It is a fascinating election season if you are into depressing scenarios for the US. Having stated that none of these three is worthy of being dog-catcher, we are now in the 'dog-catcher trainee' department of US politics. With Republicans unable to understand that not standing for those things you ran on being important to their own base, they, as a whole, started to wander out into the Leftist wilderness of Congress back in the mid-1990's. The Democrats found that the Leftist wilderness didn't offer any learning opportunities, save to teach Republicans how to put in more earmarks, expand the federal budget, create nannystate legislation and, generally, look to feather their own nests at the expense of the taxpayer. Now we have *two* parties that do that in the US.
One of my long-term views is that there is no 'center' in US politics: the polarization of the two political parties to more strident positions is an effect of the center walking out on US politics. The trends from that shift by not voting are clear and apparent: more legislation to regulate individual behavior, more regulation to proscribe what citizens can and cannot do in their lives, and the shift to the idea that the government regulates the economy in detail and has some role in financial well-being. The center, by being unable to gain a voice in these things via the two party system walked out on it. Today the firm basis of the two parties is the belief in 'activist government' to cure every social and societal ill by the force of government and the law. That becomes State control over society and liberty, not the protector of those things for the greatest free exercise by the individual of them. It is that foundation that the three remaining candidates stand upon. As Jonah Goldberg points out: Fascism is Right Socialism and Communism is Left Socialism and the Center is Socialism.
Note that the ideals of liberal democracy are not present in that formulation.
Sen. John McCain is a case in point: by trying to be 'bi-partisan' he is looking to go between the Left and the Right, while taking dogged stances on military affairs he does not step away from government interventionism for things like Global Warming. His major problem is that this 'center' is the type of center that would be seen in Social Democratic parties in Europe: Socialism on the sliding scale of 'one spoonful at a time'. Social Democratic parties in Europe pre-WWI bemoaned the ideal of International Socialism ever working and signed up for where the population was - in support of Nation States. In Germany it was the SPD that was in power because it stood by that formulation, and finally would be unable to control the outcome of US intervention in WWI and the Left Socialism that appeared to be taking shape in Russia. In that tradition of regulating work hours, regulating industry, supporting military affairs, and using progressive attitudes towards State based control of ever more in life, we see the modern conception of Sen. McCain. He is weak on economic understanding, more than able to put in legislation for endorsement of affirmative action goals, seeking to utilize the power of the State to tell citizens what they do or do not need in local affairs, and, generally, performing a soft-socialist trend by seeking to address the non-problem of Global Warming even for the deep and severe industrial impacts that would have if given fruition. From Social Security to health care, there is the idea that government will always 'find a way' even when its job is to let citizens find that way without government help. These outlooks of wanting to have the government do *more* are the things that the center has walked out on, and the recognition is that his 'base' is on the Statist side of the Republican party and the weakly individualistic side of the Democratic party. It is this same strain that has caused economic decay and hardship in Europe with short work weeks, small families, an unsustainable 'social safety net', lowered standards for health care, and the need to pull in poor workers to do actual work, even if they are from backgrounds radically different to the host society and undermining it.
Sen. Barack Obama - Nothing says Communism like 'hope & change' with banners, slogans and iconic images drawn in the cast of the working man from Stalinist Russia to Nazi Germany. His nonexistant record and non-voting record allows Sen. Obama to try and hide his past associations with the hard, anti-American left, organized crime, and a view that the US has lost some standing in the world because we haven't been 'nice' to dictators, thugs and tyrants. His stance is blatantly anti-military, anti-industrial, anti-liberty and unwilling to see any part of life where government shouldn't be involved. If the ideal of the Progressive era was to reshape the American mind via taking over educational institutions and marginalizing vocational schools, then Sen. Obama is the outcome of decades of elitism bent towards producing people who have a disdain for manual labor and the people who do it. If Sen. McCain is a Democratic Socialist, then Sen. Obama is a Communist of the Internationalist/Transnationalist stripe, wanting to work with those who have a disdain for human liberty and to appease them. Any time we hear a word about 'post-partisan' times, we hear of governments enforcing its dictates via military and police means so as to wipe out all opposing views. Pol Pot was certainly 'post-partisan' as was Mao Tse Tung, Josef Stalin, Benito Mussolini, Adolph Hitler, Saddam Hussein, Ayatollah Khomeini, Robert Mugabe, Hugo Chavez, Fidel Castro... being 'post-partisan' means squelching all other viewpoints, often with ruthless means, so as to establish a dicatorship or one-party rule in a Nation. His proposed budget programs and disarmament programs are suicidal in a world with huge budget deficits by the government and an unsustainable health care system that gets worse as more people are added to it.
