Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Monday, October 20, 2008

This Is the End

Upgraded from Comments Friend of Blog Martin writes:
The tenor of this election is really, really ugly. It's obvious that Republicans hate losing much more than Democrats, and they're willing to say and do anything to stay in power, not least of which is framing the debate so that you are either an American (Republican) or a socialist terrorist.

I think when this is all said and done, and John McCain has time to reflect on his loss, he will be ashamed of his behavior. Perhaps this, rather than the Keating 5 scandal, will be the worst moment of his life.

I am hearing stories now of tires getting slashed on cars with Obama stickers, and early voters getting heckled as "cheaters" in polling places. I don't think this is a matter of one side hating to lose more than the other, I think it is a question of one side actually disapproving the very notion of democracy.

This sort of comment is all too apt to be dismissed as simply an ad hominem smear, I know -- but it really is true that there are any number of ways of organizing a polity and one senses that much of the anger of McCain's base comes from such a place of extreme rejection of the American way of life as it is actually constituted.

It seems to me that to accuse fellow citizens of "cheating" in exercising their legal right to vote implies a disapproval that this is a legal right, rather than competitiveness trumping principle.

This more extreme repudiation (in the name of a fantasy of a more "truly American" Christianist theocracy or in the service of certain incumbent powers paranoiacally imagining themselves under threat) extends as well to the arrant double standard of actually perpetuating massively disenfranchising voter fraud through a trumped up scandal about voter registration fraud in the case of Acorn involving at most a negligible threat to the integrity of the voting system, and the flabbergasting sanctimony with which Republican operatives are spreading unbelievably scurrilous claims about Obama, whomping up the worst kinds of racism, and Red-baiting, and Know-Nothingism, and rabble-rousing while accusing Obama and Democrats of "playing the race card" and indulging in "elitism" simply by recognizing the facts of what the Republicans are doing in plain sight!

I am expressing these views in a tone of no small amount of perplexity and even fearfulness, I should add. I'm not sure what exactly is going on here.

As for McCain's shame, I was never one of his big boosters back in the day (I always found him to be worrisomely militarist and anti-choice, just for starters), but I'll admit I never once imagined he was the sort of person who would stoop to this sort of thing or countenance it.

I don't know what to think of all this anymore, I find myself contemplating dark fantasies of a Rovian cabal shepherding another Bush-lite cipher (Palin) through the sausage machine of a dying Republic to maintain their corporate-militarist hegemony.

When all is said and done I simply can't believe that is true -- and if it were, I am pleased to say I do believe that these killer clowns are going down in an epic defeat.

Still, this ugly mean-spirited stinking consummation of Nixon/Reagan/Gingrich/Bush Movement Republicanism (nested within the larger Hayek/Friedman/Rand/Reagan/Thatcher/Pinochet/Deng neoliberal epoch) is a fittingly dumb small shitty end to a constellation of catastrophically murderously idiotic ideas.

Here's hoping a progressive sustainable technodevelopmental epoch of p2p democratization has more to offer for the next thirty years, and here's hoping we all remain in good enough health to enjoy and facilitate them, peer to peer.

7 comments:

JM Inc. said...

Some of this reminds me of some stories I read in my local newspaper during the recent elections here in Canada about people with Liberal Party signs on their lawns having the brakes on their automobiles destroyed.

Not that I'm claiming the Conservative Party of Canada is as terrible about this sort of thing as the GOP, in fact they haven't been doing a terrible job in the few years they've been in power and I'm not particularly frightened, since they've held on to the Government, that we're going to see a lot of problems with, for instance, gay marriage and so on (although I'm definitely glad they failed in their bid for a Parliamentary majority).

I think in Canada it's more a matter of simply not making progress rather than social regress, as it would be under McPalin and McPals, however there is a certain evident mindset among the Harperites and the McCainians that does frighten me. Stephen Harper, for instance, is well known for having an almost pathologically single-minded focus on party loyalty and secrecy. During the last federal election, there was a huff in the media about the fact that he was herding his ministers out the back door and stuffing them into the back seats of indistinct cars rather than letting them face the press.

