Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Local Government and the "Lesser Evil" electoral argument

In each presidential year we hear that the Democrats are the lesser evil and that even if they are hawks on foreign policy, the differences on domestic policy justify supporting them – as opposed to the alternatives of focusing on extra-parliamentary politics and voting for third party candidates. But, does this domestic argument hold water in 2008? I think not.

Those who have worked in local government – which has been my professional milieu for the past 25 years – can all testify that it is impossible to discern a difference, especially in Los Angeles. Nearly all of the elected officials at LA’s City Hall have been or are mainstream to liberal Democrats (except for Richard Riordan, who was a liberal Republican tied to many Democrats, like Antonio Villaraigosa.). The elected officials are to a person blindly devoted to expanding the LAPD, direct financial aid to large developers in the form of tax and fee breaks totaling hundreds of millions of dollars, total cronyism in construction contracts to Tutor-Saliba worth billions, and a cavalier attitude towards regulations and code enforcement.

Once these local political types, who exist in every large U.S. city, get to Washington, their policies continue and expand, albeit with two slight differences. First, they have a great "Republicans are bad" hot button which did not apply to local politics, and second, they are very good at invoking the old liberal era, which ran from the 30s to the 60s, even though the last new progressive social program, the Environmental Protection Agency, was established under Nixon. How ironic that such an awful guy was, in reality, the last liberal president!

As far as I can tell, we now have two parties fully devoted to being "business friendly" and maintaining "law and order" from Main Street to Wall Street to the rest of the world. The difference appears to be the way the two parties market this approach. The Republicans push guns, God, and opposition to gays, while the Dems invoke other cultural issues, largely focused on minorities and women, especially abortion. But this hot button, as well, does not stand up under scrutiny. If abortion is the sole issue to justify supporting Democrats – and not devote all of ones political resources and energies to issues and movements -- then why did nearly all of the Democrats in the Senate support Bush's nominees to the Supreme Court? Shouldn't they have at least opposed his nominees because of Roe vs. Wade?

And if women's issues are a major concern justifying passive or active support for a truly awful U.S. and fully bi-partisan foreign policy, then why have the Democrats in the House and Senate made no effort to reverse the dreadful welfare "reforms" of the Clinton administration, which have devastated women throughout this country?

administration, which they support, runs an Finally, as for women in other countries, we only need to look at Afghanistan, where the Democrats are running to the right of the Bush administration, and where the Karzai Islamicist regime which is horribly oppressive of women.

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