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Author Topic: Cheapening Political Dialogue
Crazy Eddie
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Having just started college, and being of a primarily Republican persuasion (my political views follow a Gaussian curve, most conservative, some more liberal, some more libertarian), I decided to check out the College Republicans meeting on campus.

After the usual preliminaries (pass around 15 signup sheets for various campaigns and activities), there was the typical encouragement to join, and all were given a free T-shirt (the t-shirt shop goofed a batch by misspelling "Republican," so why not?) What got me was the message on the back of the shirts: Under the picture of an elephant booting a donkey, there was the caption "Republicans kick ass in [State Omitted]."

While I am definitely conservative (with reference to note above) and have no grave argument with the meaning of the slogan, the method of delivering a pro-Republican message struck me as overly childish. I think I may end my involvement with that organization - not entirely based on the shirt, but just because I enjoy debate, not shouting slogans at the other side. (That's why I signed up here!) (And before anyone tries any cheap shots of that nature, I am certain that a College Democrats club somewhere has a shirt saying "Republicans are old, fat, and gray" under the picture of an elephant. Or they will after they read this.)

To save anyone the trouble - I know I am probably overreacting. But doesn't it seem like we spend more and more time shouting at each other rather than debating the facts and principles of a situation? (Ornery and Hatrack forums excepted, usually.) I'm looking for good ideas on how to fight this (yes, foolish college idealism at work). The easiest way would be to forbid references to one's opponent in campaign commercials - but there's this pesky thing called the First Amendment...

Actually, my only real idea came from this same meeting, where they noted that about 30% of voters in my state do not vote for Judge positions on the ballot because parties are not listed beside the candidate's names. A crazy idea: What if we applied the same technique to all candidates on the ballot, and didn't list anyone's party affiliation? If nothing else, it would assure that the "Punch a straight ticket without thinking" crowd on both sides was reduced to a random factor that benefited both sides more or less equally. (Yes, if you wanted to get picky, it would also make sense to make multiple versions of the ballots with different candidates on top of the listing for each office.) The goal would be to get people to actually think about the candidates they were voting for - and if they don't know what they are voting for, reduce them to a random factor or discourage them from voting.

Is this a terribly unpopulist sentiment? Sort of. The premise of a democracy is an informed electorate who can make good choices to benefit the nation - this sounds horribly cruel, but if people are utterly clueless, perhaps we should remove crutches enabling them to influence the electoral process without thinking. (Of course, you would be allowed to bring items into the polling place, so the local parties would almost certainly distribute a checklist - but you would at least have to care enough to bring it with you!)

Just another random suggestion that will never be implemented by anyone.

Regards,
Crazy Eddie

"When possibilities close, Crazy Eddie doesn't see." - Larry Niven

[Edited to fix a UBB coding error.]

[This message has been edited by Crazy Eddie (edited September 19, 2002).]


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Tom Grey - Tigger
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Here in Slovakia, the former communists formed a party called the Social Democratic Left (only in Slovak), in 1992. Recently they split, and the new party is SD Alternative. At a rock concert their new youth sponsored, they had interesting "peace" T-shirts (all 18 yr old men get drafted for about a year):
"**** the military" (in English).
Picture a turtle humping a military helmet.

It's so raw, it's amusing. Backfired as a tactic, according to the polls.


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Brian
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The governor's race in PA is heating up nicely. One of the kinks this year is that the unions are staying ot of the race. Why?

Because the Dem. candidate, Rendell, was the mayor responsible for finally balancing Philadelphia's budget, which apparently he did by trimming large chunks off the union contracts. (I have no idea if this was justified or not, so don't start a debate about it.)

So, the unions are pissed at Rendell, but they just can't bring themselves to support a Rep. candidate, so for the first time in a looong time, they will not be using their huge coffers to influence the election.

[This message has been edited by Brian (edited September 19, 2002).]


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andrewski
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Crazy Eddie,
Just started college, makes you 18,19,20? You view the shenanigans on campus as childish? That's what they are, by definition. That you do view them as such is to your credit. Abstain from joining organizations that are childish, move into the real worldpolitik.
Don't be disillusioned by the antics on campus, I worked quite diligently many years ago to gain the right of franchise for citizens who've reached their 18th birthday. Don't waste my activism, enjoy the discourse that exists only in a free society, exercise your franchise, make informed decisions, seek to influence those who hold differing views, listen respectfully to others who seek to influence you.
One sidebar, Democracy is by definition, mob rule. A democratic Republic such as these United States, requires an educated, informed electorate.

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Crazy Eddie
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andrewski:

Don't worry that I will withdraw from the political arena - I've already been at work sowing dissident (At a college campus, I think being conservative is fairly dissident) political thought in the campus newspaper. I have no doubt that there are many young adults out there who are reasoned, intelligent, politically inclined, etc. It simply disturbs (annoys? irritates? I don't know the best term) me that those organizations most dedicated to politics on campus appear to possess few of them.

