Icarus Shrugged

I’ll admit I’m a bit depressed about the state of things. 

I’ve been in and around politics for most of my life, which my gray hair is now telling me, is a long time.  I fully understand and appreciate that sometimes your team wins, and sometimes, they lose.  Sometimes, they lose big.  Big as in Epic Fail.  I fear that my team is on the verge of one of those losses. 

The road to cataclysmic failure is usually easy to identify.  Anyone who has read any of Farrispostings lately should be able to understand what’s going on in the mind of those of us who have tried to fight the good fight.  A long association with politics and politicians will make anyone with a modicum of intelligence cynical.  And anyone who has spent decades trying to build the party of “smaller government” has a right to be bitter.  Very, very bitter.

And I am, to some extent.

Ronald Reagan didn’t use scare tactics to move his agenda.  He killed the opposition with kindness.  He didn’t lament the poor condition of American industry that needed to be rescued with government intervention, he promised to get government out of the way so that innovation and ingenuity would show us the way forward.  He certainly didn’t talk about “spreading the wealth”, he talked about, and created the climate for, making the pie bigger.  And it grew bigger.

As the Gipper faded off in the sunset, we’ve gone through a succession of “leaders” who have dumbed down conservatism into something that Reagan himself probably wouldn’t recognize.  More importantly, we’ve turned it into something he wouldn’t approve of. 

I don’t know what conservatism is even supposed to mean anymore.  A large portion of our party believes it means cutting taxes anywhere, all the time.  Reagan sold conservatism as the original hope and change.  He converted the Reagan Democrats because he offered hope, he offered a better way, he dared to offer change.  Democrats only offered “malaise”.   Tax cuts were merely a tool.  They weren’t the end game.

Now, when someone asks about access to health care, we offer them tax cuts.  Better schools?  Tax cuts.  National Security?  A bigger and more expensive military, a new department of homeland security, but also tax cuts.

Reagan, as the great communicator, was able to break it down into simple and easy to understand rhetoric.  He was hopeful.  He was reassuring.  He was willing to challenge the presumption that government could and should solve everything. 

Now, we accept the premise of a government solution to anything, and usually offer a tax cut in return.  Every time there is a crisis, we must have a large unfounded expense or extension of government power, with little explanation as to cause and effect.  Details will be worked out by Congress, no need to look behind the curtain.  But we’re working on more tax cuts, so don’t worry about it.

Another large part of our party believes that conservatism means protecting America’s “Christian Values”.   The party that once believes government was the problem now seems to want government to advance their religion.  I do not want the government interfering with anyone’s practice of their chosen religion, but I equally don’t want the government trying to advance my religion either, given their track record with education, or even Amtrak.

So is this why I’m a bit depressed?  No.  These are just the things that keep me cynical and somewhat bitter. 

I’m depressed because the movie Idiocracy is already coming true.

In order to explain, I’d like to digress for a moment.  I enjoy discussing politics with people I don’t agree with.  I have a few friends and relatives in particular who are so unmitigatedly liberal that they often choose fringe third parties in presidential elections because the democrats are “too conservative”.  These are well educated professional people who are normal in everyday society, but have a belief/value system that is way different from mine.   In each of our political discussions, I try to drill down to why they believe what they do, or why they advocate for the policies that they do, in hope to either find common ground, or a flaw in their logic so I can one day change their mind.

But more and more, these aren’t the kinds of people that I’m up against.  They and I are up against the bigger evil:  The undecided voter.

Last week, I was at a social gathering, and was introduced to a guy who could be Atlanta’s own “Joe the Plumber”.  He was a manager (and I think part owner) of a blue-collar company, and when he found out I was in politics, asked for some advice on government assistance for his company.   We talked for a bit about his specific issue, and then the conversation moved to the Presidential election.     

He told me he had made up his mind, but then was having real problems with the Palin pick.  We talked a little more, and he discussed his belief that she was picked because she was an attractive lady, and wasn’t ready to be president.  He was adamant that she was a horrible pick, and for that reason, he couldn’t vote for Obama.

