Ian Bicking: the old part of his blog

No silver lining, but maybe a positive note...

Well, we all know why November 2 was so disappointing. Or, at least you know why it was disappointing to me and so many others. But, after moping around for a couple days, here's my attempt at positivity.

One lesson from the election: facts and policy and reason don't mean anything. The demographics which voted for Bush didn't particularly benefit from Bush's policies. They tended to be misinformed about the world around them. But it's not like they didn't have the opportunity to be informed, so just providing more information isn't going to change this.

What's the upside? Well, if it's not about facts and policy, suddenly we're freed up a bit more. There's been this race to the center - thinking if we can just cut even closer down the center, then somehow the majority will end up on the Democratic side. Bush is obviously a counter argument, as he's far to the right. But more generally, when facts and policy don't matter, there's nothing to be won in the center. (Of course, a linear left/right is a convenient simplification in itself, but that's a separate topic.)

So maybe, instead of trying to slow the tide of conservatism, people will have the guts to move in a more progressive, not just reactionary direction. That won't solve anything, but it won't hurt either. Enough of Clinton's Third Way. (And on the topic of Third Way - we failed in the US, Australians failed to dump Howard, at least can you Brits get rid of Blair already? Can we get just a little accountability somewhere?)

We need to find a new direction in the culture war. Cool won't do it; it's too exclusive, it's already alienated many people, and alienation is part of the essence of cool. It can't just be about Hollywood. Apparently Will and Grace hasn't made America much more tolerant. Can we find something else? Maybe a distrust and even hatred of corporations? There's a wealth of cultural material there. Or maybe there's something else.

Christianity has its own role in all this. That's disappointing. Jesus wouldn't have been happy with Bush. Still, there's some real potential there as well. There's too many ministers who take after Cotton Mather, and not enough that take after Martin Luther King. More attention to this, and a hell of a lot less of this.

I'll probably stop posting much about this soon; not that I feel bad about posting, but I feel a need to withdraw from news some. News serves little purpose. But I'll be looking out for good ideas.

Created 05 Nov '04
Modified 14 Dec '04


Good start, you didn't call your opponents "enemies" (too much enemy talk around these days).
You won't believe it, but the uninformed voter study was a setup. The common wisdom is that less than 10% of people are news & policy junkies. Everyone else knows about the one or two issues that matter to them most. So if you don't know and someone asks you if Kerry/Bush (who you think well of) supports a treaty (treaties sound like good things) you answer yes. If you ask about treaties that Kerry supports but Bush doesn't you get the result in the study (all ignorant voters say yes, but only the Kerry ones are correct). Some control questions about real sounding but made up events would go a long way to measuring that kind of error. More questions that ignorant Kerry voters would guess wrongly on wouldn't hurt either.

You make a mistake that pro-Bush people don't believe in issues. That they don't have a "hatred of corporations" might strike you as absurd but you can't conclude from that they have no opinions. They just don't share yours. You seem to think that because they share none of your opinions they must not have thought about anything at all. Looking down on those voters isn't going to pick you up any votes in the next election. The zoo mentality ("let's go to the foreign land called Alabama and observe the natives") comes off as pandering or condecension, not understanding.

I do hope the Democrats get their stuff together (I think they will, because they have to). The worst thing that could happen is that the leftmost part of the party seizes power and the Republicans have an even bigger lock on power for the next ten years. Whenever that happens (with either party) you get incumbent politicians that just do whatever they like (spending my money to do it) without fear of losing their seat. The Republicans hit their nadir with Goldwater and it took 40 years for the pendulum to swing the other way. (The "Goldwater Moment" is now looked on fondly as the point Repubs woke up and got their collective stuff together, but if I was alive then I don't think I'd be happy with taking a beating and having to spend 20 years building infrastructure).
# Jack Diederich

This might be a solution:


Except all the nuke silos are in "red" states.
# Mike Watkins

Wow, people act fast!

# Mike Watkins

All good links, but the more I read, the more I'm ashamed to be an American.

If the planet has not blown up in 4 years, maybe we'll FINALLY figure out how evil corporations are, how much of our civil liberties have been lost in the name of security, and how ridiculous, pompous, and arrogant we seem to the rest of the world.

Maybe we'll figure it out, but I doubt it.

