OT: Thoughts on Politics in the US - Avert your Eyes!

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Bill Loguidice
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Now, I for one typically abstain from discussing hot button topics like religion and politics because there is significant emotional investments by people, which often results in hurt feelings, sensibilities, or worse. With that said, I occasionally make the mistake of dabbling in a bit of political talk on places like Facebook because of some truly out there beliefs from otherwise normal people (as if I'm one to talk). ;-)

With that in mind, I wanted to run something by you guys and see how off base I am. I'm no political scientist by any stretch of the imagination, but I do keep up with things as best I can. Here are my actual thoughts from Facebook that I'd love to hear some comments on (let's be civil and respectful, though!). Am I way off? Do you think the two party system works? (you can probably guess our respective political ideologies):

On today's election and the likely results:
Me: The sad fact of the matter is with Republicans back in control of at least one of the houses, absolutely nothing will get done over the next two years, so it's a loss for everyone. This two party system blows because if one or the other is in power, it's the job of the other one to undermine their efforts - even if they're good efforts - in the interest of the party, not the country. Hopefully someday this will change.

A woman: With the damage being done daily by our government, a little break might be in order. "The most sensible request we make of government is not "Do something!" but "Quit it!" -- P.J. O'Rourke

Me: Well, there's always a way to argue the other side. I just don't know if we need a two year+ break from doing things.

A woman: @Bill...if the two party system "blows", as you put it...what would you suggest? A one-party system? I think they have that in China...it DOES ensure the power of the government...that's for sure. Powerful governments get a lot done.

Me: Well, I don't think anyone can argue that our two party system is a success. Honestly, just as the founders intended, there should be far more than two parties. Two parties is probably the worst case scenario because the only way anything gets done is if one party has most of the power, which is a one party system anyway. What we need is more diversity of interests/parties and people who actually vote how they believe and what's right rather than what's in the interests of their party. That's why we have this constant ping-pong of Republicans in power for a short time and Democrats in power for a short time. Each side gets the power, screws up or gets undermined, people get disenfranchised, then the other party takes over for a while, screws up or gets undermined, people disenfranchised, etc. It's a vicious cycle. As I've always said, politics today are too black and white. The other side can't be 100% wrong, but that's how each side portrays the other. Sad.

A woman: Good answer. Here's my observation...politics has become "centralized" into two parties because of all the power that has been centralized in Washington. It's a high stakes game to grab that power. Everyone wants it. If we had kept government properly restrained by the limits of the Constitution, we might have a much more diverse political representation. But when so much power over our lives is in Washington, no one can afford to vote third party...everyone has skin in the game because Washington can do so much to screw you...if we had an emasculated Fed and increased state power, then third parties could get their legs under them at the state level...and actually do something with their ideas, thereby proving whether the ideas really worked.

States were envisioned to be mini laboratories of social and economic and political experimentation. Let the people choose how they wanted to live. If it didn't work, they could move...or change it through the vote. Much easier than when it is centralized in Washington and the interests of, say, California simply run roughshod over the interests of South Dakota.

Me: (no response, not a big believer that the old states rights debate is the answer and no interest in going down that route)

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Matt Barton
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I don't know much about Ralph

I don't know much about Ralph Nader other than what he said during his run for president several years ago (I think he was running against George W.) He made all valid points and convinced me that we really do need a strong third party in the U.S. I think it should just be a moderate party that (as Rob suggested) combines a social liberal and a free trade agenda. Of course, I must differ from Tea Party type folks who want to do away with public education and services. The very idea of a privatized police or fire department scares most people, but education is really even more important in the long run. If you don't properly educate the poor, they will always be poor. I am a textbook example of someone who was able to use public education to rise far above what my parents and grandparents were able to accomplish. (Grandpa -- 8th grade education. Dad -- graduated high school. My brother and I -- college graduates). Of course there will always be ingrates who won't take advantage of it, but so be it. You can lead a horse to water...