Wait, what?

I asked to make sure I understood.  And I did.  He had decided not to vote for Obama because he had picked Palin as his V.P. choice. 

After a moment of somewhat stunned silence, I suggested that he may want to review the facts of the matter, as Palin was, in fact, McCain’s pick.  He protested, until his wife, 3 months pregnant, spoke up.  “I’ve been telling him that for 3 weeks, and he won’t listen to me”. 

Good Lord.

The presidential election has been going on for 2 years.  We’re down to days left, and by many polls, more than 10% of the country is still “undecided”.   The two major party choices offer the most stark differences in the country’s direction in a generation. 

We spend our time here trading barbs, exchanging ideas, and at least making some half-assed attempt to understand what’s going on in the world.

But we’re not going to decide this election.  The undecided’s are. 

We wonder why we get campaign commercials like the DSCC attacking Saxby for voting with them, or why Margie Lopp might have her home made jingle given $5 million of airtime.

It’s because the undecideds can’t bother to figure out what’s actually going on in the world. 

Yet, they’re in charge.

And I’m depressed.

I’m sure I’ll be fine after a couple of drinks of Brawndo.  It has electrolytes.

48 comments

  1. candlerpark says:

    I agree with you about the ‘undecideds’ . . . I just cannot understand how anyone can be truly undecided at this stage of the game.

    Interestingly, although we are on different ends of the political spectrum, I, too, have thought alot about tax cuts being the republican’s answer to every question. Here is what I think is going on . . . . . The conservatives are not stupid, but they are working towards a long term goal. It has been a long term strategy, from before Reagan until today, to dismantle all entitlements & all vesitges of the new deal.

    The only problem is that people like things like social security & medicare & will never willingly give them up at the ballot box. Here is how the GOP’s mantra of tax cuts as being the answer to everything comes into play. These social programs can only be gotten rid of by spending us into such a hole that there is literally no more money left. I truly believe that the GOP is crazy like a fox- An expensive War in Iraq while massively cutting taxes and proposing a new Medicare Prescription drug benefit & then giveng a trillion on a ‘bail out’ ? NO problem, it just hastens the bankruptcy of the hated federal governement by a few years.

    Grover Norquist & friends have called this ‘starving the beast’ & Naomi Klein calls it ‘disaster capitalism’ . . . It doesn’t matter what it is called because it is happening each & every day. The country & the administration have been running up these massive debts & deficits because that is the whole name of the game- They are bankrupting the country on purpose beacuse it is the only way to acheive their ideological goal . . . .

  2. Fight Fight Fight Fight, it ain’t over until November 4th. Get your folks out to vote.

    Make those phone calls, visit your friends (not just email, but that helps too). I received a phone call from an individual yesterday, who is active in the Dem Party, said he voted for me because I asked for his vote.

    Three weeks ago an girl I know from work came to my cube and indicated she had voted for me. She said, she was voting with three other friends. Before voting she was saying who she was voting for, her friends said “but he’s a Republican”. She then told them she knew who I was and my character. I ended up with four votes.

    Last month, I visited several A-A churches. The ministers gave me a few minutes to speak. When finishing they was resounding applause, and lots of comments when leaving.

    I believe we’re small minded and making a huge mistake by not reaching into areas we have never gone. You don’t get if you don’t ask.

  3. John Konop says:

    The real question is will the GOP find conservative roots again and control the non-tolerant religious right?

    OLD PLATFORM

    Fiscal conservative policy ie no tax cuts or spending without the money to pay for it.

    Foreign policy we are not the policemen of the world.

    Social issues the federal government should not be used for issues like gay marriage, euthanasia….. Also we must respect the privacy of the home not just on issues you agree with.

    The GOP must stop failed social engineering projects like No Child Left Behind and let the local government control it. The constitution does guarantee success only the right to vote out our local office holders if it is not working.