Granted, this is only a first impression, but what I see is a group working at the level of the lowest common intellectual denominator. This strikes me as a larger issue with political parties: Political parties will probably not attract large memberships through elevated philisophical debates, but rather, by lowering their messages to the lowest possible denominator. (It's the economy, stupid!) At least, this appears to be the strategy that has worked in the past. Have you ever noticed how many candidates don't mention issues in their campaigns, relying on name recognition, ad hominem attacks on the opponent, and a party affiliation instead?

In many cases, it appears that political parties have become something of a litmus test: Either the candidate is a Democrat or the candidate is a Republican, and that is all there is. No further issues are considered beyond that point, despite the obvious fact that not all Democrats and not all Republicans are in line with each other. (For example, if I am not mistaken, OSC considers himself a Democrat.)

This was the origin of my thoughts on the ballots: Can we remove the crutches supporting political involvement in the absence of serious thought on the issues? As you stated, a Republic requires an informed electorate. The thought that (referring to my earlier post) 30% of voters don't vote for judges in my state because there isn't a little "R" or "D" by their names frightens me immensely. Are nearly a third of the votes being cast by people who only think about parties, rather than issues?

In short, my question was not "Are these organizations childish, and did I do the right thing by quitting?" but "These organizations are unbelievably childish. What can we do to fix this?"

Regards,
Crazy Eddie

P.S. Thanks in advance for your activism on lowering the voting age. Trust me, I have been looking forward to this election for a looong time.


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andrewski
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Crazy Eddie,
Universal Franchise,One Person One Vote, is inherently dangerous to the health of our republic. A great read "Democracy in America" by Alexis de Tocqueville, identifies these weakness in the American body politic. Unfortunately, attempts to ensure an informed electorate, have universally been struck down by the SCOTUS. Most due to incipient racism, or the belief that racism was, and continues to be, the chief factor in the formulation of such attempts. As de Tocqueville states, paraphrase, The U.S. will come to an end when the electorate learns that it can vote itself the contents of the treasury. We have all but reached that point, "What Can You Give Me" is the refrain heard most often by candidates for office. The liberal wings of both parties campaign on "How Much We Gave You, Last Time Around"
The day when "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country" was the clarion call of a Democrat President's inauguration, to a Democrat Candidate for President's speech stated " We've become not a melting pot, but a beautiful mosaic. Different people, Different yearnings, Different dreams." was less than 20 years. One places duty to country, and community ahead of self. The other celebrates a loss community, the lack of duty to country.
Back to basics, is what will improve the political picture. Civics classes heavy on the Responsibility of citizenship and less on the ephemera, Parents instilling a sense of right and wrong in their children, representatives who legislate for the good of the country instead of their district or state.

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TomDavidson
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Hey, redskull! Are you still around?

I think we might have another fascist who doesn't realize he's a fascist.



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rogerroger
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Ad Homs Tom, and you would be, The free thinking enlightened liberal beacon to the benighted? Why oh why do you think you or your left thinking friends are the guardians of freedom? Why label someone you don't know? Why attack? What happen to diplomacy and enlightened discourse? Name one left/liberal policy or initiative that was/is ongoing and successful? And please tell me how much you have contributed to the financial support of that program? Or what percentage your contribution is in comparison to say, Andrewski's?
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Everard
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Hrm.

What the **** was the point of that post? Redskull, for those who don't take the time to read anything and just make assumptions, is the resident fascist. Some months ago, he pointed out that one of the members of this forum was, in fact, advocating fascism, without knowing it. Tom's point was that andrew is, judging by the political theory espoused in that last post, a fascist. Since REdskull is the most capable of point out why this is true, of any of the members of these forums, Tom's statement takes on an entirely different context, doesn't it?

Incidentally, I'm betting Tom won't take the time to fully chastize you for the behavior exhibited in that post, but with my working knowledge of the man, I can guess he contributes in many fashions to many different causes, most liberal, some not.


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seagull
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For those new members not familiar with the "old guard" at Ornery. Everard is the "resident communist" (lowercase c). It may surprise you but at this forum that is NOT an insult (and niether was the accusation of being fascist). I think he is Ev is proud of that designation but I would be gladly corrected if I am wrong about it.

I've had my arguments with Tom, but, living up to my own reputation of throwing people's words back at them:
Rogerroger:

quote:
Why label someone you don't know? Why attack?

[This message has been edited by seagull (edited September 23, 2002).]


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Tom Grey - Tigger
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I remember my first presidential election; I was at Annapolis and didn't think that Ford should have pardoned Nixon. I also didn't like how so many pictures of him were bending over with a football between his legs as he did when a college center -- just didn't look presidential. Plus he fell/stumbled too often.
Jimmy Carter. Only president I ever voted for, or am likely to (now Libertarian). Most honest man; worst president.
Best ex-president.
Also graduated from Annapolis.

The corruption at the heart of democracy is gov't benefits -- paid for with Other People's Money. Almost all voters are (mildly) against lots of things gov't does, but strongly favor a few.


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Baldar
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Mine was Reagan and the realization that the upper tax bracket (which I in my youth was striving for) would be reduced from 72% to 32%. He won the cold war, he was a great man. Best president in history? Washington, second by Lincoln.

Worst President, either Millard Filmore or Ulysses Grant.


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