Parties are artificial to me. Alignments are justified on issues but don’t come easy and should not last long. Though alliances are unquestionably useful, group identity gives me the willies. Groups are pernicious and demean individual integrity and openness. They also spawn presumptions that border on lunacy and ultimately undermine the effectiveness of concerted effort.
American politics are like hamburger – or, more likely, pink slime – we don’t know what is in it and it takes numerous and diverse condiments to make it palatable. Politics will always be inherently necessary and distasteful.
In American national elections there are usually two candidates to choose from and one is clearly the better person for the position. Considering past Presidential elections, with the exception of 1992 and 2000, featuring the spoiler Perot and the attention-seeking Nader respectively, the clear best won. In our country of late, due to fringe voters and backers with big wallets, the losing party has not forwarded good candidates for President. It has not been just a question of party.
I will not lie to you, the opposition candidate would have to stink like a three-days-dead yeller dog before I would vote for a Republican. Only occasionally do I consider doing so in my own state, where there are usually two or three dead dogs on the ballot and the established Republican has proven himself more or less reasonable and honorable.
But we liberals and moderates do get it: conservative whites will never forgive Carter for being a good man, Clinton for being a better conservative than those in the other party (and a philanderer, for which Democrats will not forgive him either), or Obama for being an intelligent, calm black man, for being elected twice by a majority for President, and for not embarrassing himself, his family, his core objectives, or the nation before the world.
I get it personally: I can read the latest review of Henry Kissinger’s writing and agree with almost all of it. But I cannot easily forgive him for squandering the lives of thousands of young men in pursuit of an ideal of honorable peace that was impracticable based on the principles of world order in his own late-life pronouncements.
The world is a dangerous place – any moron knows that – but just how dangerous and to what degree in what quarters is up for reasonable disagreement. Anger, theatrics, and lies have little constructive role in deliberations about military action or policy in general. For that reason I never watch Fox News or MSNBC, except for lampoons of both by Colbert.
Today is not 1964 or 1968 – the mirror tells us that. Those who know too much about history (and too little of human psychology) and focus ever backwards are doomed to fear reliving history over and over again. Obama’s administration had no need to fabricate the severed heads of American citizens, or the agony of Syrian and Iraqi minorities, for the nations of the world to see and judge reality for themselves. His military actions in the Middle East might indeed veer into worse involvements for American soldiers, but they could also prevent worse as well. So-called conservatives McCain and Graham squeaked and screamed for deeper involvement and obviously crave more still. Those on the right who think and act as if they possess better military intelligence and foresight than regular folks can whisper their superior notions to one another and tut-tut the bipartisan will of Congress, but if they do not enter the public forum and prove it, they are no more than Walter Mittys of political debate and citizenship. Most do not want war, but most also want to help improve dangerous international situations. It is not just a question of party or mass stupidity.
I say to 2014, I knew 1964 intimately and you are not 1964. You, 2014, are also not 2003. You are something new from something old. That is what both liberalism and conservatism stand for. Defeat, revolution, totalitarianism, and nihilism are the polar opposites.