Monday, October 22, 2012

Why a Romney Victory Would Be Disastarous for American Democracy - But Not Because of Romney

Scorched Earth was/is a great video game, but it was/is a
terrible role model for a political party.

As many of you may have noticed, I've been blogging less as of late - my wife and I have been very busy trying to get ready for the impending arrival of the Babycrat, and I have been so dispirited by this political season that I've been actively trying not to think about politics because all that does is piss me off - therefore, I've had neither much time nor desire to put fingers to keyboard, as it were.

But, I felt I needed to write something on this, the eve(ning) of the last Presidential debate, and something that I hope adds some intelligence to the general political discourse at the moment. Unfortunately, the mainstream media is all-consumed with the political horse-race - who is leading in this poll or that, who gaffed, who looked more or less at ease in this or that debate, etc. I say "unfortunately" because NONE OF THAT MATTERS - the only things that *should* matter in political elections are the candidates' concrete policies, since that's the only thing that will affect people after the election.

For those who seek information about the candidates' policies, a lot of information is out there, and personally, I think it's obvious that voters who aren't rich, white, heterosexual, Christian, and male should not vote for Mitt Romney.

But that's about Romney himself, and reasonable people can disagree about what Romney's policies mean for their own personal lives and for the county in general.

However, I think it is less easy to disagree over the larger damage to U.S. democracy a Romney victory would cause, on account of HOW Romney will have won the Presidency - not because of WHO his is or WHAT he would do as President. There are two primary sources of this damage:
  1. Unprecedented amounts of untraceable cash, most of it flowing to pro-Romney organizations, have spread unprecedented numbers of lies and misinformation about both Obama and Romney, subverting the democratic process and destroying the ability of the public to made political decisions based on facts - because with their unlimited money, these groups have divorced this political race from both history and the truth.
    • As detailed by the Atlantic, most of the untraceable money has benefited the Republicans, and as demonstrated by the various fact-checking websites, most of the attacks leveled at Obama by this money have been misleading or outright false.
    • Even as the top 1% of income earners have gotten more of the economic pie, a subset of the 1% have decided to eschew their responsibility to the society that has enabled their success and have decided to spend hundreds of millions (or even billions - we don't know for sure) of dollars to install their chosen candidate as President. It's hard to imagine that Romney's campaign would have been as competitive as it has been (indeed, he might not have even been the Republican nominee) without all this untraceable money spewing lies on his behalf.
    • Given how both the Republicans and Supreme Court view this issue, the only way to change this situation is probably a Constitutional Amendment that defines "free speech" more precisely - which will likely never happen, at least not anytime soon. The only other possibility is not to reward the backers of these shadowy organizations with electoral victories.
  2. A Romney victory would validate the scorched-earth politics of the Republican Party for the past four years, setting an extremely destructive precedent for how a party out-of-power can achieve electoral victory.
    • The Republican Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, admitted that the Republicans' number one priority was making Obama a one-term President - NOT creating jobs, turning the American economy around, reducing the deficit, "protecting" marriage, ending abortion, spreading democracy around the world, or any other actual policy goal.
    • The Republicans have done their damnedest to make good on this promise - they have opposed Obama at every turn possible, trying to thwart every effort made by the Obama Administration and Democrats in Congress to improve the American economy, support job creation, make long-term investments (in education, infrastructure, research, or anything else), or accomplish anything else. Often, the Obama Administration did themselves no favors in this arena, but the Republicans almost certainly made the Great Recession deeper and longer than it otherwise would have been, thanks to their scorched-earth, take-no-prisoners tactics.
    • The American democratic system is built upon the concept of the loyal opposition - the American system has so many checks and balances that even a minority party can completely halt the political process, leading to total political gridlock if the minority party decides that it will, under no circumstances, cooperate with the majority party.
    • So, the Republicans have done their best to shut down the American policy-making process for the past four years, and now their electoral strategy is to blame Obama for the fact that nothing has gotten done in Washington in the past four years.
    • If it is shown that a minority party can regain power by shutting down the American political process and then blaming the party in power, we can anticipate at least a decade or two of weak Presidents, total political stalemates, nothing but kicking the can down the road, and continued American decline, until things finally get so bad that the voters demand a serious shake-up along the lines of amending the Constitution.
On November 6, I encourage you to think about how you want the American political system to function over the next couple of decades and think about whether you want to reward (1) the undisclosed super-wealthy who are attempting to purchase this election by spending unprecedented amounts of cash to spread unprecedented numbers of lies and misinformation and (2) a political party seeking to retake power through obstructionist, scorched-earth politics - and if you want to accept with that all of the implications rewarding these people would have for the future of American democracy.

Instead of rewarding these groups and further damaging American democracy, I would encourage you to vote for the only moderate centrist in the Presidential race - President Barack Obama.

Don't reward the cockroaches - otherwise, they'll be all we have left in our political system.

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