Thursday, January 03, 2008

i still can't get you out of my head. i don't know why. you won't even tell me why you can't see me. you make it sound like you want to, but you can't. i wish i understood.

come back.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

for more than a year now, i've had half an ear cocked at the presidential primaries. it's been amusing enough. kind of like following a sports team, in that it's a largely harmless pastime that gives one the illusion of a grander narrative in which one is sunk without actually having to do much about it besides get drunk and watch and blather and bloviate amongst like-minded persons.
it passes the time, anyway.
but now that we've rung in the new year (who knew we'd all survive to 2008? that america would survive, even, wounded and limping though she is?), it's up to the good citizens of iowa to actually get the ball rolling and do some delegate-allocating. i'd say do some voting, but as anyone with half a brain and half an ear cocked (and i count myself as such) knows, they don't vote in iowa, they caucus. and boy howdy is it complicated, and apparently it takes a long-ass time.
some people say caucusing is undemocratic, that a straight-up primary with secret ballots and voting and electronic machines to count those votes is easier, will draw more people out, and is therefore more democratic, because if it brings out more people, then it must, by definition, be more democratic, since more of the demos participates. and they can do it more honestly, since ballots are secret and nobody can see you there in the voting booth, just like nobody can see you in the bathroom (insert your own larry craig joke).
i am amenable to arguments like this, but i'm not so sure they outweigh the arguments on the other side.
hey, we're all busy people. we have lives to lead, kids to raise, mortgages to pay, all that. even people like me, with no kids and who work no more than 30 hours a week have shit to do everyday, some of it obligatory, some of it for love. it is certainly more convenient to not have to spend more than ten minutes or so taking care of our civic duties before returning to our regularly scheduled lives. considering how few people who can vote do, it makes a lot of sense to make it as easy as possible.
on the flipside, what i like about the iowa caucuses is that, by making it difficult to do, only the people who really care make it out and make themselves heard. and while i suppose that that is, in itself, somewhat undemocratic, in that it is effectively if not legally exclusionary, i think that its lack of platonic idealitude actually works in the nation's favor, because only the most passionate, informed voters are willing to venture out into the cold and spend the time that it takes to figure this shit out.
i also think that the collective nature of the caucusing process is a good thing. having to defend your position in the face of direct and personal opposition is healthy for democracies and other living things. the worst ideas, the worst ideologies, always insist that they have a sole lock on the truth of things and always act in such a way as to undermine or suppress debate. and that is as un-american as a thing could be. the greatest of the ideas underlying america, what makes us truly special among nations and among experiments in governance, is that america is a place where the free marketplace of ideas is not only enshrined in the national consciousness, it's actually built in to the system. it's unbelievably difficult for any single idea or ideology to acheive hegemony here, because the system is built to prevent the accumulation of too much power in too few hands.
i am not saying that it always works out this way. far from it. but the idea is there, and it's strong enough to have withstood our entire history of not quite living up to our own ideals.
left alone, it's easier for people to get set in their ways. easier to ignore evidence or arguments that don't fit your position or worldview. having to engage others who are not necessarily like-minded is healthy for people and democracies alike. sometimes, the best idea even wins.
anyway, i know i've made arguments for both sides of the equation here. perhaps i am my very own marketplace of ideas.

well, now that i've wonked off for a bit, here's what i think's going to happen, which i set down solely and only as a record against which i can later measure myself.
i think obama wins iowa, by a small but not negligible margin. he's got the momentum, and from what i hear there're going to be a lot of independents and even disaffected republicans caucusing with the democrats, and they like him.
edwards comes in second. he's been working the state for four or five years now, has the ground game, and speaks middle american better than any of the top three.
hillary posts up at third, and the patina of inevitability that she, her handlers, and msm have been painting her with for the last several months is revealed for the illusion it always was. it's a shame, really. i very much want america to get grown up enough to have a woman president (and eventually get to the point where a candidate's gender doesn't matter, but hey, one step at a time), but man does she ever rub me the wrong way. she's as fake as bill, but without the charm or the humanity. and it's not like the clinton years were super-awesome if you were an actual progressive; they just look that way from here.
on the republican side, i think romney and huckabee split the vote so closely that it's a virtual tie, with ron paul being the real story, even though he comes in third, because noone actually takes him seriously as a candidate (aside, that is, from actual voters who still believe in the old version of conservatism, the one actually grounded in real americanism, not this new imperialistic armageddonite bullshit).

if nothing else, i'm just glad that someone besides the pundits and the columnists can finally get a word in edgewise, because i am really fucking sick of these fucking blowhards pretending they speak for us when they're so very much a part of the problem.