Alarming News: I like Morgan Freeberg. A lot.
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler: We were following a trackback and thinking "hmmm... this is a bloody excellent post!", and then we realized that it was just part III of, well, three...Damn. I wish I'd written those.
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler: ...I just remembered that I found a new blog a short while ago, House of Eratosthenes, that I really like. I like his common sense approach and his curiosity when it comes to why people believe what they believe rather than just what they believe.
Brutally Honest: Morgan Freeberg is an intriguing guy...[he] asks great questions and answers others with style, flair, reason and wit. On the blogroll he goes. Make him a part of your regular blogospheric reading. I certainly will.
Brutally Honest: Morgan Freeberg is brilliant.
Common Sense Junction: Misha @ Anti-Idiotarian never ceases to amaze me. He keeps finding other good blogs. I went over to A.I. this morning for my daily Misha fix and he had found this guy named Morgan Freeberg in Fair Oaks, California, that has a blog, House of Eratosthenes. Freeberg says its "The Blog That Nobody Reads" but it may now become the blog that everybody reads.
Jaded Haven: Good God, Morgan, you cover a topic from front to back with a screwy thoroughness I find mind boggling. I'm in awe of your thought proccesses, my friend, you're an exceptional talent. You start by throwing in the kitchen sink, tie in someone's syphilitic uncle, bend around a rip tide of brilliance and bring it all home in a neat, diamond dripping package of an exceptionally readable moment of damn fine wordsmithing. I love reading you.
Mein Blogovault: Make "the Blog that No One Reads" one of your daily reads.
Philmon: When Morgan meanders, stick with him - he's got a point and it'll be worth it in the end. He's not a hit-and-run snarky quip kind of guy. The pieces all fall into place like tumblers in a lock and bang! He's opened a cognative door for you.
Rightlinx: Morgan at House of Eratosthenes is one of the best writers out there. I read him nearly every day because he manages to provide an interesting perspective, even though I don't always agree.
Poetic Justice: Cletus! Ah gots a laiv one fer yew...
Every now and then a state holds a primary, and I hear of concerns about “voter turnout.” It’s too low. I see and hear about people voting who I don’t think have taken the time to educate themselves about what’s going on and what the President would be able to do about it, so I’m not so sure low voter turnout is a bad thing. But if it’s been plummeting in recent years and this really is a problem, I think I have an explanation.
It’s the two-party system. It’s not that it’s too important to us, it’s that it has ceased to be. America’s two-party system has been secretly replaced. Back in the olden days, those hated partisan “R versus D” days, people voted just fine & dandy.
The dirty little secret about the 2008 elections is that we aren’t voting on Republicans versus Democrats. We aren’t voting on positions on the issues. We’re voting on what exactly a candidate is supposed to be selling us, in order to get our vote. We are, in effect, voting on how the process is supposed to work. The process…that comes to an end in the first week of November. What we want to have happen once the candidate is sworn in, is something that isn’t on the minds of very many people anymore.
It’s kind of like picking numbers in a lottery in which you don’t win anything. You wouldn’t miss an old re-run for that, would you…no, you wouldn’t. So it’s no wonder voter turnout is low.
You can hear it in the candidates’ names, when discussed by those who have made the decision to vote for them. Nobody is ready to support Barack Obama; instead, they think the best choice is Barack Obaaaaaaaaaaaama. And Ron Paaaaaaaaaaaul. In the discussion that ensues, and boy howdee, these people will make damn good and sure it will ensue indeed, we are regaled with glorious descriptions about the Chosen One’s position on…one issue. Maybe two. And there is passion there. A pet peeve. A bug up the butt.
If we undertake to pepper this supporter with questions about the Chosen One’s position on five or six other issues, it won’t take long, here it comes…that look. The deer-in-headlights look. And then that wonderful intonation that we should “go to his/her website to find out about that.”
Okay, so those among us who nurture the greatest passion — even they don’t know what they’re going to get out of this deal.
I think we’d all be healthier upstairs if we chose now as the time to admit, with some of these candidates, it isn’t about the issues. It’s about the name. These aren’t really even “supporters” — these people would be more appropriately and accurately described as “fans.” They have chosen an identity for themselves, and the identity is that they want to vote for this person. That’s why one of these names, a name we have been hearing for sixteen years now, is now pronounced Cliiiiiiiiiinton.
Say Hello to 2008: Year of the “Rock Star” candidate. What would he/she do in this situation? Who knows? Who cares? All I care about, and all you should care about, is that there won’t be a name change any time soon. I’m on the bandwagon and you should be too.
