Tuesday, March 16, 2010

High Intensity Lunch

We went out to lunch this weekend with another couple and over corned beef hash and tuna (not on the same plates) we took a meandering walk though the disaffection and anxiety that permeates our lives these days. They used to own an apartment in Manhattan but were essentially forced out by the influx of petulant arrivistes who demanded modern and expensive additions to the cooperatively owned apartment building. Perhaps too the Manhattan couple just decided it was time to move and seek a warmer climate. They came to Key West, while keeping their summer home in that other gay haven (I'm told) Provincetown on Cape Cod, a place I have never been but may be Key West In The Cold.

Because we were all four of us disaffected Democrats the conversation soon drifted into politics and the shared frustration of seeing Congress and the White House waste every opportunity to get something done. Van suggested a new line to me that I had not previously considered. He blames Dear Leader's sidekick Rahm Emmanuel for driving the Democrat Party to run candidates against vulnerable Republicans to the degree that yes, they won a huge majority, but at the expense of party purity. Now the Democrat controlled Congress is riddled with centrist Democrats who owe their election to disaffected Republicans and middle-of-the-road policies are what they support. Thus the super majorities we see are in fact tenuous coalitions of the not so terribly willing. I found this theory intriguing, one that explains in part the total inaction of our Democrat majority. "He's a one term President," Philip muttered, shaking his head sadly.

I don't see things in the Republican Party going swimmingly either. On the one hand the ever present threat of Sarah Palin, beauty queen, becoming the first woman president seems like it could be a concern, but to my way of thinking she is just too uninformed to make it anywhere close. I could be wrong, but I think she is phenomenon that will fade. I have also seen Mitt Romney's name put forward as the best hope for the Republican Party. Van had some choice comments about Romney's hard fought failed opposition to Massachusetts' universal health care reform which became loud support when it suited his political interests. However on the subject of Romney for President history generally does not generally shed a favorable light on a failed candidate who tries again (Richard Nixon notwithstanding!).

The lunch conversation persuaded me to consider the broader political field not least because they were muttering about emigration being the only answer, a grumble I carry deep within me some days. So look with hope to the Independents and we fall flat on our faces. Tea Party adherents, with their flag flown by the Palin aforementioned are not, despite the best efforts of their supporters to portray them so, a broad based movement of disaffected people. They are right wingers, and a magnet for every wacko conspiracy the right wing is peddling these days, and there are lots of them. The Liberty Party seems like it is Libertarianism in a more formal setting and while I like plenty of the philosophy, a party that eschews universal health coverage on the spurious grounds of party political principle won't get my support.

On the left we have the infant Coffee Party which will presumably collapse when the Tea Party does the same. I wanted to attend the Coffee Party gathering in Key West last weekend but could not which was disappointing. I will be interested to see if they can do more than simply become a grab bag of interesting ideas. The good old Green stand by is off the map. I supported the Greens for a while in California but their meetings requiring consensus on all things were worse even than the Democrats as far as getting anything done.

In the end we seem to be stuck with the Republicrats, people entrenched in the system and bought by the powerful. How to make them change is anyone's guess. Some people like term limits which I think simply kill off institutional memory and empower the entrenched bureaucrats. Others like me like public financing of elections, an idea abhorrent to the right and interestingly to our elected officials. You'd think that would be a hint...And so it goes. I am fresh out of ideas and perhaps by the next time we get together for lunch, the solution to the party political problem will be apparent to one of us. That would be an interesting meal. To clear the sour taste from my mouth I ordered a slice of berry cheesecake to share before my wife could protest. Ending on a high note as always at Square Grouper.


Danette said...

Here's an article by Lawrence Lessig I thought you might appreciate who is also building a movement. It may have more umph to it than the Coffee party and wind up providing an outlet for real change because it will stir up more than just a little pushback to the corporations, I think.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Anonymous said...

There is a theory that suggests some entities simply get too big to govern, manage, or rule. The theory has been applied to national governments, corporations, social organizations etc.. Perhaps we and others have reached that point where old fashioned rational free flowing democratic problem solving is no longer possible. And no I'm not suggesting a totalitarian state, just lowered expectations given the circumstances.

Singing to Jeffrey's Tune said...

I will agree there is a cognitive disconnect between free flow of ideas and their democratic governance.

A thought occurred to me, there used to be many political parties in the American landscape. Where did they go, and why? Secondly, if the politicians are bought off so easily by lobbyist, why have they not created a party of their own that is easier to control? My only thought is path of least resistance. Obviously you cannot run this in the open.

As for Obama - I think he will be a one hit wonder as stated. The jokes are already here - the "Black Jimmy Carter", etc.

So, again I question. Now that you have begun debate, what is the next step to get to "change"? Driving people to polls to change the elected officials didn't work. It only changed the elected officials.

Mmmm berry cheesecake, now that is a political debate I could get into.

Conchscooter said...

In giving up on this state of affairs the comment I heard from a friend was that the US is just too large to govern. It's like a large ship loaded with 300 million opinions and is just too cumbersome to change course easily. Perhaps there's a nugget of truth in that.
Jeffrey: the political parties are still there they just don't get air time and thus funding. I used to vote Peace and Freedom in California. Distributing public funds (x number of dollars from subtracted from your taxes, not an addition to your taxes) and distirbuted equally between any candiddates with x number of signatures on theior applicatrion to run for office would spread the wealth. Ten viable candidates for a congressional seat would produce some interesting debates!Corproations would be the losers so it will never happen.

Anonymous said...

Corporations CAN loose. Just don't buy their goods/services. If your ideals are consistent with others, they go away.

Anonymous said...

What words..