Friday, November 30, 2007

A Plea for an Issues-Based Election

I posted this comment over at Anonymous Liberal, in response to somebody salivating over the prospect of Huckabee being the GOP nominee and getting crushed:

Pardon my starry-eyed idealism and naivete, but isn't it in the public interest to have strong candidates from both parties? And isn't it also in the public interest for the nominating process of both parties to favor candidates with broader-based appeal, rather than being controlled by party extremists?

Look, I won't purport to be something I'm not: I'm much more concerned about economic policy and national security, two issues with which I agree with the GOP a lot more than the Dems. So I usually hold my nose and vote Republican, even though I think they're recto-cranially inverted on social policy and many of the non-security bits of foreign policy. And yeah, I like to root for my team as much as the next guy.

But this year we've got serious energy policy issues on the table, the healthcare stuff is close to reaching a crisis point, and a serious discussion on setting the balance between liberty and safety needs to take place. These are areas where the extremists in both parties are--well, they're just being idiotic.

So I find myself in the odd situation where I'm genuinely undecided. Between Giuliani, Clinton, Romney, and Obama, there are plenty of issues to pick through. With two of these as the nominee, I think there's actually a chance for a decent national dialogue on stuff that's important. (Which isn't to say that we won't all be hip-deep in slime by November, but that's just a fact of modern elections.)

Now, if Huckabee--a man who appears to be my perfect anti-candidate--gets nominated, I 100% agree with you that it's over. But the net result of that is that Hillary or Barrack will consolidate their power by drifting further left, which by necessity requires reducing a whole bunch of issues to their simplest, most jingoistic formulation and going "lalalalalala" in response to any criticisms from the right.

This is how bad laws get made. This is exactly what caused the Republicans to go partially off the rails between 2001 and 2003 and completely off the rails between 2003 and 2007. When the Democrats were in utter disarray, there was no need to listen to them. When they got their act together, sanity slowly reemerged, even though the Democratic legislature has been completely ineffective.

I'm sure you can argue that the real answer for sanity prevailing is that it's simply better when the left is in power. I don't buy it. In my experience, policy ideas from both parties closely follow Sturgeon's Law ("ninety-five percent of everything is crap"). The beauty of two strong parties is that the other side will gleefully point out the 95% whenever it emerges. The only way to get balance this year is to have a credibly contested election.

So much for my plea for divided government, why I don't heart Huckabee, and why you shouldn't either, even if your goal is liberal--sorry, progressive--world domination.

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