6.17.2005

some scary thoughts

I have some cool stuff from ALPF, from two sources I never would have seen. (Extra thanks!)

In The Tyee, Raif Mair confronts "The problem with pre-programmed politicians".
Last week I offered, as one of the reasons the Tories will lose the next election, the fact that they are being hijacked by the religious right, just as has happened to the Republican party.

At last count there were some 15 actual or probable Tory nominations to fundamentalist Christians.

When I raise this question on air, I can expect a barrage of email asking: "Why are you afraid of fundamentalist Christians? And wouldn't it be better for the country if we had men and women of Christian morality in office?"

My answer to the first question is that I fear any politician whose views on anything are unbending and depend upon a philosophical commitment that is unbreakable.

Am I saying that I want politicians who change their minds with every shift in the prevailing wind? No, not quite that. I just don't want them preprogrammed. To me, fundamentalists of any religion are the reverse side of the communist coin. Each looks to accepted (by them) written authority when making a decision. Neither the Communist Manifesto nor the words of Mao and Lenin, however interpreted, should guide public policy. Nor should the writings in the Bible.

I make one exception to the latter statement – if the politicians guiding principle is "love thy neighbour as thyself", no one can complain.
That's it exactly, isn't it? It's not the politician's religion per se; it's possible that an elected official's religious beliefs could make her a better representative. It's the inflexibility. Read more, it's good.

In the excellent Dissident Voice, John Chuckman offers the scariest thought of all: "All Bush, All the Time, For the Rest of Your Life". Here's the idea: kill the 22nd Amendment, put in place to stop the people from getting what they might have wanted (more FDR), and keep BushCo running.
It has my full support, simply because I believe America needs a belly full of Bush before the world can expect any relief from the country's lunatic course. I know through long experience that what happens to the rest of the world carries little weight with most Americans. Since 9/11, America has been turning itself into a gated community, bristling with ferocious weapons, vis-à-vis the rest of the world, and the truth is we don't hear much outrage about it from America herself.

Americans are stubborn people, convinced of the virtue of whatever they do - even today you'd be hard put to convince many that cremating, poisoning, and blowing apart three million Vietnamese was anything other than heroic self-sacrifice in the name of freedom - so it takes a long time to alter course in America. Steering one of those gigantic super-tankers where you have to anticipate your turn miles ahead is almost child's play by comparison.

Lies have always been used to promote wars, and America's wars, despite the nation's ongoing flirtation with democracy, have been absolutely no different in character to those of despots over the centuries. We could say that it will be the test of democratic maturity when the American people are consulted and told honestly why they are being asked to start a war, but that seems unlikely to happen in our lifetime.

. . .

So I don't understand why any Americans are surprised at Bush's shameless lies. He's almost turned lying into a form of stand-up comedy. As soon as one lie's usefulness is ended, he smirkingly substitutes another, without pausing to consider any need for continuity between the two. It is hilarious to watch the leader of a great nation doing this, at least so long as you are not one of his victims.

The real puzzle is why Americans keep buying tickets to his act...
It's an excellent piece, and sure to offend those who still love the good ole USA, and those who still believe the Democrats are going to save it.

As much as I agree with Chuckman, I also sigh with sadness when I read this: "the truth is we don't hear much outrage about it from America herself". Are our dissenting voices not being heard?

10 comments:

RobfromAlberta said...

Everyone is pre-programmed. The only difference is whether or not you agree with the programming. Look at the same-sex marriage debate. Every single member of the NDP caucus supports the measure and no one is even the least bit surprised by that. Even the Conservatives have a few dissenting voices. Now of course, if you agree that homosexuals should have the right to marry (as I do), then you are probably not too threatened by the NDP stand on this issue, but it goes to show that the leftwing ideologues are just as predictable and inflexible as the rightwing ideologues.

L-girl said...

Inflexible ideologues definitely come in all stripes. I'm not sure everyone is preprogrammed. But perhaps all political parties are.

RobfromAlberta said...

Sure, let's say the vast majority of successful politicians are pre-programmed. After all, people want to know what they are voting for. If someone casts their ballot for a member of a particular party, they are buying a bill of goods. They expect that person to represent the policies they are voting for. If the person you voted for starts going in a contrary direction, like for example, an NDP MP starts thinking that high corporate taxes are costing jobs in his or her riding and votes to lower them, the folks back home start demanding change. Next election, the freethinker is tossed, either by the nomination committee or the electorate.

Anonymous said...

I take your point, and you're right. But a govt official pre-programmed by his interpretation of the Bible - what that story's referring to - is dangerously mixing church and state. And so selectively, too. A govt based on the Bible is fine, but one based on the Koran...

L-girl on iPAQ (on Dallas break)

redsock said...

This reminds me of the sig line of a Red Sox message board poster:

"That's what the Republicans call flip-flopping -- or what the rest of us call 'learning'."

RobfromAlberta said...

Actually, Redsock, I agree with you in theory. I would rather my elected representative make an informed decision based on his or her conscience and if that means going against the party line, they should do so. However, if they do go in a radically different direction than the one they campaigned on, they have the duty to put themselves up for a vote at the earliest possible time. In Canada, that means resigning your seat and running for re-election in a by-election. Obviously, this is an extreme step and should only be taken when a politician undergoes a significant philosophical renaissance.

RobfromAlberta said...

A bit off-topic, but this is un-f**king-believable.

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/17/nyregion/17suicide.html

Anonymous said...

Yes! This is the other girl, the friend of the one I blogged about a while back when they were released . I'll go look for the post...

L-girl on iPAQ

Anonymous said...

Found it, and it turns out I only mentioned it briefly and never revisited. FWIW:

http://wemovetocanada.blogspot.com/2005/05/update.html

L-girl said...

That was me, by the way.