Friday, September 17, 2004

Experience may not bring wisdom...

...but it does bring experience.

The following is edited from a post I wrote on one of Michael J. Totten's threads. He attracts posters of widely diverse and deeply held opinions and acts as benign despot over the resulting axe fights:

My chief problem with the Democrat party goes a long, long way beyond philosophical differences. I can pleasantly disagree with anybody over a cup of coffee, or on a forum like this. The problem is that at some point, philosophy ends up becoming policy, and policy eventually becomes history. That's where the current Democrats, or self-identified liberal/progressive folks, have eliminated themselves from my consideration for elective office. I do not want a group that embraces victimization, exploitation, moral relativism, and farcical equalization of outcomes anywhere near halls of power.

I have lived through enough progressive-inspired social engineering, race politics, class warfare, income redistribution, and ineffective foreign policy to decide that they didn't work, and not because for a lack of effort or funding. Do I think that all Democrats are acting on an agenda aimed at totalitarian government? No..but they are clearly clueless when it comes to recognising failure or the necessity of discriminating between good intentions and the actual results of their actions. I think that too many progressive folks have more time and liesure on their hands than they have been able to handle. It's nice to think that we can MAKE a perfect world happen. People are imperfect, though, and the world is a complicated place. The more vigorously you attempt to force an idealized solution onto real people the less effective the effort becomes. The problem the democrats have run up against is very simple: in spite of how much good they want to do, there aren't enough voters who think they can deliver after watching the last three or four decades roll by.

I vote for candidates that embrace ideas like minimal government interference in individual citizens' lives, minimal taxation at all levels, a color/sex/ethnic blind beauracracy, domestic policies that encourage entrepneurship personal responsibility, citizenship, and foreign policy based on strong defense and vigorous prosecution of foreign threats where necessary.

Do I get everything I want by voting straight-ticket Republican? No; I can't remember the last time I voted for a straight ticket, either. But I certainly get closer to what I want by voting republican than if I vote for somebody voting left of say, Ted Kennedy, right?. Think of elections as feedback loops in a system. We have a regular and predictable opportunity to tweak the system. We can afford to splurge on new ideas as long as we don't write checks the rest of the system cannot cash. New is not bad; objective failure left uncorrected out of pique or because of personal emotional investment most certainly is.

The function of the Electoral College has been a recurring topic of interest, especially since the 2000 election. I think it is an essential mechanism ensuring the maximum accountability of presidential candidates to the issues facing the nation as a whole.

The Electoral College was included in the constitution precisely because the simple majority model of elections would not be effective in weighting regional issues in regard to national executive power. Senators and representatives represent localities; direct election works because those candidates usually have to get every possible demographic they can and local issues are, well, local. The interests of people in large states A and E almost certainly bear scant relation to those in small states B, C, and D...but to adhere blindly to nationwide simple majority decision out of an urge to exercise ideal democracy (which is NOT the case - Democrats' last bastions are dense urban populations; tossing the EC is a tactical, not ideological, move) can only lead to election of individuals who recognise no accountability beyond the demographic whose population is great enough to see them elected.

We folk - we who argue these subjects and fine points across the weeks, months, and years - we are not the people who elect presidents. The big lump of votes that will tip the balance will be cast by people who look no further than their immediate life situation as the measuring stick they will hold up against the candidates. The EC means that means that candidate A can't arbitrarily pander to a few select regions and coast to victory.

Food, shelter, and security trumps utopia everytime, and this is good. When the process by which the election is ultimately decided accurately (as is possible)reflects the concerns of the nation as a whole we are in effect buying insurance against balkanization. Do the important stuff adequately, Joe Politician, then you may have room to experiment.

I don't want to MAKE anything work. I want to LET it it work...which on balance has been the most successful practice of American government.

Y'all have a fine weekend.


Michael J. Totten said...

Benign despot, eh? So I guess that makes me Captain Abby (King Abdallah of Jordan). I guess I can live with that.

TmjUtah said...

Michael -

I don't know how to make it an honorific without writing a book....

I don't have any experience with managaing a comment library. I hope I can attain the stature of benevolent despot and not merely revert to my real-life conflict resolution skills.

My wife has accused me of being abrupt. Think of that word coming from your One True Love. Forget content or definition - just the sound and the messenger are enough to let you know "THAT could have been done DIFFERENTLY....".

I am amazed at how far apart the political poles remain on your blog and yet your regulars still seem to make it through fifty or a hundred comments with reasonable comments.

Thanks for reminding me of Abby. I think that once I have guests in, all I can really do is grit about spilled drinks and burns on the carpet. Hospitality is important.

Have a fine tomorrow, Michael. I'm going to wire/sheetrock/paint/tile a smallish room in the basement this weekend. If I can get past my reloading room. The wife promises to help, and she's equipped herself with a little something that looks like it was used to unhorse french knights to make it happen.

My time won't be my own, that's for sure.