ericcheung: (Default)

I actually like the nominating process the Democratic Party has for the most part.  I think that what it does is help the newcomer, the outsider, to come in and build support through the series of primaries by making the delegate selection process proportional and by making the primary season span months.

The problem is that the superdelegates were put in place about thirty years ago to stifle that a bit.  To make sure the party put in place a nominee that would parrot the party-line, or to put it in a nicer way, elect a nominee that was "up-to-date on the party's platform."  Being somone that's never been a fan of party-line politics, I can't really get behind that because even if you fit a checklist, it slows the evolution of the party--and that's assuming you endorse the idea of having a political party in the first place.  It seems illogical to shoehorn a set standard of opinions on a series of issues into such a diverse array of thinkers.  But then I'm not much of a joiner.  So yeah, more proportional delegates, less supertional delegates.

I've been thinking about this Michigan/Florida thing and the biggest issue seems to be funding new contests.  The DNC doesn't want to do it because the states broke the rules and it would divert money from the general election campaign.  The states don't want to do it because the states are still protesting the roles of the early states in the nominating process and they don't want to pay twice for the process.

I'm definitely siding more with the DNC on this one, but perhaps a compromise could be to split the bill for the contests and have the DNC raise extra funds for the general election through Obama-style grassroots/Web 2.0-type efforts.  It would be a demonstration of two of Obama's hallmark principles of leadership: compromise, and empowering the American people to take ownership of the campaign, even if it meant he didn't end up becoming the nominee.

In the meantime, a strategy towards free publicity and news-generating efforts could be moved to a more front-burner strategy.

I don't know.  I'm talking out of my ass as I just sort of came up with it now, but what do you think?

I do believe Barack Obama is by far the best candidate to lead this country, but it's more a comment on his leadership style than specific stances on the issues.  He's been criticized for not being specific enough, but where others see lack of specificity, I see flexibility.  The president isn't exactly a legistlator, he or she is a leader of legistlators brought in to shephard other people's ideas, even if he or she coaxes those ideas along with ideas of his or her own.  The president's role is largely to moderate.  It's one of the reasons we've only elected two senators to the office so far.

That said, a presidential nominee's campaign speeches and debate performances on the issues should be taken seriously.  But not for reasons most might think.  I believe they're not so much campaign promises as they are clues into the mind of the potential leader.  Where is his or her priorities?  Do they share your priorities; do they think national security is more important than civil liberties or vice-versa; do they favor domestic concerns or our image abroad?  What style of leadership would this president use?  Does this person have specific ideas on what might work, yet remain flexible to other people's input?

To answer that last question, one could look at the candidate's records in reaching out to other people, not just to the other side of the aisle, but not recognizing that it's as concrete as a line in the middle of a room.  The world's voices more likely represent a Venn Diagram, but instead of two sides that share some things in common, it's many more than that.  I guess that would make it a flower, with petals of difference and a center bud of common concerns, but I'm not a hippy.

In fact, I suppose I'm more of a Left-leaning Centrist.  My move to the, relative Left, is largely a reaction to the Bush Administration, but it had roots in my elementary school education.  In the early 90s environmentalism was really big as was the so-called political correctness movement.  I also entertained ideas on the right largely because I grew up in a state that was firmly Democratic and I have a tendency to play the Devil's Advocate.  As college wore on I gradually stopped entering into debates because I failed to realize how much emotion people invest in their point of view.  Though I was interested in learning from weighing pros and cons I wasn't sensitive enough to the passion of my fellow students.  I also couldn't communicate that my point of view was fluid, that I was defending the opposing point of view less because I believed it was some "One True Way," but because that view didn't seem to be defended in the conversation.  As I've grown older, I like to think my stance has evolved into something a little more pragmatic, incorporating the shades of grey that the real world exposes into the zeal I had for idealist change-the-world populism.

So, I think we need to take that flower metaphor and apply it more directly to American politics.  The two-party system denies that those other petals, or even those other shades exist--"pastel petals" if you like especially fey alliteration.  It suggests that you be on one side or the other.  It encourages a dangerous dichotimization of the issues into good versus evil (exploited by the media which prizes ratings, celebrity, and access in that order over serving as another check and balance to the government's indiscretions).  I think until there is a multi-party system, if ever, we should strive for the next best thing: working to have as much checks and balances as possible in government and holding the people that we vote for at least as accountable as those we vote against.  Just as a politician should work for all his or her citizens, so too should a citizen remain critical consumers of the government they've got, whether they agree with them or not.  We should make things that are in the President's power difficult when they're functions that need consensus building.  For example, if we have a Congress of one party and an Executive Branch of another, hopefully it can bring balance and reason to the Judicial Branch.

Barack Obama's goal of changing how government works, increasing transparency and honesty, and empowering citizens to affect change in the world and their own lives are ambitious goals (ask not what you can do for partisan bickering, ask what you can do to make it less pervasive), and if he becomes president I intend to hold him up to those promises much more than what he says about a corrollary of a bill he proposes.  Of course I'll hold him to maintaining the spirit and goals of each law that goes through, but sometimes there are things that are open to debate and negotiation.

In watching how this nomination process has unfolded I've had to check myself to make sure I don't demonize Hillary Clinton.  I don't want a Democrat in the White House, I want a good leader in there.  That said, I think it's important not to demonize someone because of what party they belong to either.  I think that's one thing that seems prevelant in people that identify most strongly with one side of the Left/Right spectrum.  It turned me off of the Left almost more because it seemed to be a type of prejudice from people who claim to prize diversity.  The Right is just as guilty, of course, as are people who don't fit onto that rigid 1D map.  I know I am more than I'd like to admit.  We all have preconceived ideas of the world, and each other, but if we know what ours are, then we don't have to be a slave to those thoughts.

Maybe my attempts at thoughtful discourse are just the opposite, a naive, facile, meditation on the world.  But then maybe I'm just trying to see what others think by tossing my musings off into the blogosphere.  Yeah, that's it.

September 2012

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