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« Reason

Politics is a game

By Tyler S. Clark (Contact)


Published September 22, 2008

Politics is a game. If you're wondering why one candidate is ahead of the other in the polls this week, it's all about whose organization got the better punches. After all, the candidates are ultimately representatives of their parties; parties whose histories go back to the early part of the nineteenth century. Though largely underground during the presidency of George Washington, political parties surfaced during the turbulent presidency of John Adams and played a large role in the tumultuous election of 1800.

Our modern politics are focused primarily on personalities and only secondarily on principles and policies. If the people like the personality, they will find any excuse to defend the policies.

The media circus that entertains us on an hourly basis provides us with a host of emissaries, ambassadors, and surrogates from each party to craft a nurturing, wholesome, strong image of their candidate. They surface and spin to inflict damage and score points for their team and hope that the cumulative effect of sound bites will influence undecided voters that they have a vision while reassuring the party faithful that their team has their act together and is on the attack so as not to be brought down by the opposing side.

What the Republican Party has been waiting and watching for in the McCain campaign is for him to finally come out in support of conservative, right-wing principles that its rabid base holds so dear. This it finally did so resoundingly with the selection of Sarah Palin as its vice presidential candidate.

With this selection, he was able to trot out the tried and true veneer of conservatives as authentic, patriotic Americans, principally concerned with country above all else while Democrats, aka Liberals (that handy, libelous label), are concerned only with their own narrow, self-serving, hippy interests that advance nothing except a desire to see the world in some communalistic, utopian, and wholly unrealistic fashion.

The truth, of course, is that the Republicans have been manipulating control of the government to enrich themselves and have grown out of touch with the people they claim to represent. To equate the partisan interests of a right-wing corporate lobbyist who is interested in influencing policy to ensure that his corporation pays fewer taxes with a left-wing lobbyist who is interested in influencing policy so corporations emit less greenhouse gases is a false dichotomy. The motives behind these two pursuits are of vastly different sources. One is interested in advancing policy for one's own benefit, and one is interested in advancing policy for everyone's benefit.

The game that Republicans have excelled at playing for so long is enabled by a media who believes if must balance mention of one side's attack by another side's excuse, regardless of the merits of each side. This must be exposed as the sham that it is.

A friend forward this to me this week, which I think sums up the preposterousness of the Republican strategy in general and the Palin pick, specifically:

  • If you grow up in Hawaii, raised by your grandparents—you're "exotic, different."
  • Grow up in Alaska, eating moose burgers—a quintessential American story.
  • If your name is Barack, you're a radical, unpatriotic Muslim.
  • Name your kids Willow, Trig and Track, and you're a maverick.
  • Graduate from Harvard Law School, and you are unstable.
  • Attend 5 different small colleges before graduating, you're well grounded.
  • If you spend 3 years as a selfless community organizer, become the first black President of the Harvard Law Review, create a voter registration drive that registers 150,000 new voters, spend 12 years as a Constitutional Law professor, spend 8 years as a State Senator representing a district with over 750,000 people, become chairman of the state Senate's Health and Human Services committee, spend 4 years in the United States Senate representing a state of 13 million people while sponsoring 131 bills and serving on the Foreign Affairs, Environment and Public Works and Veteran's Affairs committees, you don't have any real leadership experience.
  • If your total resume is: local weather girl, 4 years on the city council and 6 years as the mayor of a town with less than 7,000 people, 20 months as the governor of a state with only 650,000 people, then you're qualified to become the country's second-highest ranking executive.
  • If you have been married to the same woman for 19 years while raising 2 daughters, all within Protestant churches, you're not a real Christian.
  • If you cheated on your first wife with a rich heiress, and left your disfigured wife and married the heiress the next month, you're a Christian.
  • If you advocate responsible, age-appropriate sex education, including the proper use of birth control, you are eroding the fiber of society.
  • If, while governor, you staunchly advocate abstinence only, with no other option in sex education in your state's school system while your unwed teen daughter ends up pregnant, you're very responsible.
  • If your wife is a Harvard graduate lawyer who gave up a position in a prestigious law firm to work for the betterment of her inner city community, then gave that up to raise a family, your family's values don't represent America's.
  • If you're husband is nicknamed "First Dude", with at least one DWI conviction and no college education, who didn't register to vote until age 25 and once was a member of a group that advocated the secession of Alaska from the USA, your family is extremely admirable.