Sen. Hillary Clinton - I have described her outlook before, examining how her personal and professional life interact as a whole. Even without a mental condition underlying her actions, they do conform to an outlook of the world that is manipulative, conniving, disingenuous, and willing to send friends out to 'take one for her' even if the friend doesn't know that is going to happen. Her methods, like that of her husband's, are fixed while their actual outlook is amenable to whatever gets applause and plaudits and ensures that criticism gets undermined by distractions. This is 'triangulation' and started off this election season with Sen. Clinton 'triangulating' to the Left to try and suck out Sen. Obama's support. That was seen as disingenuous, called as such and she started losing primaries as the monied Left interests of Soros and Geffen ensured that Sen. Obama would have time to gain applause while saying not very much. These interests know that they must win, or Sen. Clinton will extract revenge as she has done to other political foes along with her husband Pres. Clinton. Because there is only a general Leftist ideology in Sen. Clinton, she found herself unable to confront the Communist formulations of Sen. Obama, and so moved to the Nationalist and working class formulations deeper in the roots of the old Democratic party. This is becoming a form of Nationalist based Socialism or Right Socialism, and would require only a single 'triangulation' back to supporting Iraq to complete that cycle. Sen. Clinton started out with an amalgam base of some hard Left, some moderate Left and a very few Nationalist Left, plus a whole bunch of skeletons to pull out of closets. Because she was blinded by Leftist views, she could not see nor find the skeletons in Sen. Obama's closets and only when taking up a the more socially conservative track did Sen. Clinton begin to get traction - she has found her Base. This track of Social Conservative/Economic Liberal is one being seen in the Republican party under the Aegis of Gov. Huckabee, and they both revolve in the same demographic trends and regions. While Gov. Huckabee did not find these roots in the Republican party, Sen. Clinton did in the Democratic party. This is highly worrying to both parties as these folks from central New York State down the Appalachians and into the Arkansas, Missouri and northern Mississippi and Alabama represent a formulation of American life generally not being served by the modern world. Because of their Nationalist stance, they move to the military hero, Sen. McCain, giving Sen. Obama a headache across that entire region that has little in common with Big City elitists. Because Sen. Clinton has no honor of keeping positions, however, she also is risking her career and having to come to terms with these people: being anti-war and pro-military is a very hard thing to do, especially when Iraq is turning around, FARC is failing in Colombia (a job her husband started, BTW and yet she takes no credit there), and Mexico is slowly sliding into organized crime based insurgency. What Sen. Clinton is *not* however, is suicidal in her politics: calculating, ruthless, cold, hard... those terms describe it.
Now to the one other thing they all have in common: Senator.
These three represent the cause of social disintegration by government control even when the record is scant, in the case of Sen. Obama, each of these three has the strange belief that government is there to 'help' the citizenry. That is not a formulation from classical roots, but one which comes more from the inculcation of Socialism into western liberal politics and was a slow replacement for Monarchism. Although Monarchist supporting parties were already dying by the mid-19th century, the rise of Progressivism brought back a wider view of State control via a ruling elect or select class. Nobility is replaced by learned individuals and experts, and with government power in hand they will dictate for the society what to do. By the late 20th century, after the era of Progressive politics ran its course in the US, stopping in major steps with the mid-1970's and the end of the Nixon Administration, the two party system had shifted its basis due to the apparent success of large government projects. The decay and downfall of societal projects, particularly housing and ghettoization, as opposed to engineering ones, was apparent in the late 1970's as the Welfare State was turning into a permanent underclass. The last, great upwelling of classical views started in 1980 (in government, although preceded in the early 1960's by Goldwater) and would culminate in the restriction of welfare under a triangulating Leftist President and Republican controlled Congress. The other values of that upwelling were never addressed: smaller government, lest activist government, removing government intrusion from the life of citizens, fiscal responsibility by cutting government first, ensuring the safety of the nation, and upholding equality under the law for all citizens and no breaks for *anyone* based on race, class or wealth.
