Sunday, August 31, 2008

Cognitive Dissonance

First let me thank readers of the Intrepid Liberal Journal for their patience. I’m still struggling to resolve my tech issues and continue to only have dial up access. Also, thanks for the emails asking if I’m OK. Rest assured I am fine and even with dialup I wanted to post some of the thoughts rattling in my head.

As we approach the final stretch of this presidential campaign I remain frustrated by the cognitive dissonance among the media and the public. Conventional wisdom suggests that Senator Obama represents dramatic change – almost revolutionary. Senator John McCain however is a conservative maverick we can trust as commander and chief even if we may disagree with him on other issues.

To a large extent this cognitive dissonance was reinforced by Obama’s selection of Senator Joe Biden as his running mate. The commentariat and punditocracy consistently repeated the meme that Obama was addressing his “weaknesses” in his selection of Joe Biden as a “reassuring” figure. Meanwhile, John McCain has once again demonstrated his maverick touch by selecting Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.

It seems to me however that John McCain is neither conservative nor a maverick. John McCain is a radical nationalist and zealous proponent of American exceptionalism. His running mate is a compelling person with admirable qualities. It’s impossible not to like her or respect how Governor Palin challenged Alaska’s entrenched corrupt political establishment – a cause many bloggers on both the left and right have an affinity for.

However, Governor Palin is not a person to challenge Republican orthodoxy with respect to cultural issues or global warming. Nor will she represent any counterweight to the neocons that inhabit McCain’s foreign policy shop. Hence, Palin’s selection only reinforces that McCain is captive to the Christian radicals in his own party and has no interest in empowering any counterweight against the radical global vision the Bush/Cheney administration disastrously pursued. Simply put, Governor Palin being a heartbeat away from the presidency is no better than the prospect of John McCain becoming president.

As for Senator Obama my fear is that his presidency would be too risk averse and fail to boldly challenge the mindset that produced our current occupation in Iraq or dramatically reverse the crony corporatism that pervades our culture and economy. Obama will facilitate adjustments in the tax code to provide relief for wage earners and with an enhanced Democratic majority deliver something on healthcare. I’m also reasonably confident his selections to the Supreme Court and the federal bench as a whole will have more respect for the Constitution, civil liberties and protecting whistle blowers who tell truth to power. These are not unimportant things.

However, I am not confident that Obama will come up with a bold new economic and social contract like FDR. This country needs a dramatic overhaul in infrastructure as well as committing to the vision expressed by former Vice President Al Gore that we end our dependence on fossil fuels. So far, I’m not seeing or hearing any evidence beyond platitudes that an Obama presidency will be sufficiently bold. In fairness to Obama though, FDR’s 1932 presidential campaign wasn’t especially bold either.

My sense however is that the Obama/Biden ticket represents a restoration of the corporate centrism of George Herbert Walker Bush and Bill Clinton. This brand of corporate centrism cultivates cooperative relationships among democracies and strategic rivals in the name of “stability.”

Under such a regime, when America doesn’t appear to have a dog in a fight such as genocide in Rawanda in the early ‘90s there is a good chance force will not be used. When our energy supply is threatened, as it was when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1991, our military will be deployed. Corporate centrism is more socially moderate when the president is a Democrat and certainly preferable to McCain. If nothing else governments will not be toppled gratuitously and allies needlessly alienated. But it’s not good enough.

So my message to all like-minded progressives is that while the cause is better served with a President Obama the fight does not end there. A progressive reform majority is essential in congress as well as state legislatures and governor mansions from coast to coast if America is to become better global citizens abroad that also promotes dignity and economic citizens for all our citizens at home.

Ironically, Obama himself, a community organizer in his youth has advocated for the American people to push for change from the bottom up. So while I am not convinced Obama will be out front on the change we need perhaps his presidency can be a catalyst to the public mobilizing in a direction of national renewal on behalf of working people, civil liberties and social justice. At least I hope so.


upinVermont said...

Nice to see a post.

Palin appears to be a good housekeeper with an authoritarian streak. Palin's belief in creationism, that the earth is 6,000 years old, tells us alot about her independence and intellectual vigor - namely that she possesses very little of either. No one with any sort of intellectual rigor would ever endorse creationism in any way shape or form. She is obviously a very ignorant person with either a disinterest in, willful ignorance of, or an inability to grasp modern science and modern human inquiry in general.

This would also explain her abjectly simplistic comments concerning climate science. She doesn't grasp it, so she doesn't believe it. This portends a simple-minded woman who can't be bothered to investigate a reality that conflicts with preconceived beliefs. 'Cognitive Dissonance". This failing seems to be a hallmark of many Republicans. Easier to live in a state of denial than give up cherished prejudices.

An independent minded person does not take, verbatim, the teachings of a tribes living in the desert 2,000 & 3,000 years ago.

If she bucked the system, it probably wasn't for the benefit of the system but out of a sense of moral self-righteousness, self interest and self importance. She obviously had no scruples when it came time to dip into the pork barrel. If the dismissal of her brother has any bite, it would confirm the same. Her morals are narrow and self-serving.

In this sense, she has far more in common with George Bush than with John McCain. Interesting, eh?

The only difference, so far, is that she appears to be mildly brighter George Bush. I think you might change your mind about not being able to dislike her.

thepoetryman said...

She took on the big boys just to become one of them. Except in her case she is a creationist, anti-abortion (or as some would call it Pro-Life, I just think it isn't pro-life when abortion is the only issue the zealots use in their agenda), she's a member of 2 radical Christian groups that are end of times mentality, she says she fought against many entrenched idealogues but in truth she's just an amateur magician, she strongarmed public officials, she is embroiled in a scandal regarding her ex-brother in law, she was for the bridge to nowhere before she was agin' it, she opposed crucial education, health care and seniors funding, as Mayor of Wasilla she left them with a huge debt, she's in thick with big oil unless you take her word for it, cut funds for renewable energy, loves tax increases for the middle to lows, anti-choice, against marriage equality and supports a federal gay-marriage ban, she believes schools should teach creationism, drill, drill, drill, has connections to Joel’s Army (a movement by radical Dominionists to build an informal paramilitary organization to prepare to fight to impose a kind of Christian fascism on the world.)

I do not find Palin compelling in the least, if anything she is more of the same (Cheneyesque, if you will). I do not see her admirable qualities, as far as her politics are concerned and her family life I could really give two beans about. It is easy to not like Mrs. Palin's politics and that is the reason the country, outside of Alaska, was introduced to her. I do not respect her anymore than I respect McCain and his judgment.

Not much else I need to say, save for "good to see you're posting again"!

opit said...

Cognitive Dissonance is a useful euphamism, I'm sure. I've heard more earthy descriptions.

Palin Rules said...

First of all I would like to take time to thank all you people who are reading this.And now I would like to know how people can actually bring themselves to vote for a socialist who wants to make it law that you can kill babies even after they're born.And that even if someone is wanting to kill you you cannot own a gun to defend yourself.And wants to make it cheaper to get medically assisted suicide than life saving medication.And wants to make us energy dependant on Islamic Jihadists who threaten to kill us almost hourly.And would cut and run to leave our allies to rot when we are winning.And would downgrade our military and arsenal to a token force that would lose to a third world country.Now,with all this evidence,and more,against voting for him how could you possibly in your right mind still say that you will?And if you are wondering I will not be posting again,I have no intentions of getting depressed by people insulting me to make themselves feel better.Signed,Palin Rules