There are other candidates selling something different — they aren’t selling their names. There really is no “McCain” phenomenon taking place and there is no such thing as “Romneymania.” These candidates are, indeed, position-based — just as our most lukewarm candidates have always been. These are the poll-driven. They sell the readiness, willingness and ability to betray with grace.
This is the classic politician who has to look around and see who is in the room before he announces his position on something. From time to time, if you pay attention you can see him waffling, but he’ll always deny waffling. His statements are always taken out of context. He constantly thinks ahead to the general elections. He’s a wonderful unprincipled centrist. During primary season he is “The Democrat Who Can Beat (blank),” insert the name of a Republican for (blank), or he’s “The Republican Who Can Beat (blank),” insert name of democrat. Positions? His position on each issue is whatever is going to win.
He wins by “reaching across the aisle,” as they call it. If he’s chosen carefully, he’ll give up the fight on some positions that don’t matter. Sell off some acres nobody really wants. The party-faithful will look at his acquiescence and, he hopes, say to themselves “well, I can live with that.”
The True Believer is the kind we all say we want, the guy who doesn’t vacillate. Positions driven by principles. And I’m afraid that the presidential campaign season in the United States has become a rather unhealthy ritual of weeding these guys out.
How did we get here? The process has the look of legitimacy about it, because True Believers tend to be ideological extremists. John Edwards is a wonderful example of this. Yes, he’s a lawyer who gets rich off of questionable lawsuits against medical insurance companies, and that sounds pretty unprincipled, but he does have principles. He’s been consistent about them. He wants to punish rich people for the “crime” of being rich — except for him and people he knows. He wants two different rules in place insofar as whether we put up with rich people, and he’s always been consistent about this. But he doesn’t really have a shot. And so his party needs to eliminate him and people like him, so they can think about candidates more likely to attract broad support.
The Primary Season is, among other things, a bunch of state conventions in which the party faithful calculate who’s got the best shot at prevailing in a general election. But, of course, there are other considerations mixed in as well. There is that “Press Vote” that is so coveted. The People may love your party’s candidate to death, but it’ll all be an uphill battle if the newspapers don’t love him too. Why go through the ordeal if you don’t have to?
So to the extent the two-party system still exists, during Presidential election campaigns it exists in the form of organizations, not in the form of the left-wing or the right-wing. Certainly not in the form of principles. It is somewhat like…I would say it is exactly like…television networks putting things on the teevee in competition for Nielsen ratings.
This one produces two comedies and one drama, that one produces two dramas and one comedy. Everybody wants to be able to say they watched a documentary, but nobody does.
Deep down, we all understand after somebody is sworn in and after the hand is taken off the Bible, we’re all going to have to live with how this person was chosen. This is, probably, more important than the organization that produced this President — more important than the “R” or “D” that comes after the name.
Yes, sure, every now and then you’ll read a snarky editorial about how our new President “was elected on a platform of” — and then a snide comment or two about how the mandate isn’t being carried out.
But we also understand deep down this won’t matter very much. The wafflers, once elected, are elected on the ability to waffle. So they can carry out whatever mandate they want. They are professional negotiators.
The Rock Stars are even worse, because they aren’t elected on any position at all. In negotiations, they are elected not to compromise, but to triumph. That’s why their last names are draaaaaawn out by their supporters, or rather, by their “fans.” They aren’t there to do anything; they’re there to simply be. Everybody likes to be associated with a winner. Even a “winner” who doesn’t really have a shot, like Ron Paul. Ron Paul supporters are social creatures; their support for the Congressman is simply an on-ramp to a conversation they would like to dominate. Our country gives too much support to The Joos, Iraq is an illegal and unjust war, nine eleven was an inside job, we need to get back to the Konstitewshun.
So those are the three products being sold — the three genres produced by our “networks.” The rock star, the waffler, the True Believer.
The True Believers are going to be going bye-bye in the months ahead. This is a bad thing. I don’t say that because my guy Fred is one of them…although I do think that’s bad. No, just in general, True Believers are the only ones who are tied down. A brand-new situation comes up and you send a True Believer in to represent you, you at least know what he’s going to do.
Those rock star guys and those waffler guys…you don’t know. You aren’t supposed to know. The burden is on us to think of every little pain-in-the-ass issue that might conceivably come up, before the election, and preferably before the conventions.
So this isn’t a process of culling extremists from the herd. We’re eliminating the ones that have our real confidence when they make important decisions.
In other words, we are becoming acclimated to voting for things other than principles. Principles have become passé. We want slick salesmanship. With a big glittery name…without the name, and a big sparkling smile instead — that’s just as good. Once Fred Thompson is eliminated from the pool, the transformation will be complete.
And that’ll be a real shame.
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