Those latter got tossed under the bus.
Also note those are not 'tax cuts': it is a formulation of lower taxation by having minimal government necessary to do its work. Fiscal responsibility is not biting off more than you can chew and then asking for a better class of wine to try and wash it down: you spit it out as no matter how good it tastes it just can't be swallowed. That is what the 'center' that has walked out is trying to achieve by 'gridlock' and ever more partisan parties - the immobilization of activist government. None of these three candidates represents that.
On military affairs in the arena of getting Iraq, Afghanistan and Colombia done right, Sen. McCain does well, but do note a triangulation strategy to go after political opponents would do Sen. Clinton well if she aims to keep her base. Sen. Obama fails.
On diplomatic affairs, especially in dealing with the decaying nature of Nation to Nation relations and the slow slide of Europe into Eurabia, none of these three have bought a clue. While Sen. McCain opposes Russia, he has problems getting a staff to weed out Red Mafia types of the highest order, as seen in Davos meeting with Oleg Depripaska, who had given a good payout to Bob Dole for a visa. As it is likely that one of the major sub-groups in the Red Mafia is supplying money and arms to Mexico for their own reasons, confronting Russia will now start in Mexico as the Russian government is decayed to the point where major functions are corrupted by the Red Mafia. If the Red Mafia can use influence in Turkmenistan to put screws to Iran, think of them getting a portion of the Mexican petro game and doing that to the US. Supporting friends and allies and punishing those opposing freedom and liberty is beyond the grasp of these three candidates, it is a loss for all of them.
National Security does not start in Iraq but at home and the border. An understanding of diplomacy, organized crime, economics and US global interest might prevent Mexico from sliding farther into decay. Sen. McCain has now waffled repeatedly on this issue with regards to illegal immigration and the rule of law and that is making our enemies bolder as the Right goes soft on law enforcement. The other two have no problems with not enforcing the law, save for when they want it done to punish only those that threaten them, not the Nation. US economic interests require a long term agenda to encourage private industry to research, develop and deploy new energy technologies and slowly shift the Nation from a liquid fuel based economy. None of them have put that on the agenda and have offered retrograde stances via Global Warming views. Those will empower the oil supplying Nations via cash infusions, and many of those are not all too amenable to democracy or liberty. That direct connection for National Security is not made by any of the three candidates, and all are lethal to US long term survival.
In Economic affairs, each of these three seem to be beholden to relatively antiquated ideas of trade and protectionism. None of made a central point of linking trade to the foundations of democracy and liberty abroad so as to secure ours at home. Increased trade with authoritarian regimes or totalitarian ones may give us economic incentives, but costs humanity the benefit of having more freedom and liberty supported by trade globally. Trading with people under such regimes is not empowering them, but keeping them under such systems via bribery and goods. The failure of trade to garner liberty and freedom in the Middle East (since 1917), China (since the mid-1970's), Yugoslavia (late 1970's) or Mexico (since the mid-1990's) points to a political failure to understand that trade is not a causation of liberty but a creator of it. Trading with unfree peoples does not give them freedom nor the liberty to have full lives out from under the control of officious and dictatorial regimes. This is a leading causal factor for the slow decrease in liberty at home as the US no longer supports free people via trade. As this has been a bi-partisan failure spanning decades, none of the candidates will recognize their failures to address this in a meaningful way.
