Friday, November 9, 2012

Spiking the football

Today I'd like to post a series of links that have had a significant effect on me after the election. However, first I'd like to point out that before the first debate, Barack Obama had roughly a 2.2% lead over Mitt Romney if you looked at poll averages (my source is my boy Nate Silver at 538). Now that Florida has been tallied, Obama has a roughly 2.0% lead in the popular vote, with Washington still be counted. And I guess my point is, again, that debates just don't matter my friends (particularly a performance in a single debate). Eventually, the mythical "independent" voter comes home to their preferred candidate. Period. People just like to describe themselves as independent because a) it makes them seem wise, and temperate and considered or b) because they want politicians to kiss their asses and promise them things. Sarah Kliff did a series of interviews with "undecided voters" and by God there is no doubt who these people are going to vote for.

I would also like to point off that gaffes don't really matter either (at least primarily in a presidential contest), because let's be honest, I think Romney's 47% video had the greatest potential to be a "game-changer" and it absolutely wasn't. On the other hand, gaffes CLEARLY matter in Senate races, huh? I mean Akin getting slaughtered in Missouri? Mourdock losing Indiana? So, um, yeah, I think we discovered the so-called "third rail" in American politics and it's not Social Security, it's rape apology! Just look at this track record...

And a big "Yay for democracy!" thanks to gay marriage wins in Maine, Maryland and Washington. Additionally, a Constitutional ban to gay marriage in Minnesota was defeated. That 4-0 record in 2012 ends an 0-32 streak at the state level. That's real progress there. Special thanks to Andrew Cuomo by the way. I don't have a good theory why, since New York state wasn't the first state to legalize gay marriage, but New York state legalization seems to have proved a critical turning point in the gay marriage debate. Joe Biden deserves special credit for forcing the President's hand on this issue as well.

The most surprising result, for me personally, was the straight-up legalization of recreational marijuana-use in Colorado and Washington. On a historical basis, this was not too surprising to me. I think the curve of history is bending in that favor. However, straight legalization in 2012? Man, that surprised me. I was in Colorado for the initiative to legalize marijuana in 2006 and it didn't even get close. I think the ramifications of these marijuana votes are, in the words of our Vice President, a big fucking deal. We waste a lot of money and human talent enforcing, prosecuting, and locking up human beings for individual marijuana possession. It's utterly insane. I have no horse in this race, (I'm not pro-marijuana legalization so I can get high), so please believe me when I say the war on recreational marijuana-use is horrible public policy. Just awful really. Awful in financial costs. Awful in human costs. It's good to see the American people slowly but surely come to their senses on this issue.

Finally, as promised, two good links. One is Rachel Maddow explaining why the Republican party needs to come to its senses. Our democracy operates more effectively when we have two sane, sensible, and reasonable parties. Right now, we don't have that. Believe it or not, even I can acknowledge that Republicans have good ideas! They do! I work with Republicans on the local level who have both excellent ideas and who are dedicated to good, effective government (not a lot, but some lol). The best example of excellent public policy that derived from conservative think tanks is the trading of pollution credits. Trading pollution credits was amazingly effective in solving our acid rain crisis in the 70's and 80's. It's free-market friendly, incentivizes long-term environmental stewardship, and minimizes government interference and monitoring costs. That's a win all-around. In fact, it would be the best policy to confront global warming if Republicans, you know, would admit that global warming is real. Republicans are also dead-right when it comes to free-trade. I am a fierce trader. I am also in the Yglesian school of large-scale reductions in regulatory oversight at the local level. For the most part, current regulatory policy is designed to protect entrenched and politically connected businesses, not to encourage competition and enhance consumer experiences and outcomes. There is a lot of room for agreement between Democrats and Republicans there. Simplifying the tax code could be an area of agreement as well.

Anyway, here is the link I mentioned -

Here's the other link. It's a more uplifting link. I think this link is important because it's nice to remember from time to time that Barack Obama is a human being who is remarkably well-intended and takes his job and his role in history seriously. It's also important because its nice to see someone so successful admit that there was a time in his life where he wanted to affect "change," whatever that meant, but he had no idea how to do it, and no idea how to go about it. I find myself even older than he was in that story, and I can relate. I am still casting about, looking for small opportunities to change minds, affect electoral outcomes, and influence policy. Because I honestly and legitimately want to make peoples lives better. I want to make the lives better for people who agree with me and for the people who disagree with me. Honest to God, that's all I want to do. Right now I suck at it, and it drives me mad. It's depressing and despairing, and I frequently find myself casting about for better options, better opportunities, better mentors, better experiences. But Barack Obama sucked at it too. And now, slowly but surely, Barack Obama is changing the arc of history for the better. And maybe one day I can overcome my own personal failings and laziness and do the same.

1 comment:

  1. The thing that gets me most is the transition of Republicans away from being a party with conservative values to a party that simply opposes anything the Democrats support. People with different ideologies can occasionally find points of union and take action, but if you set your ideology as specifically opposite of another, that can't happen.

    What I think about, when I think about the value of sane political opposition, is that I was one of the more conservative members of the student union, generally averse to add to student fees to pay for services because I didn't see the immediate value of a lot of the services to justify making college more expensive than it already was...especially considering the cost of college is like a regressive tax. Being cautious with government spending is great, being reflexively opposed to government spending is foolishness.