I'm reminded of a talk given at TED by John Haidt about the origins of the value differences between liberals and conservatives.

Anonymous said...

...early voters getting heckled as "cheaters" in polling places. I don't think this is a matter of one side hating to lose more than the other, I think it is a question of one side actually disapproving the very notion of democracy.

Maybe, but it seems more likely McCain's people have figured out most of the early votes are going to Obama. If everyone voted today, Obama would win. I mean, he is ahead in the polls after all.

Obama knows the same thing. So he's on the stump to seal the deal early. Why leave a good, solid lead to chance? It's what anyone with a head for strategy would do. This, especially given the well-known Republican penchant for dirty tricks late in the season.

McCain's people probably really do think it's cheating. I mean, Obama barely left them enough time to finish the character-damaging push poll they've been working on.

And that's just not fair.

Dale Carrico said...

"McCain's people probably really do think it's cheating."

Then they need to be institutionalized, not sympathized with.

I get the irony obviously, and I'm totally down with the thrust of your point, but I do think we should resist reducing everything, even superficially, to opportunistic calculations about advantage here. There really is a difference that makes a difference between a movement to disenfranchise as against a movement to enfranchise voters in a society both major parties of which claim a notional embrace of democracy.

Once you act on the dictum "anything goes" you lose the right to pout and stamp about "fairness," once you show contempt for the rule of law you lose the right to claim that you are the "law and order" party, once you organize an entire movement to support incumbent minorities you lose the right to accuse those who resist you of "elitism," once you indulge in rank crony capitalism for a generation you lose the right to bemoan the specter of mythological "welfare queens," once you've been wrong about everything you lose the right to claim to know it all and the right to dismiss as ignoramuses everybody who has been right all along and predicted all the ruinous consequences of the idiotic ideas you've been promulgating in a Randroidal and Friedmanian bubble of uncritical self-regard and dull-as-dishwater greed.

God, I'm so sick of these people. Ready to move on now!

Robin said...

As for McCain's shame, I was never one of his big boosters back in the day (I always found him to be worrisomely militarist and anti-choice, just for starters), but I'll admit I never once imagined he was the sort of person who would stoop to this sort of thing or countenance it.

Just a few short years ago, many of my close friends were talking one day about how John McCain was the only Republican they could ever imagine voting for. They imagined fantasies where he chose a democratic running mate and was unstoppable (while simultaneously cursing the very NOTION that Hilary might ever have a shot). I'm no huge fan of Hilary, but I remember how surprised I was that many of my Dem friends would genuinely consider voting for McCain even back when he was the only one standing out against torture (so much for those principles, McCain!) The man came out in favor of teaching creationism a long time ago (one of those trigger issues for me) and so I looked a little closer and found the guy who everyone thought was totally a Nice Guy was just a pandering ass who stood out against torture ONLY because of his own history with it.

It's like the Republican motto: "I only care if it affects me directly."

Fuckers. I'm with you. We need to move on.

JUST this week about 10 Obama street signs sprung up in my neighborhood, (which is partially made of professors and partially made of poor minorities). I'm anxious that my voter registration hasn't gone through yet and I just want this to be over so we can imagine what it might be like to have ANY future again.

Remember when we used to imagine GREAT futures? Now I'll be happy with a future that includes the ability to survive.

Martin said...

I liked John McCain in 2000. I liked him even a year ago. He is not the same politician.

But even if you never liked McCain, imagine if Mitt Romney or Rudy Giulliani or Ron Paul were the Republican candidate. We got the least of the evils.

jimf said...

> It's obvious that Republicans hate losing much
> more than Democrats. . .

Well, that's because Republicans are Real Men (TM)
(Ann Coulter included), and Democrats are sissy wimps
who like to get pushed around.

Real Men (TM) Don't Take No For An Answer, and know
that Losing Is Not An Option.

Or something.

Antonin said...

"Remember when we used to imagine GREAT futures? Now I'll be happy with a future that includes the ability to survive."

Hey Martin, didn't you get the memo? Future-planning is a form of social engineering, and us rugged overachiever don't want no part in such "long-term" statist nonsense ever again.

You can still hope, however.