Watts (chipotle) wrote,

A rare political ramble!

Well, the election's over and... hmm.

I'd describe my own political leanings as a mix of liberal populism and classic anarchism, in modern parties roughly translating to, oh, 75% Green and 25% Libertarian. I think government should be as small as possible for it to still be effective, but I believe that government is a necessary good, not a necessary evil. Everyone in a society acting solely in their own self-interest will not lead to the optimum good for everyone, because societies have shared resources. "Your right to swing your fist ends at my nose" is a good guideline, but your right to do what you want on your property ends when it adversely affects those around you and those who come after you. Air and water--ecosystems--don't follow human zoning maps. And (here's that classic anarchist part) I believe that both Greens and Libertarians tend to focus on just half the picture: the danger to democracy isn't excessive government power or excessive corporate power, it's both--excessive concentration of power in either the private or public sphere. I place the highest value on accountability, and I tilt more toward Green than Libertarian on the grounds that the accountability of government to governed is higher than that of corporation to those affected by corporate actions. Granted, in practice government often isn't responsive, but the mechanisms are there to be fixed.

Among the two major parties I (surprise) tend toward Democrat. In no small part this is because Republicans often run on social platforms I disagree with, and because the federal budgets in my lifetime, at least, simply don't support the widely-held belief that Republicans are more fiscally conservative than Democrats. (Check the numbers for everything, not just "entitlement programs," which are rarely cut significantly by either party despite the rhetoric--the most significant welfare cut in decades ironically being under Clinton. As a college roommate of mine put it, Democrats do follow "tax and spend," but in practice Republicans follow "don't tax, spend anyway.")

So. I am disturbed that Congress is going to be in Republican control now. But you know, I don't think it's as much because they're Republicans as because I think it makes for better government if the administration and Congress are at odds. It makes for a lot of entertaining political fireworks, too, sure--but it means both sides have to compromise. To get anywhere, they have to at least consider the validity of the opposing viewpoint, to make concessions. Yes, more often than not you end up with laws that don't make everyone happy, but that's good. If you have two (or more) mutually exclusive positions, workable compromises are ones in which nobody can be completely satisfied: if one person is, it's not much of a compromise.

Here in Florida, "Jeb" Bush won for governor, which I expected. I actually liked Jeb, in a vaguely lukewarm way, until earlier this year when he started making off-the-cuff comments (the infamous "devious plan" quote about undermining a constitutional amendment were it passed, suggesting a discredited child worker was a lesbian as if that were proof of unfitness) that revealed a venal nastiness I hadn't seen before. But, Bill McBride, Jeb's opponent, had very little in the way of plans; his entire platform was essentially two points: "more money to education through an outrageously high cigarette tax" and "I'm not Jeb Bush." Well, okay, Bill, but given that you have the charisma of a turnip, you needed to give us more.

I suppose I can rudely say that Florida isn't going to be my personal problem now--California will be, and for all its (copious) faults I suspect I'll prefer the California political environment to Florida's. Granted, this means I will be trading Jeb for Gray Davis, the legendary incompetent who makes Bill McBride look like a revered statesman and, I'm given to understand, one of the least popular governors in California's history. Apparently the Republicans went out of their way to find a candidate who could successfully lose to him, which means the Florida Democratic Party may have to give up the coveted "Circular Firing Squad" award.

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