Domestic Tranquility is not being addressed by any of the three candidates. The divisiveness of this election season is a fallout of a plurality walkout by the Center and this election will most likely mark the turning point of that being a Majority for Presidential and Congressional elections. While Sen. Obama has 'registered' more people to vote for him, that is currently in the 5-6% of those not voting, which is substantial on a party basis, but not substantial on a National basis as it is such a small amount compared to the size of the population uninterested in politics. The demographic concentration of those people in States are those of upper-income whites or the young and college educated, none of which has been influential in elections under the modern primary based systems, and the latter have been 'no-shows' in National elections. What is worrying is the larger inter-party percentages that may not vote from both parties, with that running between 10-30% on the Democratic side and 10-15% on the Republican side and those tend to be mirrored, as a whole, in the 'non-affiliated' voters not directly aligned to parties. A 10% walkout by those that normally vote will shift the entire representative democracy of the US into a near majority non-voting scenario. Any more and the it is a majority of the population not voting. As 'voter outreach' by the parties and the candidates is not bringing these individuals in with substantial numbers, and there are no countervailing indicators of actual enthusiasm for the upcoming election, the US will be moved into a state of Domestic Tranquility put at peril by the two party system and its candidates unwilling to address the broader needs of the Nation in a meaningful way. This is not 'divisive politics', pre se, but the division between the two political parties and the large portion of America who are not voting for them. As the common ground disappeared, the two parties no longer needed to address it and they became polarized. Thus this is not a 50/50 America, but a 30/30/30/10, with the last 10% those that have been disaffected completely, the remaining 30 is the disaffected and walk-outs.
From those things, my vote as an individual being placed along those lines, sees no benefit in any of the three candidates, for all their differences on Iraq. If Sen. McCain was an un-maverick, able to guarantee the gridlock between Republicans and Democrats by holding traditional Republican values, then it would be an easy vote choice to make. As he, instead, adheres the 'third way' of just wanting to get more government and pay for it, the allowance that government should do more is omnipresent with him, and that negates, for me, any positive stance on Iraq as the threats to the Nation are far larger, deeper and longer than Iraq and do not include Global Warming. Getting Iraq 'right' is necessary but not sufficient to long-term stability for the US and Sen. McCain is one step above Sen. Clinton who appears to be on the slow triangulation course to something similar. And as her new base is unconnected to that of Sen. Obama, she can afford to offend the hard Left while ensuring her base is looked after, and their more traditionalist values will include the Truman idea of a Marshal Plan to make sure those citizens of Nations defeated have a chance to stand for themselves. If Sen. Clinton makes that swing before the Democratic convention, by 'triangulating' progress in Iraq with a drawdown but longer-term 'peace-keeping' support (yes, via military means), the threat to Sen. McCain is deep if she can win on that in the convention. It is a steep road for her to do so, but is one aimed at a part of the Republican party that Sen. Obama has a hard time touching after Rev. Wright - Gov. Huckabee followers. For all of Gov. Huckabee's good naturedness on the Wright affair, his followers trend towards traditionalist christian values, not engendered in Sen. Obama's belief system. Sen. Obama, however, due to his strident stances, will have any ability to do that shifting negated by his previous positions, unless he wants a party dissolving under him after getting the nomination.
What Sen. McCain has been unable to do is address the Traditionalist conservatives (the non-Huckabee flip-side of the Social Conservatives) and his key stances against smaller government. That base has spread slowly since Ronald Reagan and feels 'out in the cold', and yet will not see either Sen. Clinton or Obama as viable for their views. These do not, by definition, default to Sen. McCain if Sen. Clinton is not running: they can join the exodus started in 1968 in the Democratic party and further polarize the socialists remaining in the two parties. If Sen. Clinton does run, they may see an opportune time to 'vote the opposition' as it will hold the same views as the one from the Republican party in an attempt to fracture the Republican party and try to shake out the more socialist leaning groups and become a minority party.
That 'swing vote' from the Democratic party, the blue/pink/low-white collar Appalachian to Southern Democratic base that looks to hold the future of the US for this election cycle. Their brethren across the 'bible-belt' into the lower mid-west and then in the inter-mountain areas of the western States are becoming the swing demographic. Mostly because they have families beyond replacement rate and place more value on work than getting a degree. That is becoming the US swing-vote and it is very disturbing to have Sen. Clinton as their temporary representative in this primary season.
What form of socialism do you want this time around?
The Doe-eyed Left, willing to meet with thugs and dictators because they are 'misunderstood', and say 'I'm sorry' to them when our citizens get killed?
The Squishy Center that just can't seem to want to regulate everything immediately, just increase that heat until everything in the pot is mush?
The Crunchy Right still looking to take things over because what we all need is to be managed by bureaucrats?
Because no matter who you vote *for* it is socialism you will get this election.