Posted by: Kevin | November 1, 2006

Fear the Angry Amoeba

angry-amoeba-2.JPG

Self described “Independents” make up the largest voter group in American politics*.  Yet, there is no vital center.  Reconciling thesetwo facts is what makes politics so frustrating for me.  The center of American politics is an Amoeba with no fixed limits or shape.  It grows or shrinks depending on how far to their respective wings the Democrats and Republicans drift.  Right now that Amoeba is big and it’s getting pissed. 

There is a whole group of people out there looking for choice C but instead are being forced to vote against choice A or B.  Even now, with opposition to Republicans at a record high amongst independents, just 22% of those planning on voting for Democrats, will do so “very enthusiastically” (count me amongst the 78% BTW).  Why is this the case?

It’s all about winning now.  Politics has always been about winning to some extent.   Cheap political tricks and smear campaigns are not recent inventions.  What is a recent, is the over abundance of communication.  It is truly ironic that the exponential increase in communication has enabled us to further shield ourselves from opposing views. 

If I want to believe that George Bush is the greatest president of all time, there are numerous media outlets and blogs that will cater to that view.  Just as there are countless places to find the opposite view.  I can spend the entire day reading and discussing “The News” without ever confronting an uncomfortable truth or being asked to question a dearly held assumption.  It’s led to very vocal partisans on both sides who are incapable of understanding their opponents.

Consider

While the country is divided on whether or not we should stay in Iraq.  A large majority thinks that the Bush administration has been botching the job.  Yet our only choices are immediate retreat or stay the course with no overall change in strategy. 

A significant majority of the country still feels it was the right decision to use military force in Afghanistan.  However, neither party wants to discuss it, because the Republicans don’t want to acknowledge that things are going wrong and the Democrats don’t have a plan to fix it.

On abortion, despite a wide range of personal beliefs, fully 2/3 of the country would like to see a middle ground conclusion reached.  Yet I know of no one in politics campaigning on the promise of reaching a compromise position.  Instead we have neanderthals who would outlaw all abortions (and even criminalize miscarriage) and the opposing argument that no legislation on abortion is acceptable. 

These are just three examples, there are many others.  Only on Immigration policy is there no middle ground.  This demonstrates how poisened the political discourse has become.  As each party devours their moderates, compromise options are no longer being discussed.  The recent “debate” on military tribunals  emphasizes this.  After some fanfare, the seeming rebellion of McCain and Powell (amongst others) was quickly put to rest and the party line was rigorously followed. 

The good news is that we seem to finally be hitting a gag reflex.  Recent polling has demonstrated that moderates are fleeing the Republicans in droves.  For now, they are planning on voting Democrat.  However, as the poll I sighted at the top would indicate, they aren’t doing so because they buy into the Democrat agenda. 

What the potential victory for the Democrats will mean, depends largely on what the Democrats choose to do with it.  If they acknowledge that their (potential) victory was earned on the backs of dissatisfied Republican moderates, they’ll push a compromise agenda.  November 7th could then be the first step on the road to a Presidential victory in 2008.  If they celebrate it as a victory for the far left and engage in two years of partisan bullshit?  Then by 2008, the largest group of constituents in American politics will have been betrayed by both parties, and be looking for a new home. 

*This info comes from Wikipedia, please correct me if I’m wrong.
Polling Data
http://www.pollingreport.com/index.htm 
Link to WaPo article came from here
http://bullmooseblogger.blogspot.com/2006/10/center-insurgency.html
Photo taken form this site.
http://www.darrenbarefoot.com/hall/slides/Angry%20Amoeba.html

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Responses

  1. “Self described “Independents” make up the largest voter group in American politics” “please correct me if I’m wrong.”

    It sounds incredible doesn’t it? I only started to try to see if it is correct but let’s just say it is for the sake of argument. Also, I think it is probably true since this source also says that it is true, it says it is true now having changed from decades ago: “In the mid twentieth century, party identification was a badge of honor. According to the National Election Studies program at the University of Michigan, fifty years ago 47 percent of voters identified with the Democrats and 28 percent with the Republicans, while just 23 percent were independents. In the year 2000, however, those numbers were almost reversed, with 40 percent of American voters describing themselves as independents, 34 percent as Democrats, and 24 percent as Republicans.

    Isn’t it incredible that the media doesn’t have an Independent view represented every time they talk to a Republican and a Democrat? This is part of the reason I think you are concluding that there is no “vital center.” I think the media simply doesn’t present it so it seems like there isn’t. This is part of the power of the media. Kat was right about the fact that the media is powerful and what that means, “Because you cannot know any different, you will base your decisions on what I have told you. If I have done my job well you will make the decision I want you to make.” The huge part of the power is what they omit. MSM omits the Independent view because MSM’s focus is around centers of power and powerful interest put their money behind what is often called “the two parties.” The mainstream media could have on people who identify themselves as part of the Amoeba you mention but they do not do so for the most part, basically all the political energy is framed as Democratic or Republican.

    I argue that powerful interests fear the angry amoeba and that powerful interests are catered to by excluding Independents from the media as much as we see. Compromise options COULD BE discussed in the mainstream media if they simply allowed it or didn’t restrict it to the large degree that we see that they do. A functioning media is essential to a functioning democracy. I think this is part of the reason the Amoeba is angry.

    And to make the point that relates to this, people need a real and fair way to exercise their democratic rights. the amoeba is angry because it is getting screwed over. It does matter if large parts of the amoeba are being deceived and manipulated by mainstream media and they never figure it out. People need to know the truth otherwise they really are not making choices without true freedom. If you come to my store and I deceive you into thinking I am selling you a sofa yet I ship you a thimble, you don’t share the blame for why you ended up with a thimble, I am to blame because it wasn’t fair for me to do that. I can’t misrepresent what it is I am selling you and think you share blame for you being conned. The same goes for those that run our media and it applies to the “evil politicians” you refereed to in “If This Country Goes Down, It’s Taking Me With It.” And this point is important because you take issue with me blaming “evil politicians.”

    I think what former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-TX) said just 2 days ago on October 31 is something everyone should think about. Dick Armey said: “a fundamental premise of politics is we can make this work if people just never figure it out.” Armey’s amazingly honest admission about conning the public reveals what goes on in political discourse. Chris Matthews had asked him if what the Republicans were doing was “making it look like they’ve got Kerry saying something” and Armey admitted, “it’s pretty standard fare in political discourse. You misconstrue what somebody said, you isolate a statement, you lend your interpretation to it, then feign moral outrage. And Democrats have been doing it for years.”


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