Thursday, February 7, 2008

decision making in american democracy

the biggest lesson to me this election cycle is the inanity of our party-based democratic process.

the candidates and pundits go on for hours with little discussion of the real issues facing the country... nothing about how to really fix healthcare, social security and jobs.

the media facilitates this by obsessing over their polls and perceptions, but doesn't remind people "this woman is a criminal", or "republicans hate john mccain". some people might call them opinions, but to me both can be proven to any reanable person. one need only read an article as recent as this one:

which chronicles how people clearly at the lower end of the income scale giving hundreds of thousands of dollars to hillary and the democrats. one has to ask if a mail carrier earning about 50k can give that kind of money, when he's still living in a miserable cramped house next to the airport. how can one explain that kind of donation, other than to assume it's not his money... and, if it's not his money, why would someone want to hide a donation?? I would imagine that money has some nefarious origins. and before hillary is elected, I'd like to see someone address this story.

the same goes for mccain. as someone who used to enjoy radio shows like jim quinn and rush limbaugh, I understand how the middle american conservative thinks. they didn't like john mccain in 2000 and still don't. that's why mccain failed to carry any of the key republican states on tuesday... huckabee won the perennially red GA, AR, AL plus the often-red TN... mccain won in places like CA and CT. now some are speculating about joe liberman as VP, which would be insane. but if he were running against hillary, he would probably still collect major support.

anyway, this is just part of the bigger phenomenon I'm examining: how do people make decisions in our democratic system? there are different environments for making decisions. when deciding whether to be married, buy a house or take a job, most people have a deep innate sense of what's right and will lead to the best outcome. they know how their life is now and how they want things to be.

decisions like that are easy to make wisely.

an even better example is corporate life, where people choose how to spend billions of dollars of other people's money efficiently. there is an institution, an intellectual framework, that guides people to make sure they don't make the same stupid mistake of enron, penn central, _____name your favorite financial meltdown. in most cases, people just want to avoid getting sued or fired, so they serve the organization and make the right financial decisions.

in cases like this, people have both knowledge about the question and a strong incentive to see it answered the right and most accurate way. little carrots and sticks like this are what keep society running as a regular entity.

this may be how effective and beneficial decisions are made ... but even more important decisions are made in a way that's much less conducive to successful outcomes.

compare the kind of decision a person makes about a job or marriage with the amount of energy and thought they put into a political candidate. people get a sense they like someone and is never forced to defend that position. millions of americans are voting for hillary knowing perhaps she was persecuted by some mean people like ken starr in the past, but now she'll bring back the good old clinton days...

decisions like this are shallow and quickly developed. in real life people know they'll have to live with their job or their spouse, so they make the right choice.. in elections, they just chose one person. they have no sense that it will AFFECT THEM the way it eventually will does

this disconnect exists in a symbiotic relationship with the media, which can go on for hours about a campaigns and polls, but never gets into the issues. someone like huckabee wants to overhaul the tax code and really fix things. what do the other stand for? people might think huckabee's tax idea is crazy, but the truth is at some point we need to fix our current morass. I'm sure he'd accomplish something much different from his current plan. but what matters to me is at least he wants to do something. what exactly are the elements of obama's health care plan? can I please get a single full-screen with bullet points? the media can spend hours covering campaigns and speechs, yet tell voters none of these basic facts.

thus is the inanity of our american democracy.... it's cobbled together from all these different states. why can't america look at itself and ask: why are the only country in the world with such a fragmented state-by-state party system? why are we the only body politic that uses electors rather than direct polls? why must we fight to get 50 distinct jurisdictions on the same page for national elections? and... why is it that neither our constitution nor our declaration of independence contain "democracy," or any related word?

is it not time america, to look in the mirror and ask what's going on?

people wander through their lives, doing what's right for them. they give little thought to bigger things like whether hillary committed crimes. they don't see that it's not wise to give such a person power over their lives and fortunes... when the harm she will cause is upon them, they'll blame whoever's in power at the time....

this is essentially how history progresses. .. most people are just going along for the ride, making small decisions that shift the entire mass. what worries me is that once people have accepted hillary, if she travels any dangerous or truly evil direction, many of those people will stick with her. many will be sheep and stay with her no matter what.

of course, in history, these same people are fortunate when the leader is a lincoln, roosevelt or washington -- one who gives you the opportunity to fight for a truly great cause. but when a bad leader comes along, those same followers are also willing brownshirts.

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