Friday, June 23, 2006

The Tsongas Effect

(this was originally part of a comment I was going to post on Anti-Rust, but it really constitutes part of my political view).

I think it comes down to us, not electing and supporting candidates who care more about getting it right. Our congnitive dissonance in electing those people who tell us what we want to hear, not what we know we should hear.

I think of it as the Tsongas effect. In '92, Paul Tsongas was running for the democratic nomination for president. He had a kind of downbeat message for a democrat, he wanted to raise taxes to reduce the deficit and he was (according to the Wikipedia) fairly pro-business. He had had a battle with cancer, and he claimed that had the effect of liberating him to tell truth (as he saw it). I guess his truth ran along the personal and national responsibility route (as opposed to other politician’s truths, because they all tell the truth, right?) He won New Hampshire, probably partly because he was from Massachusetts, but also because the run up to the NH primary is so long you can get a complicated message out there and bring voters around. Obviously he dropped out of the race after losing a string of the next primaries. Now, I have nothing against the eventual nominee and President; Clinton is a lying populist, to be sure. I would like to see Clinton in total; in many ways he was the ideal man for an opposition congress during the internet boom (he picked up some of Tsongas’ pro-business views, let the wave of the internet boom fix the deficit and for better or worse changed welfare). But I wonder if we missed a chance for someone to be more honest with us. Yes, I think Bush is sometimes honest with us, in his way. His version of honesty includes saying the rich are taxed too much in our current system, so I find I disagree with some of his value system. Plus, he has let people whom he trusts because of their loyalty hire other people who have wasted or perhaps stolen a lot of taxpayer money (the Iraq reconstruction, by any objective standard, has had vast mismanagement, regardless of what you feel it has accomplished). And he only acknowledges some uncomfortable problems if he absolutely has to (see WMD's), and brings up others that weren’t part of the daily lives of many of us (see illegal immigration).

My point is maybe there is something to the idea of just voting against the incumbent in the primary and/or the general. I’m no better, I need to spend some more of my time to find a candidate I can live with and then some more time asking other people to vote for my candidate. All the while knowing I will get disenchanted all over again.

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