Clearly, it doesn't add up. Next time you see an article in your local paper or hear a story on the news conflating a story with unbalanced sides from the right and left, speak up for your cause. No one's going to do it for you. 

---

Have a topic you'd like to read about? Or just want to give your feedback? E-mail me at reason -at- tylersclark.com  


Comments

1CAWren(4 comments)posted 5 years, 12 months ago

SARAH PALIN PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES

I am terrified at the prospect of this less than open, inexperienced, undereducated woman might be representing the United States.

Inexperienced?

For a short time she was a sports reporter

4 years on a small town city council
6 years as the mayor of a small town with less than 7,000 people
2 1/2 years as the governor of a state with only 650,000 people.
On the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.

Palins lack of curiosity about the world and international affairs.
Ms. Palin first applied for a passport last year.
Undereducated?

After changing colleges 5 times she did graduate with a Journalism degree

Less than truthful? "Thanks but no thanks"

Regarding the bridge to nowhere. In 2006, Palin ran for governor on a "build-the-bridge" in her platform. She urged quick work on Alaska's infrastructure projects "while our congressional delegation is in a strong position to assist." (Ted Stevens) After the bridge received sharp criticism from John McCain and other congressional members she backed down.
Sarah Palin's transportation department has JUST completed a $25 million gravel road leading to the site of a (The Bridge To Nowhere) bridge that Palin, now boasts that she stopped, so as to save taxpayers money. The road was built with federal tax dollars. A ROAD TO NOWHERE

Troopergate. A Democratic Witch Hunt?

The council, which approved the troopergate inquiry, is made up of eight Republicans and four Democrats. The inquiry was initiated, (Before her nomination)and continues, only because Alaska Republicans many of whom have worked with and supported Palin in the past agree with Alaskan Democrats that the question of whether Palin abused her authority must be addressed.

Book Banning Question

In Oct 1996 Palin inquired as to whether Emmons (Wasilla town Libraian) would object to library censorship. Emmons resisted. Palin then raised the possibility that people may circle the library in protest, to which Emmons replied that the American Civil Liberties Union would get involved. Palin backed down. Palin fired Emmons on 1/ 30/1997. The next day she withdrew the firing after an expression of public support for Emmons.

The thought of Ms. Palin sitting across the table from the likes of a Mahmoud Ahmadinejad chills me to the bone. She is NOT qualified to be Vice President let alone President.

I do not want "JUST ANYONE" To Be President!

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2ytownoptimist(86 comments)posted 5 years, 12 months ago

Politics is not just a game, its about branding. The Republicans have been brilliant at developing a cohesive objective and strategy. As a marketer, I've recognized this time and time again. They analyze their stats, target their audience, develop strategic times and places to "launch" their product and hone great taglines and benefits. In my opinion, because Republicans have had so much historical support from business leaders, they have had this mentality at their disposal when tackling elections. It has been brilliantly effective even if they aren't my team. When a competitor's product is beating yours, you find a way to make your own product new again, better than the competition and/or see how far you can get with sublty, tweaking verbiage that makes the competition sounding horrible (but may not in fact be accurate). You don't need an MBA to see this and Obama has been the best of the crop to try to enlist this type of political branding.

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3lucy(123 comments)posted 5 years, 12 months ago

"The game that Republicans have excelled at playing for so long is enabled by a media who believes if must balance mention of one side's attack by another side's excuse, regardless of the merits of each side. This must be exposed as the sham that it is."

Deborah Tannen wrote a book called The Argument Culture that makes exactly this point, and she examines the role of our institutions (academic as well as media) in creating this culture.

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4tylersclark(182 comments)posted 5 years, 12 months ago

I was at a dinner tonight where this played out two seats over. I did not directly engage but witnessed a conversation where two McCain-leaning males discussed their post-Palin conversion to the ticket with an Obama-voting female. They professed their admiration for her standing up to her own party while Obama--they continued--was strictly a party man.

I decided there was nothing to gain from inserting myself into a discussion with people who were voting personality over policy.

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5Tugboat(759 comments)posted 5 years, 12 months ago

"The personal qualities necessary for attaining office are practically the opposite of those demanded by the office itself. The trouble with the damn system is that it selects for the skills needed to get elected, and nothing else. A test that you can only pass by cheating can't possibly select honest people." -- James P. Hogan

"Our current political system ensures not that the worst will get on top -- though they often do -- but that the best will never even apply." -- Paul Jacob

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