Brad DeLong writes: > somewhere, Lee Atwater was grinning a s***-eating grin, and giving Richard Nixon and Joe McCarthy high fives...<
This pisses me off, driving me to temporarily abandon my normal attitude of naive realism, i.e., that by applying rational argument in discussions with intelligent people one can evoke not only respect but perhaps some rational argument in return.
I replied to the lesser-of-two-evils argument before (and thus abstained from the current thread on the subject until now); I argued that voting for either of the two hegemonic political parties is what the Brits call a "mug's game," a game one can't win. But Brad didn't respond to my argument at all.
Instead, he goes beyond the normal L-O-T-E argument which says "it's sad, but we really don't have any choice in the matter," which is what the "someone" said above, as far as I can tell. He goes beyond that argument to imply that anyone who doesn't follow the L-O-T-E argument is a follower of -- or at least a sympathizer to -- Nixon and Joe McCarthy. Perhaps we are not conscious followers of these evil creatures, but _objectively_ we are supporting their cause. We're crypto McCarthyites or Nixonians.
This is insulting nonsense. If you're going to defend your evils, at least tell us how good they are (why they're "better"). Why is Barbara Boxer better than Matt Fong? why is Gray Davis better than Dan Ludgren? Give us _information_, not innuendo. if these politicians are better than the others, what forces keep them from forgetting their campaign promises on election eve? is there any reason we can trust them?
And, more importantly, tell us what's _wrong_ with the alternative to the mug's game. Ignoring the arguments against the L-O-T-E theory of voting seems a symptom short-term thinking. (In this, it's extememly akin to that of the sectarians who reject thinking in favor of mindless action.) Instead of seeing the ballot box as a potential tool for pressuring politicians, it's some sort of obligation that promises vague results. But it is a strategic tool. It also has ethical implications. Do we want to vote for a party that trashed AFDC? a party that endorsed the strategic bombing of a medicine factory in Sudan (with suspicious timing, to say the least)?
BTW, if you compare Nixon's program with that of Clinton, it's sometimes hard to decide which is better. After all, it was Nixon who brought the US OSHA and EPA.
What's happened is that the US political spectrum has steadily moved to the right.
The problem is that Clinton and his Democratic Leadership Council has encouraged that move and has profited from that move. So have the voters who vote for the lesser evil no matter what; they passive ratify whatever the trend is in politicians' sentiment.
If Nixon and McCarthy are celebrating, they're probably doing so because it doesn't matter which candidates win, since all of the mainstream ones endorse the basic principles (though perhaps not the tactics) that Nixon and McCarthy endorsed.
I don't like Nazi analogies, but what do we do if the choice were between Goering and Goebbels? more moderately, what if it were between Joe McCarthy and Roy Cohn? which is the lesser evil?
Jim Devine jdevine at popmail.lmu.edu & http://clawww.lmu.edu/Departments/ECON/jdevine.html