Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Politics of a Flame-Thrower

I might as well let you readers know right up front what my politics are, so that, if I'm likely to make you angry, you can stop reading now and find other blogs that you'll be more likely to approve of. I don't care to make people angry; I'd rather you went off and enjoyed a peaceful nap. But I am often angry myself--at the cynical politicians, at the ignorant electorate, at the kneejerk pundits.

Perhaps I can best sum up my politics this way: I stand to the left of Barack Obama, to the left of Hillary Clinton, usually even to the left of Russ Feingold, Dennis Kucinich, Barney Frank, and Bernie Sanders. If you don't know who the last four people are, you need to brush up on your current events. More on some of my positions in a bit.

I have little respect for conservative politicians; they have, forever, voted to keep the powerful powerful and the rich rich, and to help the powerful and the rich exploit the weak and the poor. Over the last century, conservatives have voted against right-to-unionize laws, against Social Security, against Medicare, against the Civil Rights Act, against the Environmental Protection Act, against occupational-safety laws, against consumer protection laws, against the American Disabilities Act, and against bank regulation. As my favorite economist, Paul Krugman, says, today's conservatives would like nothing better than to return to the Gilded Age, before unions, before the income tax, to the days of scrip and the company store. If you don't know what scrip and the company store are, you need to brush up on your history. (I do have some disagreements with Krugman about President Obama, whom I like a lot. More on that in future posts.)

So I don't care for conservatives, except for George Will and David Brooks, whom I like. I also liked William F. Buckley and Barry Goldwater, both honorable men. I would enjoy having dinner with Will, Brooks, or Buckley. On the other hand, I would be tempted to spit in John Boehner's food and knock Jim DeMint's wine in his lap. I think the Tea Party is made up of ignorant shlubs being manipulated by behind-the-scenes millionaires like the Koch brothers.

Here are just three of the things I believe that put me on the burning left edge of left-wing opinion:
  • that all gods, capitalized or otherwise, should be taken off our money and that our children should not be pressured to say a little nazi-like loyalty oath each morning in public schools--especially one that contains the words "under God."
  • that the country would be better off with a constitutional amendment mandating a maximum wage: i.e., no one in the country would be allowed to make more than 100 times more money than a minimum-wage worker who works a 40-hour week. If a minimum-wage worker earns $15,000 per year, no one--not the bankers with their bonuses, not Bill Gates (whom I like)--would be permitted to earn more than $1.5 million. Watch how fast the minimum wage would go up if that were enacted!
  • that no one in a courtroom should ever be required to stand when a judge enters; this is an infuriating vestige of European and British class rule, when commoners had to kneel (or stand) before lords and kings. The judge may represent the judicial system, but the defendant represents the public; as a "public servant," the judge, if anything, should be required to stand when the defendant and the spectators enter the courtroom.
Those are three of my more, shall we way, entertaining political positions. Having listed them, let me say that I have no hopes of them ever being made law in my lifetime. I am, after all, a realist.

Which is why I still like Barack Obama, whereas many of my left-wing friends have abandoned him. While he has not always pursued policies that I think would be best (national health care, withdrawal from Afghanistan, a rise in the tax rates of everyone who owns two tv sets), I think he has done the best he can, given that he's dealing with a cynical, monolithic Republican Party, a cowardly Democratic Party, anachronistic Senate rules, and an ignorant electorate. Oh, yes, I'm also a pointy-headed Ivy League elitist.

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