don't care very much about politics and are ready to believe just about anything their party tells them to. If Bill Clinton comes up with an idea (ha!) about education, Democrats are likely to buy into it even before they hear what it is. And Republicans are predisposed to thinking that the idea sucks. It's like rooting for a sports team - the other side "sucks" and must be wrong just because they're not the home team.
Media manipulation seems to be the big tool for polarizing the public. When Democrats talk in public they choose their words carefully. Democrats have tax plans; Republicans have tax schemes. Democrats want to save Social Security; Republicans want to doom Social Security. And I'm sure Hillary Clinton loves the children, but probably about the same amount that she loves the checks rolling in from the public school teachers for her campaign. But remember, smug right-wingers, the same goes for Republicans.
Neither side really wants widespread death or pestilence, but that doesn't stop the parties from presenting each other as hateful, close-minded, godless, stupid, evil, etc. Just because Republicans are against the newest Democratic health care plan doesn't really mean that they want old people to die, but that's what the Democrats want the public to hear. Sometimes the parties war over what amounts to only a few bucks of budget, just in an attempt to demonize each other. Even issues on which the parties have similar stances become battlegrounds. It's a pathetic war for your mind. They might as well be selling used cars instead of ideas. Since most people base their votes more on political rhetoric or who their daddy voted for than a detailed analysis of the issues, the shitty system continues.
Talking about issues doesn't get you elected. Making people afraid of your opponents does. So does having a winning smile and pretty eyes. So does kissing babies, holding little black children, and promising voters money. Why? Well, a lot of people aren't very smart. An image, a sound bite, a certain look is worth a thousand words of boring policy. A single powerful lie can be worth a book's worth of truth to the soccer moms listening to news radio on their way to pick up the kids.
Is it their fault, "them" being the ignorant masses? Nah, not really. Is every minor detail of the country's method of governing their duty to work on? There's lives to live, people to fall in love with, sunny days to enjoy. There's work to do, video games to play, homework to do. Don't we have the right to just vote for whoever wears the ugliest tie? The crowd asks, "Can't we just let the politicians play their games and hope they don't do enough damage to affect us?" I can't answer that. We can't force people to take an interest in their government.
But what can we do to make things right with our system? Abolish democracy and allow only certain "intelligent" people to vote? Abolish "bad ideas"? Who decides what is "intelligent" or "bad"? The sober reality is that this democracy is probably the best we're gonna get. Howevever, there are ways to fix it. There are ways to make elections open exchanges of political ideas and not WWF matches and beauty contests.
I just don't think any of us are smart enough to figure out how yet.
Besides, "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire!" is on, so who cares?
(Uberfetus steps down off soapbox and puts on his headphones. Thinks to self: "Ugh. It's a Kraftwerk night. I'll probably disagree with half of this tomorrow.")