Is it Election Day yet? Pretty please? Don’t know if I can handle two more months of this b.s.
And b.s. it is, on both sides. Every day we are inundated by silly shit that just does not matter. One of my conservative FB friends posted this:
Times have changed, no doubt, but for better or for worse, daytime talk shows are one of the best ways to reach the masses. And after all, when you’re President, the masses are your constituency and you take every chance you get to talk directly to them. You know who else figured that out?
It feels like my desire to be an engaged citizen and a well-informed voter means I just have to sift through garbage all day to find out what’s really going on. So Mitt Romney said something dumb about airplane windows, who cares? Everyone misspeaks, and as much fun as liberals had making fun of Bush’s made-up words, I think we can all agree that that was not his greatest flaw as President.
This airplane thing, or making fun of Romney’s tan, or Obama going on The View, that’s all beside the point. The point, as I see it, is this:
In two months, we’re going to elect a President whose job it is to represent the United States on the world stage. The person we elect should be the one who most shares our values about what makes America special, about what we need to do differently, about what are the best paths to progress, and where that path should lead. I like a fine orator, too, but that’s not what this is about.
To my view, here’s how it boils down, though feel free to jump in on the comments if you see it differently:
Fundamentally, Democrats believe that there is systemic inequality in America’s history that has led to widespread inequality now. The government should not be blind to that history, and should work to assist populations that have been harmed in the past as well as create a level playing field moving forward. Social ills (drug dependency, crime, teen pregnancy, etc) are the results of lack of access to education, health care, etc and should be addressed with holistic approaches to poverty reduction. Democrats believe in autonomy of person, which means that individuals have the right to find their own happiness as long as it is not at the expense of society. The government should stay out of the private sphere, which means not regulating or incentivizing sexual behavior or family structure. Democrats believe that America is stronger for its immigrant history, and that our future strength is also tied to embracing diversity by facilitating the growth and education of immigrating and struggling populations.
Fundamentally, Republicans believe that America is a country where anyone can succeed if they try hard enough. Systemic inequality is an excuse for laziness and lack of ambition. Republicans believe that those who work can earn enough to feed themselves, clothe themselves, educate themselves, and keep themselves healthy. Social ills are largely the result of individual or community weakness and lack of discipline and should be punished harshly as a deterrent to others, not rewarded with extra social services. Republicans believe that a free market will, in the long run, create the best solutions for all Americans, even if it leaves some behind in the short term. Republicans believe that traditional family structures are good for the health of the country, and that the government does not have a responsibility for indulging individual life choices that deviate from that model. Republicans believe that resources should be directed to American citizens first, before supporting immigrants, and that Christianity is a fundamental feature (if not explicit) of Real America.
Am I oversimplifying? Yes. Am I biased? Yes. Does this do a disservice to some Democrats and some Republicans? Yes. But reading between all the silly b.s. about talk-shows, tanner, airplane windows, this is what I hear from both sides. The Americas they envision are very different places, and this election shouldn’t be about who flubs the fewest interview lines, whose wife is a better mom, who has the most adorable children, but about what you envision for 21st century America.
But, alas, I don’t make the rules.
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