    The GOP must reach out to minorities and people of different religious beliefs not alienate them.

    This is just a start!

  4. Tinkerhell says:

    Been feeling the same way for a while now Icarus. I’d vote YES for a mandatory political IQ test to be able to vote at all. Too many people that have zero clue about anything except that a D or an R is after someone’s name, or that someone is black or not black. If everyone had to give some kind of idea that they understood even a 10th of what a candidate’s platform is then they can vote, otherwise… go home & watch some more reality TV. *sigh*

  5. debbie0040 says:

    The undecideds will break for McCain. At this stage in the game they know who they will vote for. They don’t want to be considered racist by not voting for Obama so they just say undecided. This is very unfair but that is the climate the mainstream media has made with all the talk about racism.

    rugby fan // Oct 26, 2008 at 11:19 pm

    PSU vs. FSU

    Mark my words.

    I think Alabama may have something to say about that!!! Roll Tide!!!!

  6. atlantaman says:

    A very good post, my sentiments exactly. I thought the first 20 minutes of Idiocracy were hilarious. Taking it a step further, I have a feeling someday people will be able to vote on their Playstation.

    I’m a fan of Stossel and here is a clip from a recent show he did on how some folks have a civic duty not to vote. The folks are straight out of Idiocracy, Rock Stars registering and telling morons who don’t have a clue what a US Senator is to vote. These kids haven’t the foggiest idea about the most elemental ideas of our government and yet they are all voting for Obama because Puffy told them they would die if they didn’t vote.

    http://abcnews.go.com/video/playerIndex?id=5990076

    Here is a radio interview from when Obama was a State Senator. It’s about as scary as it gets, a complete Marxist discussion on whether wealth distribution should be accomplished through the courts of legislatively. There is nothing taken out of context here, is just unbridled communism at it’s best.

  7. atlantaman says:

    John-

    How is the GOP supposed to “reach out” to minorities. Shouldn’t the party just have a platform for what is best for America and not try to develop goodie programs for particular groups of people?

  8. atlantaman says:

    I feeling a little scared not that it’s come to my attention Debbie and I are getting information from the same sources.

  9. Game Fan says:

    Debbie
    That’s great thanks. And as a reminder, here’s the Presidential oath of office:

    “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

  10. John Konop says:

    Atlantaman

    You assume most minorities are liberal. When I ran for office I spoke at an all Black church that had an event in DeKalb. Most of the voters were not in the 6th district but I was curios how a conservative message would work.

    I spoke about the issues with education ie NCLB and parent involvement. I spoke about the issues regarding immigration being used to drive down wages and drive up infrastructure cost. I spoke about out of control spending in Washington.

    On my panel of candidates I got the largest applause. Many Democrats came up to me in shock that a white Republican living in Cherokee county had such a warm welcome. In fact I have spoken in front of the Dems twice after I ran for office. The strange part is the rank and file supported what I had to say and the candidates argued with me most of the time.

    As you know I have been outspoken about the immigration before it was a big issue. Yet I have always done it in a respectful way. Also it has never been about race to me only the issue.

    The Muslim attacks by people like Debbie only helped Obama and hurt the GOP. I am just a business guy who does not see the world as black or white. And I do business deals and manage people all day I do not agree with politically. And in fact I have many good friends I do not agree with on many issues.

  11. rugby fan says:

    “The undecideds will break for McCain. At this stage in the game they know who they will vote for.”

    McCain will still lose if that is the case. Obama is leading by +10 nationally and has 264 EC votes locked up and has close to 100 leaning his way. Most importantly, when the economy tanked, it was over for McCain, even if he had run a perfect campaign.

    Give it up debbie, this race is done.

    As for Bama, FSU just needs to win the ACC (which will happen) and have Bama lose for FSU to make it to the big game. Gotta love the BCS!

  12. LoyaltyIsMyHonor says:

    I do believe that in retrospect, Norm Coleman would have been a better pick for McCain than Palin. Palin is an empty suit, which we already have in the White House. As much as most people on these boards despise northern Republicans and so-called Independents on this forum, many of them can relate to Coleman much more easily.

