Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Trying to understand the other point of view

Jeffy here again (finally)-

I have not posted anything here in a very long time. I just haven't had much of interest to say lately. I've been very interested in the politicking in this never-ending Presidential campaign, but my views really don't seem all that interesting. What I've really been hoping to find is some well-reasoned summary of why a person might actually vote for the Republican ticket this year. I don't think that this blog is a place where I am likely to hear much feedback from intelligent McCain supporters.

I know that there is a large chunk of his support base who are there because of their religious beliefs. I think that they are wrong to believe that McCain is their kind of Christian, but the Republicans and the religious right have been in bed together for so long now that I think it is another act of faith.

It is also understandable that the few true fat cats in our society would have reason to fall in behind the Republican ticket.

What baffles me, though, is the huge number of so-called 'Joe Sixpacks' who are a big part of the nearly half of the electorate who will end up voting for McCain. I'd really love to know how it is that these folks can think that they would be better off with the Republicans running the show.

Luckily for me, there was a good example of each candidate's followers presented in our local Sunday paper. I wasn't very interested in the Obama supporter's opinions, but I was anxious to see what the McCain support had to say.

He started with the fairly predictable subject of taxes. He is convinced that the economy is better off if we keep taxes low so that those who make piles of money can decide who best to pass it along to. He states this as a proven 'fact', without citing any proof. I think that if you look at how the economy has fared over the last few decades it would be pretty hard to link low taxes with a strong economy. This just seems like a veiled attempt to justify wanting to not pay taxes.

His next topic was the war in Iraq. His basic thesis was that since McCain was "right on the surge" he would have the best strategy going forward. Again, I don't think that there is any way to know what sort of difference the 'surge' made or whether it was a good idea or not. I also think that it is quite interesting that this McCain supporter sees no connection between this hugely expensive folly in Iraq and the need for substantial taxes to pay for it. I am pretty sure that defense is a major part of our budget, and it just seems amazingly dim to think that we should be spending a lot on defense without taxing people to pay for it.

The third item on his list was abortion. He is anti-abortion, and thinks that McCain is too (even though McCain has not had much interest in the topic in the past). I think that this is largely a case of religion sneaking in, and it kind of drives me nuts that an issue that directly affect so few people ends up being a constant big deal in our politics.

In the end it was all a little unsatisfying. I still don't see how the average American who truly thinks independently can come to the conclusion that the Republican ticket is the best choice.

I'll keep watching for signs of rational thought, if anyone spots any please pass it along.


wunelle said...

I suspect there's a lot of this uncritical acceptance of a party's line on both sides. But the rich are few in number, and the right could not be in power without a base of normal folks. And it's odd, as you say, that such a big contingent of the right wing pulls for someone else's agenda, espousing stuff that hurts them: they will have to pony up for the war's deficit and provide all the soldiers for the cause; they are made less safe by that war; their tax burden is higher proportionally than the rich by far; abortion restricts THEIR reproductive options--the rich will get their abortion whatever the law. This is one of Karl Rove's greatest achievements.

But what a pact with the devil! I'm amazed also that the true conservatives--those whom William F. Buckley famously said he spent his career trying to separate from "the kooks"--do not riot over the complete subversion of their principles. In terms of government expansion and fiscal management, this past eight years has catastrophically undermined every key principle. Yet Christopher Buckley was forced by a firestorm to resign from the National Review (supposedly an organ of 'real' conservatism) for not supporting McCain and another editor received a hail of hate mail for calling Palin "an embarrassment."

Jeffy said...

I suspect that the Republican party thought they could get the religious vote as a reliable voting block, but still maintain their core party platform. However, it now appears that the religious folks have basically taken the party over. It just may be the death of the party, as we seem to be left with the worst ideas from both sides. The fundies want to push their crazy agenda, that even mainstream Christians don't want, and the conservatives are left to push for financial goodies for the rich, leaving most Republicans unhappy with the party. If the middle class Republicans would wise up to how they are being manipulated by tax-related fear mongering they would leave the fundies and fat cats with their little shell of a party and no chance of getting candidates elected.

wunelle said...

The question of taxation bugs me. Both candidates are selling how they're going to cut taxes on so many people, yet we have a gargantuan shortfall which, I believe, MUST be addressed. We need more revenue, and (if we can find a way to do it) targeted spending cuts.

Well, I've heard a zillion times my Republican coworkers--who are in the group upon whom Obama has promised to rescind the W tax cuts--howling about the proposed increases.

Why, I wonder, do they not hold W accountable for incurring the debt which we are now obligated to make good? Whatever the sins & foibles of Democratic tax and spend policy, the Iraq war dwarfs every other expenditure--and far, far outstrips whatever petty "programs" the right despises. Why is this OK? This lack of honest accounting is another nail in the Republican coffin, but we are all to blame for not being able to hear the truth of our situation. It's widely-accepted political wisdom that any politician who admits to seeking a revenue increase will fail at the polls.

We can and should demand care and discretion and transparency in government spending. Perhaps a wholesale overhaul is in order. But FIRST, we must put out the raging fire that threatens to engulf the entire nation. I'm girding myself for the pain of the fix. But it MUST be fixed.