A time for reasoned debate

I am a political junkie.  I am.  I love it.  I know people who would rather tear their own nails out than watch a political debate, but I simply enjoy them.  I have a bachelor’s degree in Political Science.  That means I have read, and read, and read some more about the subject.  It was always fun to me.  I have a Master’s degree in Spanish, in literature.  You can guess what books I gravitated to…politics, history, sociology, current events. 

Most of the people who read this know me, so none of this comes as a surprise to them.  But I live in small town where I have only lived for two years, so I am still making friends, getting to know folks.  If this is the first time you read The Country Rican, I am a lefty, a registered democrat, a yellow dog, a liberal, a bleeding heart, a left wing nut job (as Michael used to refer to me when we first started dating).  I think that one is my favorite: left wing nut job. I wear the label with pride. As I told my now mother in law when the subject first came up: “You can pick an issue, any issue, and I am probably on the left of it.”

I voted for Hillary Clinton in the democratic primary in 2008.  I LOVE her.  I think she is the picture of what a leader should be: smart, articulate, strong.  I thought then, and I still think now that she would have made a better president than Barrack Obama. I also think she is doing an outstanding job as secretary of state.  I say all of this to let people know that I am not one of those people who drank the Obama Kool Aid as they say.  I mean, I like him, always have.  But I thought he was a little green to be president.  I prefer my leaders to be a little more experienced.  However, majority rule and all that.  I voted for Obama in the general because there is no way I could bring myself to vote for John McCain.  That is, the John McCain of 2008.  I was a fan of the one who lost to George W. Bush in the 2000 primary.  Another case of a party picking the lesser candidate, in my opinion.  I couldn’t figure out then why the GOP would pick W over an honest to God war hero with principles.  It turns out it was the start of “We rather have the shinier candidate” phase of politics, as well as the beginning of the end of McCain’s soul.  When he only had one principle left – against torture – he was the party’s nominee and then he picks Sarah Palin to run with him.  He plucked her out of obscurity and we are stuck with her now.  I will never forgive him for that.

But I digress.  As of today, and we are almost a year away from the elections, I plan on voting for Obama again.  He will again be the lesser of two evils, and frankly I think he gets a bad wrap.  I think he has certainly disappointed most of us.  I think if you believed he was going to save us all and that he was better than any other politician, then you are really, really disappointed.  Years ago my big brother told me that anyone who made it to be President had to be a little bit evil, and very powerful to make it up there.  Since then, I have always looked at them with the eye of a skeptic.  He was not my first choice, so I am not that crushed with his performance.  He has performed as I would have expected him to.  He had no executive experience, and it has shown.  He has been more of a legislator, a mistake, but it’s what he knew.  He talks too much like a professor they say. Gee, maybe it’s because that is what he was.  I just see nothing shocking here.  The biggest mistake the Republicans have made is to become the party of no.  They have obstructed everything he tries to do. They have given him a bad guy to blame.  Be prepared for the campaign of “If they had let me do something, I would have done it.”  Much like the US did with Cuba – and is still doing today – with the intention of stopping something all they accomplish is to give them someone to point to as the culpable party.  The Castros will always have the US boogie man to blame for their failures, and no one can positively say they are not right.  The what if scenario will always be there, and therefore it is always speculation.  We are on our way to doing it to Iran too, by the way.  It is a strategy that does not work. 

What bothers me is that the republicans just stop anything from being done, and don’t get anything done themselves.  If they truly believe the plans the democrats are proposing won’t work, let them do it, then say I told you so.  Obstructing the plan just gives Obama the power to say “it’s your fault” and when you argue you KNOW it won’t work, you are speculating.  Sigh. Everyone should be upset that we pay these people and they can't even vote on the bills.

The republican field for president has been a freak show.  They are doing a disservice to themselves with all of these debates.  The more they debate, the weaker the field seems.  It is truly sad.  I mean, don’t get me wrong, as a political junkie from the left I enjoy the freak show.  As an intelligent observer of politics though, it makes me sad.  I want an intelligent debate.  Anyone watch “The West Wing”?  In their final season they had the best political debate you will ever see between Jimmy Smits and Alan Alda.  It was amazing because it was fiction, choreographed and scripted.  But I wish we had two strong candidates arguing the issues on their merits.  I crave it!

