6 Political Talking Points that Need to Die
In modern politics, there are certain arguments that I'm really sick of hearing. Unfortunately, they keep cropping up and raising my blood pressure. Some of these arguments have only been around for a little while now, but others have been around for centuries or more. Common sense should tell us that these arguments are stupid, and yet people keep making them, which means that there are people out there who are actually being swayed.
The Economy is Simple
|So easy, a caveman can do it|
We all know that the economy is in bad shape and unemployment is ridiculously high. Politicians urge us to blame specific things for this (too much or too little regulation, usually) and offer us simple solutions that could work if only more unsavory politicians wouldn't stand in the way. The unstated major premise here is that the economy is simple and easy to control. Therefore, when things go bad, we can pinpoint exactly what the cause is and then solve it with simple steps.
This is, of course, a big, fat, steaming pile of raw sewage. The economy is wildly complex and responds to millions of different factors. Not only is it ludicrous to try to blame a single thing for a recession, it is ludicrous to even assume that the economy works the way academics and theorists tell us it does. I'm not interested in debating the merits of the Austrian school versus Keynesian economics, but one thing I do know is this: anybody who tells you they perfectly understand the economy is lying.
So when politicians come forth and argue that they know how to fix it, they are most likely also lying, usually in an effort to pass some cherished legislation under the guise that it will do something to an unweildly economy. It is also completely unfair to blame politicians for the state of the economy, when in reality, the government--by design--has very little control over it. Seriously, look up the definition of capitalism. Sure, you can argue that the stimulus packages and government bail-outs are a bad idea or that they might give temporary help to businesses floundering under recession, but at the end of the day, what the government does will neither permanently fix nor greatly prolong what is happening in the marketplace.
This election year is certain to be all about jobs and the economy, so keep in mind that, whenever politicians or pundits start talking about it, it's all just meaningless spin designed to scare you into voting for them.
The Minority Party is "the Party of No"
|Damn Republicans, saying "no" to Bob all the time!|
One of the founding principles of our government is the idea of checks and balances. No one part of the government is supposed to have ultimate control over another while each part is answerable to the others. While the Constitution has nothing to say about political parties or partisan politics (in fact, many of its founders were vehemently against the idea of political parties), this idea of checks and balances should, in modern America, extend to them. I'm not saying it should be mandated by law that there be a certain percentage of each party in each branch of the government, but we should certainly be able to respect the opinions of the minority. Indeed, the minority's purpose should be to keep the majority from exerting too much control. It shouldn't matter which political party is in power.
Indeed, Democratic leaders who now try to portray Republicans as the "Party of NO" might easily find themselves in the same position as the Republicans in a few years. Should we expect them to bow down complacently and accept everything a Republican majority will try to do? Of course not.
The enemy is extremism. Any political party (or branch of government), when given too much power, will take it too far and mess things up. The unavoidable, inevitable result of this is tyranny; absolute power corrupts absolutely. That's the nature of politics, and one of the beauties of our constitution is that it endeavors to keep things in moderation through the use of checks and balances.
Also, it is important to remember that we do not live in a true democracy. This is a representative democracy, because we always need to respect the rights and opinions of the minority. True democracy doesn't work, because the majority will always exert its power over the minority. Therefore, to argue that the minority is standing in the way of what the majority considers "progress" is to argue that our representative democracy is still working properly.
The Will of the People is Being Thwarted
|As we all know, the people are always reasonable and coherent|
Along the same lines, I'm sick of the argumentum ad populum. This is ironically coming more from the Republicans right now than the Democrats. Many are arguing that the Democrats are doing unpopular things and are therefore wrong. In a representative democracy, this argument is especially bad, because we elect our leaders to make difficult choices, regardless of how popular their decisions are.
There are numerous examples in current events, including the healthcare bill, the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque" (which is neither at ground zero nor is a mosque), the new Arizona immigration law, and more. When a California judge recently tried to overturn the gay marriage ban, for instance, one of the headlines on the ever-popular right-wing Drudge Report was "1 Judge Voids 7,000,000 Voters."
Look, just because something is unpopular, it doesn't mean it should be illegal. That's fascistic. The minority opinion should always be respected, regardless of what the majority thinks. More importantly, the minority's rights should not be overturn based on nothing more than popularity. Sure, the healthcare bill was shoved down our throats by politicians who arrogantly believed they knew better than the people, and because of that, many of them will probably be voted out of office and the bill--now a law--might not ever go into full effect. As far as I can tell, that's the government working the way it's supposed to.
However, when it comes to the Muslim community center being built two blocks from what's left of the World Trade Center and the California gay marriage ban, the arguments of the majority of Americans are wholly centered on a lack of respect for the minority. There is no way to forbid the building of the "Ground Zero Mosque" without infringing on the rights of the people who want to build it. There is also no way to dictate whether homosexuals have a right to marry without infringing upon their basic human rights. Certainly people have the right to peacefully protest these things, but that doesn't mean that something has to be done. America is built on tolerance, not bigotry.
-e. magill 8/24/2010