Sunday, February 10, 2008

Meeting for 2/14: Power Versus the People (Pt. 1)


In writing this blog. I changed the title four times. The runner up was "Spin, Spin, Spin" but I feel the shifting role of power in this election season is worth exploring in itself.

According to power is:
1 a (1): ability to act or produce an effect b: legal or official authority, capacity, or right
2 a: possession of control, authority, or influence over others

This has been the longest presidential election season in history. What we're seeing is how undemocratic our election process really is. It's not only the electoral college screwing us over. Right from jump the political parties anoint their pick for the nomination. "We" don't get to choose anything. These candidates make they're deals, solidifying their in-party support with future 'favors' and slip into the white house. Usually the process goes on without a hitch.


This year has proven anything but usual.

On January 4th a democratic senator from Illinois beat the established candidate in the Iowa caucus. On the red side, a 72 year old "maverick" beat the slick, party-favored candidate. By all means, this was not supposed to happen. It was troubling to some because of what it meant. It meant their inherent right to choose the next president at been challenged. Challenged by the very people who they work for... their constituents!

Super Women and Men

Most of my venom is reserved for the elites of the Democratic party. However, the phenomenon this year effects both parties, and all of America. People are getting sick of the status quo. The same politicians making empty promises. Promising the moon and stars in exchange for one vote, but each years things get worse. The economy. The never ending war. The backroom deals that favor corporations , the connected and the wealthy. Negative job growth, etc.

People also getting sick of being told what to do.

Since George W. Bush's first election into office, the Karl Roves of America have won every election by putting divisive issues (i.e. issues where there can be no middle ground. One is either "for" or "against") like abortion and gay marriage on the ballot. The idea was to energize their base of Evangelicals to come out and vote against these issues to uphold their religious beliefs. Democrats and Independents uninspired by the candidates showed up in dismal numbers, which allowed Republicans to claim "50+1" victories. Basically, in politics you don't have to win. You just have to not lose. If you can get over 50% of the vote, you'll have enough votes/delegates to win the election. It's not a landslide by any means. But its enough to get you sworn in. Even it half of the electorate despises you.

In early 2006 the Republicans had a majority in both the Senate and House of Representatives. Along with a Republican president, who appointed Conservative judges to the Supreme Court (i.e, John Roberts), the Right had control of the three branches of government. Over the past six years it allowed them to authorize an unjust war and give out tax breaks to the wealthy. However, by November 2006 there would be a reversal of power in Congress. The election switched to majority in both houses to the democratic party.

The message of the people to the Democrats to was clear: get us out of Iraq!

Did it happen?

Last time I checked we are still there. One presidential candidate said he'd be up for staying in Iraq for 100 years!*

They were voted into power to end the Iraq war, but the Democratic party betrayed the country's trust. Why? It was too lucrative to get out. There are millions being made on government contracts in Iraq. Contracts to "built" schools and hospitals. Contracts for private security firms. Backroom deals with Lobbyists yield money for supporting certain bills, and voting against others.

Spin, Spin, Spin

In this election people are more passionate than ever about the presidential election. We had an abundance of interesting candidates bringing new ideas. Viewing it from that lens, why would people want more of the same?

With such a beneficial arrangement, why would the establishment of both parties want to change it?

That is why Barack Obama and John McCain scare their respective parties. Obama is break from tradition, organizing his campaign from the bottom up, instead of top down. Furthermore, he hasn't taken a dime for Lobbyists AND he stated many times he wants to throw them out of Washington. That means, the Lobbyists for a Nuclear Plant that wants to soften the safety requirements for their plants won't be free to woo congressmen to support their position.

With McCain, he's not "liberal" enough for the conservatives and he's had plenty of disagreements with members of his own party. The Republican elite wanted Romney to win, but due to his ever changing positions on a variety of issues, he did not receive votes to continue with his campaign. After few cutthroat skirmishes, Romney dropped out and McCain is emerged as the frontrunner.

With the democrats, in 2006 the suggestion that anyone other than Hillary Clinton would be the nominee was laughable. As of today, it seems like a real possibility. Well, that depends on who you ask. says: Clinton, 1127; Obama, 1110. says : Clinton, 1148; Obama, 1121. says: Clinton, 895; Obama, 943.

Obama won 4 more states this weekend and CNN says:

"Those contests gave him a lead over Clinton in pledged delegates to the convention, but Clinton still held a narrow edge over Obama when "superdelegates" -- elected officials and party leaders -- are included in the tally."

Obama, largely supported by the people is in a dead heat with Clinton, the establishment candidate of the Democrats. Yet, many sources are attempting to brand her in "the lead".


The biggest buzz word of the year in the political arena is "change". It's ubiquitous, yet it sums up the feelings of voters, both blue and red.

People want a government that will work with them to fix some of the problems we all face. Healthcare for all Americans. A stronger economy. An end to an abhorrent war. Real justice. Equal rights.

On the right, as well as the left, people are sick of their leaders speaking rhetoric yet failing to address they problems of their reality: home foreclosures, family members shipped over to Iraq, factories closing, and people working 2-3 jobs to support their family.

And on the right, the establishment candidate failed to capture votes. The new candidate embraced by the establishment is also struggling to gain support of the base. While, as a liberal I'm quite happy that Republicans are so fractured, I can clearly see the "rebellion" of the base to support the established candidate shows that they too have lost faith in their party and the leaders anointed by their elite.


Next Up: Identity Politics and Media Bias

*John McCain: 100 Years


Bandbabe said...

Part 2 will be posted today. Opening this one up for discussion :)

dishrag said...

"Obama is break from tradition, organizing his campaign from the bottom up, instead of top down" Yeah,I like this.  

Also, I'm really getting tired of the claim that if we pull our troops out now we will be putting our safety at stake (not to mention the Iraq's safety, but aren't we just making it worse?). As if Iraq posed a threat to us in the first place. And people are like "well then what do you suggest they do then" Well, you know what it's not my responsibility to come up with a military strategic plan! It has taken them 5 years to NOT figure out a "plan". Well, that's because they had one all along, they just didn't inform us. Part of me gets so made at my fellow Americans for believing such bullshit but then that brings me to what Sheryl was saying, that it isn't even up to us!    
Over the weekend I was debating with my Republican ex-step dad. My mom kept yelling at us to stop, seeing as though we were in the waiting room of the hospital waiting for my brother to get out of surgery and our voices kept getting louder and louder as we were trying to talk over each other! I always avoid having these conversation with him but this I had some fire in me!  
He said that comment about pulling the troops out and of course I went off and listed all the lies we were feed and that we were never supposed to be there in the first place. He claimed that global warming is a joke and insisted on watching Fox News!  It was really interesting listening to him spit off these text book stand points for a Republican but in a way it felt like he didn't even believe what he was saying. He's a wealthy, catholic, white male. Maybe this has something to do with his "forced" (!?) political stance. Who knows. But its sad to say that after watching that clip of John McCain, I pictured us sitting in the hospital room and him cheering after McCain's insane admission. Oh and he also said that George Bush will go down as the best president in history, but he said it with a smile, so I hope he was seriously joking!
I look forward to part 2 and the meeting on Thursday

Bandbabe said...

Thanks Tiff for the long response!
Sorry to hear about the disagreement with your ex-stepdad. Kudos for holding your own and then some! There are some republicans on my dad's side. The times I see 'em I avoid discussing politics--it definitely would get heated.

I'm looking forward to this week's meeting too. I'm going write up part 2 now.