I also think it's important to differentiate between "government waste" and "government spending." Obviously, there are always many useless programs and wasteful spending, particularly the military-industrial complex. The spending there is absolutely out of control, yet you hardly ever hear politicians promising to do anything about that. Instead they talk about abolishing the Department of Education, social security, medical care, NASA spending, etc. In other words, what they consider wasteful is what is actually useful. On the other hand, something that truly is wasteful (all the trillions wasted on contracts with Haliburton et al.) go unnoticed.

I also like what Mark said about people on the dole being required to look for work. I know far too many people who "give up" and live off the government, and to make matters worse, have child after child. Sometimes they don't even know the identity of the father.

Another thing I feel strongly about is abortion. Perhaps I'm just a heartless bastard, but it seems to me that a woman who feels she is incapable or unwilling to raising a healthy child should absolutely have this option, and I would love for the government to foot the bill whenever necessary. It's not a "polite" or "nice" topic of discussion, but the fact is that we don't need more crack babies. In my opinion, anti-abortion advocates would be better off spending their money and time trying to help children who are already born, who need education and in my cases the basic needs of life (food, shelter, etc.) Why can't these hypocrites worry about the kids dying of AIDS in Africa rather than blowing up an abortion clinic? Anyway...

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Mark Vergeer
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Not race - but accessibility

I was pleasantly surprised with Obama being elected because this proved to me that US politics are more accessible less elitist then I thought but still one has to have a fair big wad of money in order to get anything done and make a difference. So money does talk!

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clok1966
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"I personally was pleasantly

"I personally was pleasantly surprised that the US chose their first Afro American President. Since then I see that his popularity has wained drastically. But how come? Did people expect too much from him? Did he raise too high expectations himself?"

Unforntantly his color was FAR to much of the reason he was elected. You KNOW there where people who voted for him based on that entirely, and people who didnt vote for him becuase of that. That should never have been even a small part of the election process. The real sad thing is, now that he was elected, its not going to happen again (colored person), not becuase of his color, but becuase he is going to appear (real or imagined) unsuccesfull, and some of the people who did vote for him based on color wont again.... We still have a long way to go, its just a fact.

Ralph Nader- Not a fan, he killed the Corvarr (chevy rear engine, rear wheel drive car) a rear wheel drive ecno car by chevy in the mid 60's with a volkswagon type air cooled engine. It set American car makers back YEARs in the "small car" wars. The car was no more unsafe than a Porche (also rear wheel drive and engine) or about 20 other cars made at the time. He was alos a huge part of the ford PINTO exploding gas tank stuff (also, not the deal it was made out to be)..
he has some great ideas, but is far to extreme and uses Extreme lawsuits to get ahead and notice. You ask where he is now? He is suing the DEMOCRATES of conspiring to keep him off the ballot in the 2004 presidential race. LAWSUIT! TV time..

hmm maybe he is brilliant! free advertising :)

TripHamer
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In a perfect world of course.
Mark Vergeer wrote:

Sorry to say this but this exactly is sinewave thinking. Slow the government down is that a good thing? Think not as many urgent matters do need decisions and laws made for them. We don't want politicians arguing about trivial things but we want decisions and implementation of those decisions.

Politics should be accessible for all. In the US it is only possible to be politically active and get somewhere if you join the crazy spending spree. what if that money was spent in disaster areas helping people get back on their feet instead of slandering opposing politicians and by doing this even straying away from what you stand for. Politics have in some countries almost become a commercial activity.

Basically the Democrats got the behinds handed to them by the voters who cast out over 60 of them (and I think that is just in the House). Obviously 2 years of a single party ramming thru whatever they wanted was not what the people wanted. And I'm sure the Democrats took notice of that fact also.
If memory serves me, when the Republicans had it all (I think, maybe most of it), in the following election they lost it too (this was a couple of years ago). So now with 2 parties holding the cards, Democrats (President, Senate) and Republicans (House), it's much more difficult for either party to completely get what they want.

