Thursday, April 25, 2013

My Guy

Second presidential terms are fraught with speculation about potential lame-duck status. Does he have enough pull to push his agenda still further forward? It's not a useless question, but it's really just speculation about what the politicians will do, for the people have more or less checked out of the debates. The popular opposition by this time is always fully enraged. Nothing the president does, good or bad, is good. They're exhausted from opposing, angered by policy and indignant about losing not once but twice. Again, this is unsurprising. The reaction of the president's coalition, however, baffles.

You see, if a candidate I supported ever won, I would hold him to the high standard of the ideals he supposedly represents because should he fail, he would discredit my principles. I find it tough to understand the "my guy" philosophy of politics in which one must eternally support anyone and everyone he voted for. Now few would admit to unconditional support of "their guy," but somehow the equation always balances in his favor. Does supporting "x-rights" trump foreign policy and the economy? Does the economy trump education policy? It's like a game or rock-paper-scissors where everybody wins.

So I wonder now, for example, as we sit mired in a miasma of myriad misguided, misapplied, and misanthropic policies, what might finally snap one of the president's supporters from his piper's tune. Every single matter, they invariably say, would have been worse under the alternatives. If so, then there's a rather monumental political problem, wouldn't you say? I have, in fact, received such concessions from the president's men, so to call them, that we are in dire straits with poor candidates, yet they subsequently say that, even so, better to have "their guy" in charge.

Still, though, some attribute no vice whatsoever to the president. His failures all owe to external factors. The GOP, the supreme court, the lobbyists, congress, big business, Fox News, and the American people. In fact the president's only flaw seems to be an excess of virtue which renders him incapable of doing the nasty work necessary to nudge his policies through. He's too respectful, too quiet. He follows the rules. He just won't break those eggs. The great Progress-Bringer lays chained, Prometheus-like, to his virtue as the all mighty GOP pecks away at him, a painted president at the cusp of greatness.

Of course the "conservatives" played their parts as toadies before, doing their dance for President Bush.  The "my guy" mentality is unshakeable and bipartisan. "I'm a pragmatist" they told me. Funny how their pragmatism perfectly coincided with everything Bush did to the exact degree.

This is not to say these two parties won't admit the failure of policy. You only need witness their game of hot potato with the TSA and No Child Left Behind to realize that. But "my guy" had nothing to do with that. And never criticize your guy, because then you'll help the other side.  "We have to win elections." If you have principles, keep them under your hat. The implication there is of course that the machinery of government is powerful and irreversible, so just put the guy who seems best at the helm and hope for the best. We'll try and hold him accountable after we give him the power. How liberal.

It's not always unreasonable to vote for an imperfect candidate, but it should be after an honest reckoning one's principles, of what he's done and what one expects him to do, and without the conceit that because somebody was going to win, that it was moral to turn the gun over to him, for having "a guy" is nothing short of worshipping either man or power, two ends which tend to overwhelm all.

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