Time to knock off a couple more answers to questions posed in Ask Me Anything! February 2012. As before, note that I'm still open to questions!
In this edition I'm going to tackle all of the political questions at once, so if you don't want to read ranty liberalism, just keep scrolling. I'll put the rest of this after the cut.
First, Roger asks: Your specific analysis of the 4 GOP candidates for President (and any of the dropouts if you want). Positive/negative traits, whether your opinion of them has improved or declined since the campaign has started. How you think each would fare against Obama, and who you think each would pick as a VP candidate.
Anyone familiar with me likely knows that I'm honestly not the person to ask this question. For me to ever consider voting Republican again, that whole party is going to have to move significantly to the left, and I think the odds of that happening are spectacularly low. I honestly don't want to get into a big long rant on why I find them all so loathsome, so here's a short rundown:
Mitt Romney: He'd probably be the best President of the bunch, in terms of policy; but I don't think that even if he was elected, he'd be able to command the party loyalty that it would take to get some stuff through Congress. Or, given his slavish desperation to prove that he really is a good little Movement Conservative, I suspect he'd espouse policies that he doesn't really believe in himself...which would make for half-assed governance.
Newt Gingrich: This man is the Father of Scorched Earth Republican Politics. He's a moral midget, a man with zero policy ideas that interest me, and...well, the man is a shit. I think that he'd be Nixon without the charm.
Rick Santorum: For different reasons, he's even more loathsome to me than Gingrich. I hate this guy. I hate his smarmy smile, I hate his sweater vests (not that he can help that one, I just hate sweater vests), I hate his apparent belief that God communicates through him, I hate his misogyny, I hate his stance on everything he ever opines about. Everything about him screams out that he sees a Santorum Presidency as his chance to be High Moral Arbiter of the Land. The Inquisition would come to America, if he had his way.
Ron Paul: I hate this guy too. I hate that he's almost certainly a sickeningly banal racist who has tossed out a whole series of contradictory and unconvincing lies to explain the existence of racist writings that appeared over his signature. I hate his transparent manipulation of the legislative process to score all kinds of Evil Gummint Money for his district, while he claims purity in his hatred of Evil Gummint Money. I hate that his Great Commitment to Freedom doesn't so much extend to people who are attracted to people of the same sex, or people who have vaginas. And I hate the dewy-eyed cult that surrounds this guy, consisting of mostly young people who know exceedingly little but think because they've read Paul tracts and Cliff Notes versions of Ayn Rand that they get to tell everyone else to "educate themselves".
A week or two ago, MightyGodKing described the Republican field thusly: "This primary is between a Republican version of John Kerry except less likeable and human, a dude who lost a re-election campaign by twenty points, a guy who was so dishonest that his fellow Republicans said “dude, whoa” and an insane dwarf." That's about right. All of these candidates deny global warming. All of them deny evolution. All of them champion a continued stampede toward stupidity.
How would they fare against President Obama? A lot can happen, but if the economic news continues to be good each month, leading to an increased mood of optimism in America, I can't see any of these guys winning. My hope is that this is the last election cycle that the Republicans can get even crazier, because if they manage to come up with an even more vile batch of crazies in 2016...ye gods.
Sorry, Republicans. But I didn't ask the question!
Sticking with Roger: Why, do you suppose, that Tea Party folks support the economic policies of the rich when it is not, IMO, in their own best interest?
Because they're dumb? OK, maybe that's not nice or charitable or whatever, but...I can't come up with anything else. But when you get right down to it, the Tea Party is nothing more than good old Angry White Republicanism, dressed up in tricorns and spouting Revolutionary War rhetoric. I don't see any interesting new arguments from them, just warmed-over "Anything gummint does is bad" nonsense. The Tea Party is branding, nothing more. There's a visceral loathing of government in the American psyche that's been there since before the country even existed. It's often not even rational, but we have a powerfully mythological belief in this country in rich people who made it for themselves with no help from anybody, in awful government bureaucrats whose only reason for existence is to make decisions that affect people adversely (all the while accepting corporate bureaucracies whose only reason for existence is to make decisions that affect people adversely, with the extra bonus of doing it for a profit motive), and in the whole idea that so many have that "I do everything for myself!"
I could say more, but I don't think I will.
Should civil rights issues such as gay marriage be decided by the courts, the legislature or by plebiscite, and why?
Probably a combination of the courts and legislatures. I am not a fan of voter referenda. I'm a fan of representative democracy, where sudden moods of an electorate are removed from direct decision making. It seems to me that referenda tend to be decided by the side that gets angry enough to vote on something, and further, that anger seems too often to translate into a referendum being decided on the side of limiting rights, rather than granting them. The fact is that public opinion often needs to be dragged kicking and screaming forward.
The 20th Century was clearly the American century. What will the 21st be?
Well, I see no reason to write off America yet, although we've got some troubles in front of us. China is coming on strong, isn't it? And India is making big strides as well. This may be the Asian Century...but I'd be happy if it could somehow be the era when we start to put notions of nationhood behind. I'd like it to be the human century.
More answers to come!