    Of course, beyond that, the Christain Right really has pushed a lot of moderate Republicans (Whatever that means) away from the party.

    “When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.”

    It’s not the end of the world, I still remember ’88 when Dukakis got crushed and everyone felt that the Democratic Party was finshed. So don’t be so down Icarus, take a nice peaceful drive through DeKalb. 😉

  13. IndyInjun says:

    My discussions with GOP activists indicates that they have no idea what the stated principles of their party are – none whatsoever. When the former chairman of the party in a major metro area finds the his own party platform unrecognizable, how is he any different than an Obama voter voting on race, or a Palin voter who likes her glasses?

    I feel your pain……really!

    Parties are social clubs and a LOT of activists are there because they are looking for a juicy contract, job, or other pork.

    The rest of us get sick and drop out of the process.

  14. Doug Deal says:

    Indy,

    Your last assessment of political parties was spot on. Too many people looking to further some personal interest who basically tell the people there for some greater good (like the best interests of the country) to get lost.

  15. John Konop says:

    Indy and Doug

    KEEP UP THE FIGHT!

    I do think most people have the right intentions when they join a party. The problem is when the party is more about blind support and winning.

    I have recruited people and fostered an atmosphere to challenge process or ideas if they are not right. It seems parties tend not to reexamine itself unless they become out of any real power. Many companies are not much different in that they do not re-focus unless they have real issues.

    At the end the GOP must understand the problem is not the Democrat it is the party. The GOP must focus on real issues to get back in the game.

    As far as the lobbyist money changers in Washington they will only shift the money. The question is when will Americans wake up? Are officeholders are only a reflection of what most people want. And the truth is too many on all sides want the free lunch program!

    At the end of your life will anyone really care how many cars you have or what neighborhood you live in? What really maters is what type of spouse, parent and neighbor you are.

  16. Progressive Dem says:

    Hey Icarus,

    How does that Palin pick look now?

    The GOP is lost at sea. The party faithful are pointing fingers just before they jump ship. There is going to be one hell of a knife fight coming.

  17. Icarus says:

    PD,

    I don’t blame any of this on the Palin pick. I blame the polls on a few trillion gone from the Dow.

    As for the situation of the party, it’s pretty common when you’re in the process of having your ass handed to you. You guys are pretty familiar with the routine from the last few cycles.

  18. Progressive Dem says:

    Plenty blame Palin and the corollary McCain for picking her. Tom Ridge could have helped in Pa where McCain has heavily invested and going nowhere. Palin is so obviously unprepared that undecideds are turned off.

    McCain and the GOP are not just victims of the financial crisis. McCain’s performance in light of the crisis was awful. Moreover, a party that has fully embraced deregulation doesn’t look very prepared to restore financial order.

  19. Donkey Kong says:

    Indy,

    The difference is you go the complete opposite of your “values” and vote for Obama and the Democrats. That’s surrender.

  20. Donkey Kong says:

    Great post, Icarus.

    I’m conservative first, Republican second. I’ve been very down about the state of our Party. McCain doesn’t get it; Boehner doesn’t get it; I don’t think Coburn gets it.

    Icarus, here is what conservatism is to me. I hope it offers a glimmer of hope.

    Conservatism is a philosophy. At its root is an understanding of the nature of things. Read great conservative writers such as Russell Kirk and the questions of the nature of man and the laws that govern the universe are not side musings but fundamental questions. To understand the proper role of government requires a knowledge of the man that is being governed, and the man that is governing. So the question is, who and what is man? And, there are certain laws that govern the world – what are they and what is their source? These questions are not being asked today, but a government system that is not based on the real nature of that which it is governing can never be good.

    Conservatism is founded on the nature of things — the reason old conservatives use (and actually understand) the mantra of “don’t immanentize the eschaton” is that we realize that certain things cannot be achieved in this world, and harm comes from trying.