# dimator

Jack: I'm not going to respect the Bush supporters' world view. I could go into why, I could go to great length to talk about why they are misinformed and are unintentionally voting against their beliefs, but it's kind of a moot point. Those people are not my enemies (though the Republican insiders are), and I don't think they are stupid, but they are being manipulated, and they bare some of the blame for that. And anyway, I'm not a public figure, so it doesn't matter if I pander or condescend, I'm not a figurehead, I'm not even a decision maker, and if these ideas mean anything it's only because they spark some interest among like-minded people. I don't have to be polite to the opposition, there's no real point to it.

As far as the anti-corporate sentiment... well, that's an area where there's potential, an untapped belief system that I sense in our society, but it has few outlets. And certainly no outlets that are accessible to Red State Americans; I don't expect these people to become anarchists and live in collectives and protest WTO meetings. But I think the sentiment is there, but with few groups willing to tap it. The Democrats aren't going to do it, at least not as they are now. But it could still happen, and it could be powerful. For all the people who value humans above institutions, it could be very powerful.
# Ian Bicking

"... at least can you Brits get rid of Blair already?"

Just not going to happen I'm afraid - there's no credible opposition! The conservatives are a lousy option, and the liberal democrats are too small to get a large enough swing to win an election. The best we can hope for is that the liberal democrats overtake the conservatives as the second largest party and start putting on a decent opposition.
# Simon Willison

I agree with your statement that Jesus wouldn't have been happy with Bush. He has done many things against the teachings of Christ. Still, he was pro-life and he did something about it (partial birth abortion bill) and so he got my vote. These elections usually are a vote for the lesser of two evils (with each person voting according to their own conscience).

However, I think ministers would set their sites too low if they were to set their goals on emulating Martin Luther King. He was a great man and is to be honored for his message of peace and the work he did. But better yet, why not Martin Luther? I can think of few better people to emulate in we're to make a better tomorrow. Neither a Democrat or a Republican, and a very well educated man, as I hear. Wouldn't you agree?

# Perry

Previously George Bush was a war monger. Now we're all war mongers...
# culley

You aren't going to get anywhere so long as you claim that Bush's supporters vote against their own interests (implying that they are morons). Accept the reality - viewpoints other than your own just may have some validity. Depart the echo chamber, and read some of what you rpolitical opponents think...
# James Robertson

James: I'm not a diplomat. The election is over, there is no point in trying to convince Bush supporters of anything. I know what my opponents think, and they are wrong, but I don't expect explanations to matter. People determine their axiomatic beliefs, then they look for supporting evidence. The right has framed the discussion so that axiomatic beliefs are aligned with their own, focusing on the small overlaps they can find.

Perry: the total number of abortions have gone up under Bush. Yep, he's doing a great job.
# Ian Bicking

They have gone up, you're right. America is still composed of people who are agents of free will and abortion is still legal. However, when abortion is illegal, they will go down.

Now, making abortion illegal only treats the symptom, albeit a very devestating one, and not the root cause of the problem. Abortion is just a symptom of the real problems - selfishness and irresponsibility. How to change that? Well, that kind of change a person can only experience by placing one's faith in Jesus Christ as savior. And that experience can only be through free will. It cannot - it must not be forced upon anyone. Well, it just can't be forced on anyone, just won't work.

So, Bush can only accomplish so much in the realm of the unborn, but I'm confident he's the best (only?) candidate for legislative reform where abortion is concerned.

Do you disagree on that point?

# Perry

A serious question to Perry:

As a pro-life supporter, are you willing to bear the cost of childcare and health insurance for some large portion of the ~1.3 million new children that will be born every year as a result of making abortions illegal? Is there a way to work out a system that allows me to not bear that cost?

Just trying to understand.
# Chris McDonough

Bush isn't going to make abortion illegal, he'll just keep the legal harrassment up. He's just a flirt, he wants your vote, but he can't do anything very substantive. If you want to decrease the number of abortions, you either have to improve birth control, or change our culture. Good luck on the culture thing.

Bush has been bad at improving birth control. His abstinence-based programs, for one: they don't increase abstinence, and actively lie to youth about basic sex education (for instance, slandering the effectiveness of condoms). The people behind these programs are just plain liars. I'm sure they think they are doing the right thing, that it's better to lie to youth to scare them straight. I disagree with that on principle, but from a practical point of view it has also failed.
# Ian Bicking

So, someone votes for Bush because he is against abortions, but he is also the one who made a war against Iraq and killed a lot of people and a lot of kids. I think I am pro-life in being against wars not abortion.
But maybe the war was better than the embargo with had already killed a lot of children because they couldn't get medicine and food.

Just my R$ 0,02 Real
# Leonardo Santagada