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Perhaps this is a result of being a campaign manager and dealing with candidates and politicians on a more or less regular basis, and perhaps not, but more and more, I’m finding that it’s not the Presidential candidates themselves that I have a problem with, but their…followers. The ones who are buying on are getting active, which I wholeheartedly approve of, but there’s an obvious disconnect: they’re reading their ideas for America into the candidate rather than listening to what is actually being said, or what’s being done.

Ron Paul supporters are a fine example, as they’re rather easily categorized. There are many prominent liberals who are supporting Paul (Arlo Guthrie, anyone?) in addition to the usual collection of libertarians, probably because of his stance as an anti-war Republican. The rest of the baggage, however, is onerous: the support from white supremicists, such as the guy who runs the Stormfront Website (link not included for obvious reasons); a reactionary, isolationist foreign policy; wholescale elimination of a huge host of governmental services, much more so than Dubya has perpetrated; and so on. His folks are the young coffeeshop hipster crowd who like to talk loudly about having “never signed the social contract” – a clever turn of phrase that they learned in a 200-level government course – while conveniently ignoring the facts that if you sign over your rights to corporations rather than governments, it doesn’t make you more free, and that there’s never been an example of a libertarian government anywhere that actually worked.

John McCain is supposed to be too liberal for the Republican Party, to the point that Limbaugh and Coulter – the GOP’s Lord Haw-Haw and Axis Sally, respectively – are disclaiming any support for him, and Rick Santorum, a culture warrior if there ever was one, is lining up behind Mitt Romney, the guy who presided over gay marriage in Massachusetts. As far as I can tell, “too liberal” to them means you had lunch with Ted Kennedy once and didn’t cause a scene. With the exception of immigration, Mac is about as conservative as they come: the “hundred-years” war, the tax slashing, the pro-life stuff, the cozying up to big biz…it’s all there, so what’s the problem? The only thing I can reckon is that he’s not as prone to actively hate anyone. Sure, he gets feisty and all, but he’s not a card-carrying member of the American Taliban, and he doesn’t actually want to torture anyone. I’m not just talking about the Christian Right, but of this crowd, the real core of neoconservatism. Without hate, they don’t really have an ideology.

And consider Barack Obama. Certainly, a stirring orator. Might even be a good President. Might be terrible. It’s impossible to tell at this point, because, through no fault of his own, the man really doesn’t have much of a record. On the big issues, he isn’t that different from Clinton; on the smaller ones, the word “mixed” comes up a lot (trade, etc.) He’s against the war but doesn’t mind acting belligerent towards Pakistan, he’s ambivalent on the PATRIOT Act, and so forth. Again, though, the point isn’t Obama himself – the point is that he’s being viewed as the Second Coming by many liberals who until recently were lined up behind Clinton, brandishing Rosie the Riveter posters with her face superimposed. Fact is, he, or she, could be in favor of anything – no one among this group pays a great deal of attention to their issues…and they really don’t care that much. They danced in the streets in 2006 when the Dems took over Congress without really paying attention that they did it with Ken Salazar, and Richard Casey, and Joe Lieberman, and their ilk…and actually acted surprised when the war kept going and when Bush and Cheney didn’t get impeached and when the host of other items on the agenda were ignored.

Now they’re behind Obama. They’re all “energized”, “inspired”; they believe in “hope”; they want “change”. It’s an eight-year-old’s view of the world. It relies on having a memory too short to remember that Bill Clinton was from “a place called Hope”, and proceeded to allow our country to continue its rightward slouch and enact so much GOP-championed agenda that the opposition party was silent for almost two years. They swept into power in 2002 by having the Democratic President simply validate everything they wanted to do; there was no reason to vote Democratic for anything.

Parental duty calls. More later.


2 Responses

  1. I don’t know. I think it’s probably a good thing that people are putting their hopes into candidates, even if they do simply see what they want to see. Being cynical (or even just overly realistic) isn’t much fun.

    And I mean that with everyone’s supporters except Ron Paul’s. Those guys really do piss me off.

  2. “there’s never been an example of a libertarian government anywhere that actually worked.”

    I think you can strike libertarian and still have a true statement.

    Some slow the slide into totalitarism longer than others, but pretty much all head that direction on day 2.

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