Friday, February 24, 2012

Way-Way-In-Advance Endorsement Note

So let's see. What's been going on in politics lately?

Well, only.... this. And this. And this and this and this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, these, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, and this.

This is all just in the past couple weeks, mind you. And I've very likely missed some things, as well as leaving things out from beyond the past couple weeks. It is just a field of thisles as far as the eye can see.

Behind each and every one of those links lies a different glimpse into the eyes of madness, mostly shockingly and alarmingly so and one or two of which we've already discussed here. And in each and every glimpse, it is one or more Republicans who are being shocking and alarming. It has become so constantly heart-stopping to watch that it's almost- but not quite- deadening to the senses. And by all appearances, it is going to get worse before it gets better, and it will not get better by November, let alone better enough to even so much as get back to even.

So here, way out in February, I'm already making an official endorsement for the November elections. It shouldn't be a gigantic shock that I'm backing Barack Obama for re-election.

That's not the endorsement.

The endorsement is a blanket endorsement to any candidate for office, anywhere in the country, that is running against a Republican. Whichever one has the greatest probability of winning their respective race. Usually that will be the Democrat, but I'm allowing that there will be some races where a third party candidate is more likely to win; any such candidate gets my blessing as well. Priority 1 is that the Republican loses.

This may seem a bit reckless. This may seem like I'm, well, pick your favorite term if you're a Republican reading- a water-carrier, a flunky, an apologist, a liberal toady of the loony left. Well, if this makes me loony, then call me loonier than a Canadian coin. There are, obviously, Democrats who do bad things as well. To claim otherwise would be ridiculous. But to sit here and give the 'both sides are bad' argument is just as ridiculous, not to mention lazy. You cannot plausibly make a list as long as the one I just did of things that are just as bad, done by Democrats. You cannot. You certainly can't do it using just the past few weeks.

If it were just that, that wouldn't be cause for a blanket, straight-ticket endorsement. There is, however, also the partisanship to take into account, specifically the extreme level of No True Scotsman behavior going on, again particularly on the Republican side of the aisle. Wavering from the extreme faction of the agenda in any way, even temporarily, even on one issue, is grounds to be branded a RINO- Republican In Name Only- and abandoned in favor of someone even more extreme. What you see in the Republican primary is a race founded, built, teetering precariously, and now collapsing on that principle, as Matt Taibbi points out in his review of the Arizona debate. The two candidates in the primary considered 'moderate' were Tim Pawlenty and Jon Huntsman Jr. Neither ever really got into the race, and Pawlenty was the very first candidate out of the running. Pawlenty dropped out on August 14, ten days before Jonathon Sharkey.

In this environment, reasonable Republicans simply cannot survive. They are rendered politically impotent, or run out of office outright in favor of the latest vision of what constitutes a 'real Republican'. This is why I'm invoking the Lincoln Chafee Corollary: even if the Republican in office is a genuinely decent guy- and I know some still exist- they still have to go solely because of the R next to their name. Chafee was swept out of the Senate in the Democratic wave of 2006 primarily due to the R next to his name. The voters of Rhode Island in essence told him 'Lincoln, we like you, we respect you. That's what makes this so hard.' And then they booted him for Sheldon Whitehouse.

Which highlights one other thing: the decent Republicans may in fact be Republicans In Name Only. Chafee certainly was. After his defeat, he formally changed allegiance to independent, endorsed Obama in 2008, and without the R next to his name, he went back in front of the voters of Rhode Island in 2010, and they made him governor. On Wednesday, he was named co-chair of Obama's re-election campaign.

What I'm getting at here is that the no-true-Scotsman process leads to what I hold to be an unacceptable risk of any given Republican, anywhere in the country, doing something that is just as crazy as anything in the opening list, and that, at least for the time being, no reasonable Republican can hope to accrue influence amongst the people they're made to regard as partymates. And any gain in ground, at least in this election, is only going to be regarded as a 'mandate' or whatever word constitutes a greenlight to go even more extreme than this. They're going to think that this is what America wants and needs. It's that simple. That can't be allowed to happen. This is not about partisanship, even though it is, if that makes sense. This is about being a decent human being. There is, of course, some level of disappointment in the Democrats not doing more, but there is little that can be done when one side not only needlessly obstructs the process, but actively runs things this far in the opposite direction. Before anything else can be done, the elements of madness must be removed from the process.

There's an old saying about the US House of Representatives that the most important vote they cast is the first one: the one for Speaker of the House. Everything that occurs over the course of the ensuing two years hinges on who's got the gavel. Similar statements can be made up and down the ballot, and that first vote, that decision on who controls the process, is the one I'm focusing on.

Because people who make the moves like those above should not be controlling the process.

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