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Family and Friends is my everyday journal. Captain's Log is where I pontificate on religion and politics.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The system

Belief in the system

After I wrote my last post, which I freely admit is biased by the fact I teach history at the high school level, I read an article in the latest Harper's Magazine by Roger D. Hodge entitled Creative Destruction.
The article is coming out this week, but that means it was probably written end of August or early September right after the conventions and the polls were showing a dead heat between the two major candidates.
Mr. Hodge was terribly upset that the race was this close and blamed it on the Democratic ideology that elections are about the People's will. In essence the major points of my last post. Mr. Hodge's assertion is this:

narrative concerns “democracy.”
According to the classic theory that
appears in our civics textbooks,
modern democracy is a political system
in which the people decide how
they wish to be governed by electing
representatives who carry out their
will. The ultimate source of authority
in the democratic system is thus
the individual voter, whose solemn
and heroic responsibility we celebrate
at every national, state, and
local election. The basic premise of
the classic view is that the people
rule, and so we are told ad nauseam
from the time we enter kindergarten—
and that, we tell one another
at every opportunity, is what
makes America the greatest nation
in the history of the world...

The direct
strategic corollary to this mystical
belief in rule by the people, and the
central flaw in the Mondale,
Dukakis, Gore, Kerry, and Obama
campaigns, is the idea that a party
can win a national election by appealing
primarily to Americans’ reason
and better instincts—to faith,
hope, and love—by presenting sensible
programs, together with respectful
criticisms of the opponent’s
record, detailed critiques of his policy
proposals, and polite refusals to
engage in the politics of personal destruction.

His attitude is that this is a school boys' dream and that the Democrats need to grow up and fact the real world of dirty politics or McCain and the Republicans will win agan.

I too was worried in those dark days of Sarah Palin's basking in media glory. Since the debates and a steady pulling away by Obama in the polls since then I am less concerned, but as Russ says at his blog the only poll that counts is in on election day. (Grinnygranny and I voted today -- so glad that is out of the way)

I am not the total idealist that Mr. Hodge would think all Democrats are. I believe in the system and trust its premise, and this election is supporting my belief. It was hard to swallow that "The People" drank the Kool-aid in 2004, but in 2006 there was a healthy dose of buyer's remorse. Candidates are now packaged and sold to the public like any other commodity. I've heard the story (unsubstanciated, but it sounds good) that Ronald Reagan in 1984 walked into the advertiser's meeting planning his re-election campaign and said, "I heard you were selling a can of peas, though you'd like to see the can."

The only blessing after eight years of Bushco is that he has left such a huge stench on the Republican brand that even the bumbling and inept Democrats should walk a way with a congressional landslide and regain the executive.

The article was written before the economic meltdown, so Mr. Hodge can be forgiven for his doom and gloom. After all there is a sure fire way that Democrats win elections: IT'S THE ECOMONY STUPID!

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