I contributed a fair amount of money this last election cycle, in a few cases to elect someone I thought would be good, in most cases to defeat someone I thought would be a disaster. Oh, well, c’est la guerre, I suppose. The vast majority of the people I thought would be a disaster I didn’t even know; it was the keep the Other Side from ascendancy.
Politically, I’m liberal, ish. But I have some experience with countries that have gone to extremes both left and right, and I’ve come to believe the real culprit is ideology itself, irrespective of which particular flavor. Being pragmatic doesn’t mean, however, that there can’t be certain guidelines, and, for me, that mostly ends up siding with the party slightly left of right of center, the Democrats. They used to be lined up against the party slightly right of right of center, the Republicans; they still are, but the Republicans lately made a strategic decision to appear as insane as possible, probably on the inexcusably cynical notion that most Americans would find that attractive. It worked, for awhile. I’ll leave it to you to figure out why this coincided with the tenure of our first African-American president, whom the Republicans quite clearly and explicitly vowed to expel from the government. This personal vendetta was their highest priority in the most complex global environment in recent history, and it was this complete lack of perspective that drove me to contributional excesses.
Well, now it seems the Dems have decided to flatter the dickens out of the Republicans, if imitation be the sincerest form thereof.
It is, of course, understandable, if indefensible, that when you contribute money to an enterprise, the most immediate response is for them to deluge you with requests for even more money. If you respond to that positively, they crank it up a notch or two. At a certain point, the requests become more like demands, and the demands contain threats of dire consequences to the nation, indeed, to humanity itself, of you not personally forking over yet more. I understand all of this. It is deplorable, but the nature of the beast.
Here’s what I don’t like, and what is turning me completely off: More and more, the stated primary goal of some campaign or another is simply to embarrass the opposition.
“If we get this amount of money, or if this bill passes/doesn’t pass, Boehner will be furious!” Or the Tea Party will be livid. Or some other such nonsense.
What? Since when is that of any importance? What happened to the consequences of the bill in question as an issue? It’s as if they’re saying that once your financial contributions reach some critical point, they can drop the pretense of any substance, and go after the real target, the Other Guy.
This is precisely the kind of BS from the Other Guy that prompted my concerns in the first place. Now it seems that even ideology is irrelevant, except to the extent it can be used to pry more money from a gullible electorate.
The UK political map is different, so it might not be exactly applicable to the USA, however, many of the politicians I have encountered want more than just to attack the other parties. They seem able to talk about issues in depth, but claim that the media do not want to report nuanced debate so the appearance of a food fight is maintained. I suspect the media would say they report in sound-bites because the audience does not want long intricate debate.
I am not certain what the best solution would be. At my most cynical I wonder if a draconian requirement that each voter vote not with an X but with two paragraphs on the impact of their votees policies is the only way to focus public debate on why the law matters; administration would be horrific and more open to bias than currently though.
Ha! The US media are certainly no better that their UK brethren in that regard. The problem is that I’m getting this attitude from the party fund raiser themselves. Can it be that there is precious little substance to report?
No, I take it back. It is doubtless just the consumerization of fund raising. The fund raising professionals use the same data as the media to determine what will appeal to – not people – data set? 😉
Part of the issue might be that the fund-raisers themselves are, certainly in the UK, often a separate company employed to raise money and not members of the organisation they are representing. So they do not necessarily share the values of the party.
I agree the real culprit is ideology itself. I lends itself to irrationality and extremes even if it starts in the middle. Somehow there seems to be an addictive, “heady” quality to it for a lot of people.