However in cases like 911, they all got together and rammed stuff thru. Recall the Patriot Act. So there are times and things that they will come to agreement on. Stuff will happen...just not in near freefall speeds. Not everything one party wants will happen, but it will happen. And perhaps the politicians will be more likely to listen to the will of the people instead of their "owners" who bought and paid for them...but that's another topic. :)

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Mark Vergeer
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Sinewave thinking....

Sorry to say this but this exactly is sinewave thinking. Slow the government down is that a good thing? Think not as many urgent matters do need decisions and laws made for them. We don't want politicians arguing about trivial things but we want decisions and implementation of those decisions.

Politics should be accessible for all. In the US it is only possible to be politically active and get somewhere if you join the crazy spending spree. what if that money was spent in disaster areas helping people get back on their feet instead of slandering opposing politicians and by doing this even straying away from what you stand for. Politics have in some countries almost become a commercial activity.

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TripHamer
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Sure, but only to a point.......

Sure, but only to a point.......We had two years of government with very little restraint....now we'll slow it down for awhile and hopefully get only the most important things done. At least I would like to think so.

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Bill Loguidice
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I do not have the understanding to explore this much further
TripHamer wrote:

I'd rather have next to nothing get done then for them to keep doing what they've been doing for the last 20 years....I'm sure there's some good that has happen but, IMHO, not all that much and we would be better off if much of it didn't happen.....not all....just most.

I've heard that argument before that a government that does nothing is better than a government that does something. My political naivete is no doubt showing, but I'd like to believe that NOT to be the case, i.e., it's far better for the government to act in a way that it believes is right (with the huge caveat naturally that it's the will or for the benefit of the majority of the people and within the bounds of the legal system and due process) and actually accomplish things that need accomplishing than for a government to simply not do anything and "do no further harm".

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TripHamer
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Yeah, that true.

I'd rather have next to nothing get done then for them to keep doing what they've been doing for the last 20 years....I'm sure there's some good that has happen but, IMHO, not all that much and we would be better off if much of it didn't happen.....not all....just most.

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Bill Loguidice
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Reality
TripHamer wrote:

Our government is designed to work slowly....so now that one party is not solely in power, they'll have to work together to get anything passed.

That's a good thing....unless they all conspire to screw us over, of course.

That is the ideal, but unfortunately that's not how it works, especially today. With both parties having equal checks and balances in this particular case, that means nothing will get done because they will not do what's right, they'll only do what's in the best interest of their party, and that's "screw the other guy". So if Obama has a good policy, it will be blocked because they don't want him to succeed, even if they personally believe it's a good policy. Same goes in the reverse.

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Matt Barton
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Good comments, Mark. I

Good comments, Mark. I watched an episode of "Yes, Minister" recently and was struck by the stark differences in the U.K. versus the U.S. government. I'm not sure which one I'd like better, but apparently graft, inefficient bureaucracy, and corruption are quite common across the board.

The two-party system wouldn't bother me if I felt their members were independent and not willing to blindly follow their corporate agenda. Unfortunately, despite all the ridiculous "maverick" rhetoric, all I see are people towing the party line, and I (like most people, and Rob pointed out) don't like either party's lines. What I find particularly bothersome is how easily they're able to use attack ads to whip up the uninformed, usually focusing them so intently on an issue like gay rights and abortion, distracting them from the real issues (namely, how BOTH parties are screwing the American people in countless ways). What has really made me want to head to the hills was the recent Supreme Court decision that basically opens the floodgates and removes all barriers to corporate spending during elections. Our Republican congressional candidate, incumbent Michelle Bachman, spent $11 million on attack ads, all the while running a platform on "cutting the out of control spending." HELLO??? Of course, all these attack ads are designed to get illiterate and uninformed people out in droves to "vote with their gut," or whatever it is they vote with, because it clearly isn't their brains.

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