I typically avoid certain topics here on the blog and on my other social outposts like Twitter and Facebook, and right at the top of the list is politics. My belief is that nobody coming to my site or reading my twitter is doing so for my political opinions, and to me it feels like hijacking my own feeds to lecture people if I were to start injecting political opinions into the feed and into your eyeball.
But that said, this presidential election cycle is extraordinary, and I’m finding some political content is leaking through. For that, I apologize and I’ll try not to abuse your permission to access your eyeballs.
This has convinced me it’s time for a post outlining my thoughts on all of this, so I’m going to talk about politics a bit here, and then we’ll move on and get back to the normal topics. I don’t expect to post on politics again any time soon, so if this stuff doesn’t interest you (or my position pisses you off) you can skip this piece and come back later. I won’t mind.
But first, let me point at John Scalzi’s recent comments here and here. All I can say is I wish I’d written this, so integrate it into my writings below, because I’m in almost 100% agreement with him.
My political background
I grew up in Orange County, one of the most conservative republican regions in the country, much less California. Our family lawyer for many years was William Dannemeyer, who was elected to Congress in 1978 and was a member of the House until 1993, and, well, oh my, I’m sorry and even Orange County apologizes for him.
My mom was a staunch Republican, what today we’d call a Reagan Republican. My dad ran the local newspaper until local papers basically died in the 70s, was a hard core liberal Democrat and one of those people who did go to council meetings and school boards and report on them and make the politicians crazy.
It’s safe to say that there was always some wonder at how they stayed together 50+ years, but they did. It’s also safe to say that political discussions in the house were sometimes historic, and part of the reason why my view of political discourse is to sit back and keep quiet and hope I don’t need to play referee and issue time-outs.
But when I registered to vote for the first time, back in the 1970s, I registered Republican, and I was a Republican for many many elections.
And then Dan Quayle Happened
Sometime during his political career, Dan Quayle gave a speech where he said (and I’m paraphrasing a bit) that if you wouldn’t support the policies that the GOP were promoting, then you should leave. The next day, I went down and re-registered Democrat. I’ve been a Democrat since then, and the GOP has done nothing to make me reconsider my party affiliation.
In fact, I would say that within the GOP today there are many groups that would offer up a small body part for a candidate like Dan Quayle as an alternative to the batch that ran for president this cycle.
And in saying that, you might think I’m not enamored by the current state of the Republican Party, and you would be right.
My political views
I will self-define as a moderate that leans towards liberal views. I lean more liberal on social issues, I lean more conservative on fiscal issues. I’ve long supported equal rights on race, gender and religion and the current outbreak of anti-immigrant, white supremacist and anti-woman misogyny depresses me because it’s an indication that for all of our progress, we have a long, long way to go. But I’m also one to not lose track of how far we have come: I did not expect to see marriage equality in my lifetime. Or, for that matter, a black president, and possibly, a female one.
It’s very clear the future of our society is moving in the direction I want it to go, at least in terms of treating people like people and not objects or something less than us. The movement isn’t linear, though, and if you read history you see that the trend isn’t stopped, but sometimes it’s held up or slowed down. A lot of the current fight against marital equality and the misogyny fighting against the emergence of women’s equality can be seen as the increasing desperation of a group that know’s it’s lost the bigger fight and is being backed into a corner. Doesn’t make it less painful for those stuck in the middle, and we have to remember that these changes tend to be generational — to a degree with just have to keep pushing until the old idiots die off and are replaced by newer people who don’t understand why anyone thought that way.
In a nutshell, I’m behind treating people like people, leaving people to do and believe what they want, as long as they aren’t hurting others or preventing them from doing what they want; don’t spend money you don’t have; focus on pulling people forward — strong on education and preventative medicine, for instance; and science-based policy making (for instance, I’d love the TSA to be able to show me charts explaining why they’re a good investment in our safety, rather tahn running around pointing at things and yelling TERRORISTS at random moments)
I can sum it up pretty easily: don’t be a dick, and don’t do things to others that would piss you off if it was done to you.
