Jan 9, 2008

The Citizens can be the Winds of Change but Our Next Captain Should Also Have a Good Sense of Direction!

Hopefully in this election, we're changing direction too not just the driver.

Everyone talks about change, but aren't the two winners in New Hampshire part of the establishment? Especially if you see the teams Clinton and McCain have assembled. Anyway, usually I don't really pay much attention to those who say they're for change. Even the conservatives are for change these days--even though the prescribe the same poison as Bush. Unless, someone specifically explains not only what he/she wants to change but also how, then I look for other clues in evaluating the candidate. On the other hand, we have seen real change in these first two presidential contests: a black and a woman have won! Never before such persons had won state presidential contests (for a major party in the US).

The polls got it wrong about the Democratic race. Way off. Now everyone is talking about an upset that Hillary delivered. I see it differently. Clinton was ahead in N. Hampshire by double digits for ever. Obama was poised to deliver an upset after his win in Iowa, but couldn't. The difference (39% to 37%) between Clinton and Obama was very small; a different, harsher weather might have flipped the result. The vote count may be attributed to the independents that chose to boost McCain, perhaps thinking Obama had this thing wrapped up.

The race will go one for a while longer, and in more diverse states. With a Bill Richardson [Hispanic roots] dropping out, the Hispanic vote in Nevada (and elsewhere) will be very important. Here's the Democrats' schedule for the next few weeks:

  • Michigan, Jan. 15th
  • Nevada, 19th
  • South Carolina, 26th
  • Florida, 29th
  • 23 States, Feb. 5th
This site has all the state-by-state count, dates, poll numbers, etc. Great resource.

There's a fight going on, with the Dem. National Comm. (DNC) penalizing Michigan and Florida for holding their primaries so early against the wishes of the DNC, but they are important states in the general election, so the DNC may give in and seat their delegates at the national convention in Denver. Clinton (and anyone with a budget and name recognition) favored a short primary season--the earlier the better. But, I hope this system is re-evaluated, including the order of the states in the process.

I'd prefer a system that gives a chance to candidates who are lesser known, and without big bank accounts. A group of 5-7 small states, on a rotating basis, to start the presidential race for the nomination. Then we should move on to another group of bigger states, and so forth. This way, small and big states could be important players in the process.

Opening up the system with greater access to voting is necessary. Such measures would include, same-day voter registration, absentee balloting (hence, eliminating the caucus!), and, of course, reliable methods of balloting! Those who don't know it, the airwaves belong to the public. Part of the licensing requirements is that media should serve the public interest! Wow, that's a good idea, isn't it? In a democracy, elections are important, just as the need of the public to be informed. Therefore, I'm suggesting a legal obligation of that media to provide free airtime to all candidates who meet some minimum qualifications.

NOW (on PBS) just aired an interesting segment on Dirty Politics. As the South Carolina primary is approaching, watch what happened there a few years ago [when Bush destroyed McCain using dirty tricks].

I clearly dislike dishonest politics, and I do want to see smarter politics, not appeals to the lowest common denominator, use of fear, or campaigns that rely on pushing the emotional buttons. Since I'm not running for public office, I can say that it comes down to the individual citizen to have the interest in the affairs of our country and invest the appropriate time before making his decision at the ballot box. Further, people don't like negative ads, but they exist because they're effective. Let's be honest here, why should it matter if McCain had an Asian child out of wedlock, or Hillary was a lesbian, or Obama Hussein was not a Xtian? [watch NOW's video, link above, on these claims]

To me, it's more relevant to ask a candidate whether he accepts the scientific method, and whether he accepts the theory of evolution or does he prefers something else? Does he confuse the meaning of scientific theory with any view, or a guess, or a feeling? And, whether this candidate will promote creationism, alchemy, astrology, and phrenology...

On the other hand, the public has to have access to information, and the system should provide the framework & the safeguards for free and accurate information. Smarter people produce smarter politics. We should take ownership of our government, should we not?

The quality of government says a great deal about the citizens and the conditions that exist in a particular country. Does it not? Several countries (i.e., in Scandinavia) have managed to have rather efficient government, no serious corruption problems, with strong social safety net, while maintaining a very free & democratic system!

In the US, the Republicans see the government as the problem and the enemy that needs to be "drowned in a bathtub." What kind of a government such a party can run? More often than not, the GOP has no well-laid plans to make the government work for the people. "Cut taxes, cut services, shrink the government," they tell us. No ones likes taxes, but, then, who needs the services government can & should provide?!! Under Bush and the neocons, we've gotten the worst of conservative medicine: they've cut the taxes (guess who's benefited?), cut services, but made the government bigger than ever before! Oh, and they did it while accumulating the biggest debt ever!

Boy, it is time for some radical change around here!

Comics by Ziggy