03 February 2008

My Endorsements: Super Sunday & Super Tuesday

Not that anyone of sound and independent mind should really care, but here are the crucial picks for the crucial issues of the day from one middle-aged, middle-class, middle-mortgage, mid-level bureaucrat, husband, and dad.

Super Sunday: I grew up just outside of Boston in the ‘70s, back when they were the Boston Patriots led by QB Jim Plunkett, RB Sam Bam Cunningham, and WR Randy Vataha. The Philadelphia Eagles supplanted the Pats as my favorite team in high school, but I continue to follow ‘em, and, quite honestly, the Patriots have provided a few more opportunities to cheer in recent years than have the Birds.

After an impossible and impressive run to 18-0, it’d be a shame to see ‘em lose this last and championship game. While I usually run with the underdogs in the Super Bowl just to see top dogs get knocked off the roof of their dog house, Fate demands a Patriots victory today. A season-long streak like this comes along once a generation. And it’s time to witness a little perfection in our world, don’t ya think? I’ll be grinding up some salsa and guacamole, frozen mozzarella sticks, and boilin’ up the chili dogs by 3pm today. It’s the Patriots’, all the way.

Super Tuesday: I will stand in line on Tuesday morning and color in my voter's bubble for Barack Obama…because it’s time to change. I have no doubt that Hillary would be a solid, formidable, effective president. If she emerges victorious at the end of this process, I will support her with all I have available to give. The positions taken by Clinton and Obama are not all that radically different. In all fairness, I’m having a hard time figuring out what they would do differently than the other when elected.


I’m so tired of the language of politics today. So beleaguered by the pettiness, the crassness, the obnoxiousness, the shiftiness of the dialogue. I’m exhausted by right v left, blue v red, east v west, Hannity v Colmes, Carville v Matalin. For 16 years, this country has done nothing but holler at each other across increasingly rigid lines. You can blame talk radio, the insipid corporate media, and the internet, but we are no longer one country, indivisible. We are not united to stand; we are divided to fail. Another four or eight years with the Clintons in the White House just prolongs the angry, short-sighted, politically expedient rhetoric, not only in Washington, but in our own communities across the continent.

It’s time for America to speak with a new voice. It’s time for someone who can lead us with a vision for the future, a vision that includes justice and opportunity for everyone. The only one in this race capable of changing the nature of our national dialogue is Barack Obama.

I admire the way Senator Obama has kept his campaign focused on the future, on changing the framework of the debate, and generally steering clear of the name-calling and blame-placing brought upon the race by the Clintons. I was among the hundreds of star-struck fans at Bill’s Eureka performance a few weeks ago, but the Clinton campaign proved itself that night, and continues to prove itself today not only capable, but eager to sink into the political muck to reach a political victory, and not of reaching up to take us to a new place.

Perhaps my vote is a vote against something as much as it is a vote for something. And it’s likely that my vote for Obama will be cancelled out within my own household. But, and it’s become cliché, it’s time for a change. For the country’s sake, we have to end the politics of polarization, stop this rhetorical inanity, and move forward, to a new future, a future we where can are proud to be United States and united Americans again. Barack Obama is the only one standing in the campaign capable of leading us there.

What about all the ballot initiatives, Bob? I oppose the entire ballot initiative process in principal, so I probably won’t vote on any of ‘em, out of pure spite. This is idiot special interest democracy run amok. I’m tired of being hustled at the Farmer’s Market and the Safeway parking lot by students and ne’er do wells who don’t understand the nature of what they’re asking us to sign on the dotted line for, and who are almost always paid by the signature by some corporation, special interest group, or billionaire. How about doing away with this ridiculous ballot initiative process altogether and making the legislature do the job we send ‘em to Sacramento to do for a change?

And while we’re on the topic, we already have a term-limit law in place, folks. It’s been there since the founding of the state and the US Constitution. It’s called an election. If you don’t’ like your congressman, vote him/her the hell out of office. There’s absolutely nothing stopping you.

Enough ranting. I’ve got guacamole to create.


Kym said...

Another good post. I especially enjoyed your first paragraph on Obama. You have a gift with words.

Evan Ravitz said...

Go Obama.

If there's a problem with citizen democracy, fix it, don't give a monopoly to representatives, so easily corrupted by money, power and ego!

There've been many good proposals to get ballot initiatives "under control" -and representatives are the main obstacle! The Swiss, for example, for 160 years have allowed petitions to be signed at City Hall, supermarkets, etc., so petitioners don't have to be paid (allowing grassroots groups to afford to participate) and letting people read and sign at leisure instead of being pressured.

Also, look at history: Women's Suffrage was passed by voters (that would be men!) in 13 states before Congress finally went along. Medical Marijuana was passed by ballot initiative in 8 of the 13 states with it. "Clean" (publicly funded) Elections were passed by initiative in 6 of the 7 states with it. Many more examples at http://Vote.org/initiatives

The BEST proposals for more deliberation (hearings, expert testimony, amendments, and reports -like representatives get),
less influence by money, etc. and for NATIONAL initiatives (which would stop torture, aggressive war, domestic spying etc., FAST) are the National Initiative for Democracy project of Mike Gravel (http://Vote.org) and Citizens Initiative Review (http://Cirwa.org)

Anonymous said...

