Friday, February 8, 2008

American Politics

Shabbat Shalom Everyone (שבת שלם לקולם)! Hope you all had as good a week as I did. It was mostly uneventful, but our volunteer coordinator made a slight clerical error today. This resulted in a day off for me today! So as a highlight to my week I get a two day weekend...a rarity and pleasure around here.

That's not really what I want to talk about today...I want to discuss my new views on American politics as viewing them from abroad. To the rest of the world our democracy is the epitome of freedom of choice. However, after looking at this year's presidential primaries I highly disagree. The choices with each election seem to get narrower and narrower. Do I chose the pro-life tax cut and spenders or the pro-choice tax cut and spenders. On foreign policy the choices seem more diverse, but I'm fairly sure that they'll eventually narrow as well. I only have one question: Where is conservatism and where is liberalism?

Now its not a secret that I'm a supporter of Barak Obama. Why you ask? I'm a supporter because he seems to be the only one willing to say that his principals are more important than the election. I admire that, it may bite him in the ass later, but that's later and he'll still have his principals and a senate seat from which to continue his fight. Clinton seems to me to be a panderer and power hungry. I don't believe you can be an effective democratic leader if you aren't willing to stand for what you believe in. But that's just my two cents.

The candidates in this election all seem to be running to the middle. It seems logical from an electoral math standpoint. Win the middle swing votes and you can take the presidency. However, the more to the middle they run the more the base of each party seems to be left behind. The more promises I hear, the more promises are broken. Its very disheartening as a young person looking for change in the system. There doesn't seem to be anything but business as usual.

In 1896 William Jennings Bryan made an impassioned speech at the Democratic National convention in Chicago. He had been campaigning to gain the nomination, but had ultimately lost. However, his speech moved the delegates and ultimately he won the nomination.

"Having behind us the producing masses of this nation and the world, supported by the commercial interests, the laboring interests and the toilers everywhere, we will answer their demand for a gold standard by saying to them: You shall not press down upon the brow of labor this crown of thorns, you shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold."

True liberalism embodied in a speech and an even more truly democratic process. The delegates were allowed to vote their hearts and that is what politics is about. What do you believe in your heart is the right course.

Hypothetically if Obama loses the primaries and enters the convention as the loser, what can he do? In the days of old he could have used his amazing oratory skills to swing the convention in his favor. Today his only choice seems to be a short concession speech and tossing his support to the winner. Despite the fact that his delegates probably think Clinton is the wrong choice, they will still be forced to vote for her. How is that democratic?

Where is the Liberalism and where is the Conservatism? Where the democracy that I learned about as a school child. Where are the Lincolns, Bryans, Kennedys, and the Carters? I'm not sure where the political process is headed, but I'm not sure I like it very much. I yearn for the days of impassioned speeches, true debates, and two distinct parties.


John Sklar said...

I do have to agree with you. It looks less grim here. The democrats have a system that has Obama and Clinton neck and neck. The convention might boil down to oratory. It is possible that they will get there with a tie or no apparent winner. That would be great.

The other side will have a winner because McCain will be the only one left.

Its not the same political system of the last century but it seems to be working.

Phyllis Sommer said...

hmm...i'm finding the campaign to be very exciting and inspiring this year.

and...DUDE, Blogs I Like definitely has a link to you.

Want me to make you a sidebar button so people will link directly to you? I can do it...then you can see how much traffic I drive you!:-)