Pre-election Punditry

Dave Johnson has a column at Campaign for America’s Future today, responding to David Brooks column in the New York Times today. I didn’t read Brooks column. Johnson quotes the relevant passages, including:”…there’s a completely obvious agenda to create more middle-class, satisfying jobs. The federal government should borrow money at current interest rates to build infrastructure, including better bus networks so workers can get to distant jobs. The fact that the federal government has not passed major infrastructure legislation is mind-boggling, considering how much support there is from both parties.”

Johnson is infuriated that Brooks blames both parties, and goes on to give numerous examples of what anyone who has paid attention (and sadly, that is way too few of us) already knows—it is not both parties. In fact, Obama and the Democrats have tried again and again to do what Brooks suggests, only to be thwarted at every turn by Republican obstructionism. And no, David Brooks isn’t that dumb. He knows this. He is simply playing politics. There is an election in a couple weeks, after all. Claiming both parties are responsible is simply his two cents to suppress the democratic vote. After all, if the center right god says there is no difference between the parties, why vote?

It’s similar to the recent Paul Krugman article in Rolling Stone praising Obama. The article has gotten a ton of liberal backlash from Thomas Frank (in Salon) and others for now praising Obama for many of the very same things he, Krugman, himself, has criticized Obama for in the past. Krugman isn’t dumb, he simply knows there is an election in two weeks, and the outcome will matter, so now is the time to remind people (we all only hope the voters are more thoughtful than the reactionary pundits) the ways in which the glass is half full, the ways in which Obama has succeeded. After the election, no matter the outcome, we should again do all we can to push Obama to do things that are good for the country. At the moment, since perhaps even a majority of Americans only pay attention to politics for a week before elections, it seems very obvious to me, if not to Dave Johnson or Thomas Frank, why Brooks and Krugman have written what they have this past week. Although perhaps they are all only playing their parts. Krugman and Brooks are bigger names with bigger audiences; they are trying to reach a wide audience of people who often don’t pay much attention to politics, in hopes to provide a small push in the November 4th elections—Brooks to convince people everyone in the political class is the same so it doesn’t matter if you vote, and Krugman to remind people of the positive things Obama has done in hopes of getting a few Democrats who would otherwise stay home (as far too many under 35 do in the midterm elections) to actually go out and vote on election day.

(Along with Krugman’s column, Rolling Stone also has a useful list reminding us what Obama has accomplished. Some of the points are maybe too snarky: “Osama bin Ladens alive 2009: 1, Osama bin Ladens alive 2014: 0.” Others are useful and far too little known: “Gigawatts of wind power installed when Obama took office: 25, Gigawatts of wind power installed through end of 2013: 61.”)

Johnson and Franks have smaller audiences and are more preaching to their choirs, which is there way of getting out the vote.
It is sad that in modern America, one side of the political spectrum spends so much energy, usually in vain, to get people to go out and vote for politicians and policies that would help them. And the other side of the political spectrum is filled with rabid people who always vote (especially in primaries, skewing things to the extremes), and their pundits and politicians spend their energy trying to suppress, in various ways, any votes that may be against their agenda.

We can dream of a country and a system where a great majority of people vote, and do so with confidence that their vote matters and that the people they elect will represent them. Right now that is only a dream, and it will be a long hard fight to turn it into a reality.

Mark Twain wrote that he never voted, because it only encourages them. Still a funny line, though the reality has reversed today. We all took Twain too much to heart, so the politicians can do nothing for the people and get away with it. Whether an election race where you are has a real choice or not, we have to vote. It is the only thing that has a chance to frighten those in power who have for too long ignored us.

About JP

We're two guys who met in college, in 1980. We've stayed in touch, and like to talk politics, current events, music and religion. JP is nore liberal than Sid, but not in every way. We figure that dialogue stimulates ideas, moderates perspective, and is in general friendly. These are things we need badly in these dangerous times. The blog name is taken from a song by Bruce Cockburn.
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