Nice take on Obama, Bob.

Ernie Branscomb said...

Wow, keep writing.

I agree with you on some things, but not on others. My brain hurts right now from too much thinking. I appreciate yours thoughts, but disagree on some issues also. I’ll be back.

Dinners ready.

Jennifer Savage said...

Mmmmm, guacamole!

Quite the articulate post, Bob – as expected. Thanks for summing up the great political divide so well.

Bob Flame, Ranger said...

Oh well. Keep in mind the Pats' comments were an endorsement not a pick. Do you think 18 and 0 matters anymore?

And I appreciate the number of y'all who've dropped in. Wouldn't expect anyone to agree with all my ranting, and I've been known, like the Patriots, to be somewhat less than perfect in my opinions, but that's what makes us such a cool collection of thinkin' citizens, eh? Join in the rants. Come one, come all.

Ernie Branscomb said...

“You can blame talk radio, the insipid corporate media, and the internet, but we are no longer one country, indivisible. We are not united to stand; we are divided to fail.”
Agreed. I am reminded of how easily the television media took out Howard Dean on his supposed “rant” that he did over the noise of the crowd that his microphone wasn’t picking up. I think we are becoming a nation of sheep, and we are not so much depending on the media to give us information, but we are taking the easy way out and letting them tell us what to think, instead of thinking for ourselves.

I‘m assuming from your stance on ballot initiatives that you would be against California‘s Propostion 13 -“The People's Initiative to Limit Property Taxation,"

Bob said: “This is idiot special interest democracy run amok. “

I’m sorry Bob, but I feel the ballot initiative is the last desperate gasp of “We The People.”
The ballot initiative is not an easy process, and it is still subject to a vote. Bad initiatives are not likely to pass. But, here is the rub; who could we depend on to look out for us if our politicians ever become dependant on big money? That was a rhetorical question, because our politicians are all dependant on big money. Frightfully so!

Does it worry you that America no longer has any manufacturing jobs? Or that we are becoming more and more dependant on foreign oil? Does it bother you that we are no longer able to maintain our infrastructure? Does it bother you that people without college educations or slightly disadvantaged people can no longer maintain good enough employment that they can make ends meet. Does it bother you that there are people living on the streets. These are not problems that a bought-out-politician is going to solve for us. If they were problems that the politicians were inclined to address, they already would have. These are problems that “We The People” are going to have to solve. We can’t depend on the same politicians that sold our God Bless America down the river already.

You and I are always going to do well, because we are smart and have organized our lives to be successful. Not all people are as well adapted to survival as you and I. For that reason I believe in the ballot initiative.

You obviously have a powerful brain, please use it to help solve our problems, we already know what they are.

Carol said...

Sorry that the Patriot's lost. I also grew up in Massachusetts on Cape Cod.

I voted absentee for Hillary mainly because we are both women. I love Obama and will be very happy if he is the democratic nominee.

Bob Flame, Ranger said...

Thank you, Ernie, and Evan before you, for the impassioned counterarguments to my trashing of the ballot initiative process. And yes, Ernie, all those things you listed do concern me, thus my standing, I believe, as a thinking, progressive democrat desperately seeking a change in our national dialogue.

But like the ideal of a people-driven representative democracy as elucidated in our constitution, I feel the ballot initiative system has been just as effectively bastardized as our congress and state assembly.

Is not the ballot initiative process driven primarily by corporate interests, perhaps even more so than people power? Were those Indian gaming issues on yesterday's ballot being debated by Indians on the reservations and their quarter-slot-armed customers, or by big corporations and powerful politicians that wanted to ensure their constituencies of a substantial piece of the pie?

Money has corrupted the entire system, and I'm not sure how to fix it. (If I did, I'd probably be collecting money from campaign reform special interests so I could run for office to change it before I became corrupted myself.)

But rather than handing lawmaking over to the "man on the street" (which of course is what democracy means at its core) I'd rather see us first begin to demand responsibility and accountability of our politicians, local and national. In this pretty great system we created a couple hundred years ago, we captured the idea of a congress of our representatives, serving the will of the people. It's still a pretty cool concept.

I'd suggest we fix the way our elected representatives do business, first by banning lobbying and corporate money altogether, and by waking up the slumbering intellects of we the people who continue to vote these folks in to office, and demand that they serve us, and not God or mammon. If they don't, lets' find someone else who will.

Ernie Branscomb said...

All of those things that you talk about are lofty, and for the most part, shared ideals. But how would you get them on the ballot without a voter initiative?

Although the bathwater is getting a little mucky, there’s still a baby in it that might grow up, and become the good laws that will save us all.

I feel that it is the special interest groups that are behind trying to get rid of the voter initiative process. If you look at the laws that have been passed by the voter initiative, there are some bad, but also some good laws. If you look it up, you’ll find what I mean. Proposition 13 was one of the laws that would have never happened with out an initiative. Even though there are people that have opinions on both sides of that law, I feel it was a necessary law.

Bob:“ As a thinking, progressive democrat desperately seeking a change in our national dialogue.
I would think that you would see the voter initiative as a tool against the ingrained “Big Money Politics”.

It is nice to talk to someone like yourself that can discuss the issues without all the name calling. You have a refreshing blog with a refreshing point of view.