I don’t understand why this is so hard for so many.
It should be no surprise to learn I’m supporting Clinton in this election. My policy preferences in many ways lean towards some of the things Bernie Sanders was pushing, but Sanders never convinced me that he could do what I consider a key requirement for the office of President: build consensus and lead. In fact, his long delay in endorsing Clinton after it was clear she’d won the nomination really reinforced that view of him in my eye, and that’s even stranger because once he did come on board, his work at the convention for her and the party was exemplary.
There’s been some discussion recently about organizing his followers towards pushing to take the House back for the Democrats and installing him as leader of the house. I think that’s a great strategy for engaging them and getting him into a role where he can prove his leadership ability. I’d be willing to listen and be convinced, but his campaign this cycle didn’t do it for me.
Clinton isn’t a perfect candidate, and in some ways she fades in comparison to Barack Obama, but one thing she has done is convince me she can succeed and thrive at that role as collaborator, consensus builder and leader. She’s the most viable Democratic candidate and so she has my strong support — but at the same time, I also see her as almost a bridge candidate between the older generation politicians and some of the upcoming younger ones that are just starting to hit the national stage like Kamilla Harris and Gavin Newsome. There’s going to be a generational overturn in politics in the next 5-10 years and I’m hoping that as the younger politicians start taking their positions we’ll see some of the current problems of the older hard-line politicians playing scorched earth games with human lives go away. I’m also expecting the Senate to go Democratic, and I’m hoping that this plays out that they take majority in the House as well.
And I think that’s a legitimate possibility, because of Trump. He’s an incompetent blowhard at best, and his ability to co-opt the Republican party into his game of playing at being President is the culmination of all of the idiotic policies that caused me to leave the party in the first place.
The Republican’s biggest problem isn’t whether Trump will lose; I expect if you get their senior operatives into a really quiet place and get them a bit drunk, they will admit they have no shot at the White House and their job is to minimize the damage: and that damage is that the more Trump speaks, the more he’s likely to piss off moderates and undecideds and push them towards the democrats, and once they do that, they’ll be more likely to vote Democrat in the other races as well. Trump might well turn into a major disaster for the GOP across the races.
That’s not saying the Democrats can become complacent, but they need to keep making sure that Trump keeps talking, and if you watched any of the Democratic Convention, you’ll have seen a very strong and organized message of embracing the centrist middle. That’s one reason the hardest core of the Bernie Bros are upset (the other is, frankly, that we’ve brought up a generation with participation trophies and helicopter moms who always fixed things when you didn’t get the grade you wanted, and never seems to have learned that sometimes you don’t win, and you have to make the best of it and move forward. But I digress…)
So the democratic party has to keep pushing, but the goal really isn’t winning the White House for Clinton, but how much more they can take on the coattails of that win.
I’m voting for Clinton. I consider Trump a disaster and Sanders a disappointment. Third parties like the Libertarians? irrelevant sideshows (and besides, they’re showing themselves to be, among other things, anti-vaxxers, and remember what I said about science-based policy making? Disqualified from consideration).
However, don’t expect me to be beating the drum for her or talk about the election much (if at all) beyond this. You aren’t here to be lectured about it, and I’m more interested in putting my time and energy into the causes that are close to my heart, which you should already realize from reading what I write are nature and the wild places and the environment, and increasingly the impact climate change is having on all of that — and on us. Clinton’s policies are now taking these problems seriously, which is a start, but I feel my time and energy is best spent closer to the ground on those issues, which is why I’ve been working to get involved with the organizations I have.
And thus endeth the lecture. I don’t plan on pushing this into your face again, but I felt it needed to be laid out. If you feel the need to stop following my writing over this, that’s your choice, and I’ll respect it. If you feel the need to explain to me why I’m wrong, I’ll listen, as long as you follow the primary rule of public discussion, which is don’t be a dick. And if you can’t do that, then don’t be surprised when I block your butt and move on with life without you…
(and to be honest, if I had one wish, it’d be that the election be next week, so we could be done with all of this and get on with life…)