    Conservatism is based on the fallibility of man, the need for checks against his sinful nature, and the understanding and recognition of a greater power whose laws govern the universe and the hearts of mankind. Some of you look at this and say its too religious, but read the writings of the great Conservative thinkers and its unavoidable (Buckley, Kirk, etc.). But this isn’t about “church” or “religion.” It’s about the nature of man.

    Conservatism is about the need for both individuality and community. Rather than the forced community that liberals promote, conservatives believe that the best community is the voluntary one, where individuals and their families contribute on their own free volition.

    Conservatism is about responsibility, both individually and corporately (e.g. communally). Responsibility is not something to be eschewed, but is a blessing and should be craved. Conservatives understand that responsibility is the foreground to real progress – all decisions have consequences, and those who make the decisions are the ones who should bear the brunt of those consequences. Conservatives believe that this is not only fair, but leads to the best decision-making within a society at large.

    Conservatism believes that, unlike Randian individualism, self-sacrifice for the sake of others is an honor and a duty. Methods of “forced sacrifice” such as government-mandated wealth redistribution is not honorable but disgraceful, and on multiple levels. It’s disgraceful that the government takes property from one and gives to another; it’s disgraceful that the needs of some in our society are not being met through charitable efforts; and it’s disgraceful that many take advantage of the forced redistribution to avoid work.

    This is just a beginning. Icarus, you may have some gray hair, but I don’t, and hopefully not for a long time. I just hope that mine are hard-earned, as I’m sure yours are as well.

  21. Rick Day says:

    I almost feel sorry for you guys.

    Then I look around at the wreck that used to be the USA.

    And the sympathy fades. Like my voice in your wilderness, it fades away…..

    Icarus, I do not know you, other than your words here. Its about time you woke up.

    It is like half the country went to sleep in 2000, and now, in 2008, are awakened by the sound of BAILOUT! and, at long last, appalled at what has developed from their false belief in the two party system.

    Welcome to my nightmare.

  22. IndyInjun says:

    Rick Day,

    The bailout was a direct attack on all responsible citizens and destroyed the last fragile thread that good citizens had with this government.

    Icarus, Farris, et al should be contratulated for identifying the theft as what it is.
    .
    What this election is about is voting for a robber of everyone’s futures versus a liberal who has yet to PROVE that he is a danger to the people’s welfare.

    This is almost more than GOPers can bear.

    What is about to be revealed about 401K “safe” investment choices across the USA will make most sane voters absolutely distraught if they have voted for Saxby and the other tools of Wall Street.

  23. Bill Simon says:

    Indy,

    “versus a liberal who has yet to PROVE that he is a danger to the people’s welfare.”

    By the time that PROOF is apparent, it will be too late.

    But, hey, just you keep thinking those wolves wandering around outside your chicken coop won’t crash through the door and consume everything in sight.

  24. IndyInjun says:

    Bill S.

    Saxby is devouring my savings right now. I believe in shooting the beast, figuring that the others will “get religion.”

  25. Bill Simon says:

    Indy,

    No, your “savings” are either in a bank account/stock market account, or YOU are devouring your savings.

    The market didn’t fall because of Saxby economics…it fell because of the anticipation of Obama economics.

  26. Bill Simon says:

    No more “spurious” than YOU blaming Bush and the GOP for the recession right now.

    Because…had you actually ever taken a course in basic economics, you would have learned that there is a cycle to capitalistic economies: growth-slowdown-contraction….repeat every 7-9 years.

  27. IndyInjun says:

    Lessee, now.

    There would have been a recession in 2001, but Greenspan lowered interest rates to 1%, igniting a real estate bubble. On the fiscal side Bush doubled the debt in two terms, borrowing more than all predecessors combined and spending the money through deficits borrowed from the Chinese.

    Bush and company delayed the recession, so NOW we are getting the mother of all recessions.

    So, yeah – kind of – it was Clinton’s recession delayed for 8 years by Bush.

    Happy?

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