Race to the Bottom

I have been following the election fairly closely this year and if nothing else it has been interesting.   I think both candidates are normally fairly respectable and not your usually slimy politician.  Going into the election I would have thought we might get some respectful discussion about the plans each candidate has if they were elected. While we have had a little of that we have also had a lot of idiotic name calling.  Does it really matter that John McCain has a bunch of houses or that Obama’s middle name is Hussein?  Obama does not hate America and “pal around with terrorists” and McCain is not a senile old man.  To suggest so is dim witted and extremely insulting.  It says that we the American people are not intelligent enough to decide based on the different tax and economic strategies or the ideas on diplomacy, so instead we will vote for the one with fewer houses or the one who’s name doesn’t rhyme with Osama.  It is pandering to base emotions and the least intelligent of voters, and terrifyingly it appears to work.

It is understandable that at the political rallies the crazies and idiots (extreme left and right respectively) will come out and say stupid things, but what is wrong with calling them on it and having them removed from the crowd?  To his credit John McCain has done this he defended Obama’s character from his own supporters and got booed for his efforts.  For me that speaks more to the character of John McCain then anything else I have seen and I don’t know why it hasn’t received more coverage in the media.  He should be applauded for it and Obama should be challenged to behave similarly.  However, at the final debate with everything pre-planned he said he was proud of the people that come to his rallies.  To me this says the real John McCain is an honest and intelligent person, the scripted PC John McCain is shamelessly trying to claim the crazy vote.

Another troubling trend is the popularity of the “common man” political figure, politicians who cultivate an image of a “normal” person just like me (I’m looking at you Bush and Palin).  People apparently like someone that seems like the neighbor from down the street with “small town values”, whatever that is.  Why having a folksy accent would help convince some voters and attending one of the most prestigious universities in the world would discourage some voters is totally beyond me.  I don’t want someone just like me to be running the country, I want someone much more intelligent than me!

For once I would like a candidate to treat me like an adult tell me that we are going to have to raise taxes and cut programs to realistically balance the budget.  If the budget can’t be balanced in 1 year show a plan to do it in 4.  Pie in the sky tax cuts, no major program changes, and a budget surplus sound nice but so does a 3 day work week, I’m not holding my breath.  The only politician I know that has done this is, not suprisingly, not a real politician, Arnold Schwarzenegger.  He presents a responsible balanced budget with contains program cuts and raised taxes and the result was a deadlocked legislature for 85 days.

I plan on voteing for the candidate I think we reduce the deficit the most, ironically right now this appears to be the Democrat.  I’m not sure when fiscal responsability left the Republicans (ok it was Regan) but until it returns I will be looking for greener pastures.

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One Response to Race to the Bottom

  1. Grad Student says:

    Good post, though I would argue that McCain is playing to people’s irrational fears that Obama is a terrorist a bit much.

    Speaking of Obama, I have a nice short post connecting astrophysics with Obama:

    http://betadecay.wordpress.com/2008/10/28/calculating-imaginary-things/

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