If anyone wants to debate the issues I always welcome a good debate.  But don’t come at me with “Obama’s socialist policies are hurting the country” like Perry says.  Some of us have studied socialism.  I mean, really studied through the writings and let me tell you there is nothing socialist about this President.  Don’t tell me the President is anti-American, as I see on facebook all the time.  Come on!  Come at me with an intelligent argument.  I see them from time to time.  About how a health care mandate is unconstitutional.  That is a fair point.  Or how the use of predator drones bothers you.  Or what are we doing in Afghanistan.  There is plenty to discuss, intelligently, without falling to the mindless points you hear on talk radio.

I am also sick of all the demonizing.  I understand that in some cases people are diametrically opposed to one another, but does it have to get so personal?  I can say a lot of things about the people running for president.  In fact, I toyed with the idea of one by one listing their shortcomings.  But really, I don’t feel like I need to do that, for they are doing it for themselves.  What I will say is on two of the candidates, and it is on their media coverage which I find fascinating.

The first is Jon Huntsman, who is always mentioned as a moderate republican.  There is nothing moderate about this man.  He is very conservative, but he is covered as a moderate because he was ambassador to China under Obama.  Really?  Did he get Obama socialist juice on him, and now he is moderate?   The only thing moderate about him is his personality.  He is calm, collected, and kind of soft spoken.  I guess in this republican field that is enough to be moderate.  His position on abortion (to pick one issue) is that life begins at conception, and there should be exceptions made for the life of the mother and other extreme cases.  Settle down Mr. Huntsman!  You might be considered a democrat in four more years…

The other is Ron Paul, who as Jon Stewart so brilliantly put it, has become the 13th floor in a hotel.  It is like he doesn’t exist.  He is a top tier candidate by the definition of what a top tier should be, top 4 in a field of 7.  Michelle Bachmann won the Iowa straw poll and was the front runner.  He was a close second.  Right now for the Iowa  caucuses he is running a strong second to Herman Cain, but is still dismissed.  People who support him are ten times more passionate than anyone supporting Romney or any of the other candidates, yet he is constantly viewed as unelectable.  One of our colleagues at work is a conspiracy theory guy and he says it is because Paul wants to return to the Gold standard.  The Fed is too powerful and both the left and the right shun Paul for this reason.  I don’t buy into this, but it does make me pause.  I wouldn't vote for the guy because , again, I’m a left wing nut.  But I do respect anyone who can articulate his position clearly, especially when you are consistent about it.  And I admire anyone who has the balls Ron Paul has.  I mean, to say to a room full of republicans that you don’t care if Iran gets the bomb?! Amazing!  I hope he gets far, even if he has a “Lord of the Rings” kind of appearance.

My husband Michael is a libertarian and a registered Republican.  We have discussed this issue of demonizing your opponents many times.  We have reached the conclusion that only small people need to make their opponent smaller in order to make themselves feel big.  We also notice that it is harder to demonize someone once you know them. The problem is that people in this country, in particular in my county, tend to insulate themselves from the world.  They surround themselves with people who look and think like them.  Everyone goes to church – protestant, of course.  Everyone goes to the football games.  Everyone knows each other.  Everyone watches Fox news.  So they are constantly reinforcing their world view, and forget there are other world views out there.  People need to break out of their comfort zone more, meet someone with a different point of view, read a book they recommend, etc. 

Michael says:” The person you will be five years from now depends on the people you meet and the books you read.”  Brilliant.  He says he copied it from somewhere, but he can’t remember who.  Well my husband is the kind of man that goes out of his way to meet interesting people, read interesting books, and remember quotes like this.  The speech writer in “The West Wing” once said good writers borrow from others, great writers steal outright.  I’m stealing it outright…


  1. Very well written and I completely agree with you all your points. I especially like the final paragraph about breaking out of your comfort zone. I think this would help people with an open mind (or the capacity to try and understand) but it may still be hard to engage those who have already made up their mind.

  2. You are right on the money lady. I wish I could put into words the frustration I feel over our elected officials failing miserably at compromise. Epic failure to serve their constituents.
    I truly believe that if Obama had presented his current jobs bill instead of the initial bail outs we would be in at the beginning of an economic recovery. Unfortunatley, he did not and nobody is willing to come to an agreement about how to move forward now.


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