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Mistaken Identity

« October 2014 »

Memo to American politics: YOU ARE DUMB.

As an avid follower of American politics, I often wonder what the fuck is wrong with me. I mean, I could barely stand three weeks of the uniformly awful place that is Westeros, but eleven years following the cesspool of horrible and dumb that is American politics? Sign me up for that!

Case in point - Obama's recent "on the ballot" comments and the reaction that followed.

If you haven't seen it, you're lucky, and I'm about to ruin it for you. Sorry about that. Obama was making his big economic speech at Northwestern University last week, and said this. ACTUAL STARTING QUOTE TIME!

"I am not on the ballot this fall. Michelle is pretty happy about that. But make no mistake: These policies are on the ballot — every single one of them."

This is very true, up to a point*. Not that people are actually going to the polls with the thought that if you want a higher minimum wage, vote for the Democrat, and if you don't, vote for the Republican. That would make a lot more sense than the current setup. But it does sort of work that way only backwards. If you're a Republican, you vote for the Republican, which means you're against a higher minimum wage, because Obama's for it, and as a Republican, you hate Obama. So yeah, he's on the ballot in all the congressional races next month.

Republicans seized on this, because I guess they don't know how the system already works even though their attitudes are a big part of the reason the system works like that. It got used in attack ads by Republicans like Pat Roberts in Kansas. Democrats being Democrats, Republicans attacking them caused an all-too-familiar response.

"It was obvious when you saw the speech that that was not the way the clip was going... It was a mistake." - former Obama speechwriter David Axelrod.

If a "mistake" is defined as saying that Democrats stand for certain ideas, well, that certainly explains the last two decades of Democratic Party rhetoric. If a "mistake" is defined as not putting anything in a speech that Republicans can take out of context and make sound bad, well, David Axelrod certainly made a lot of those mistakes during his tenure.

The fear, of course, is that this will hurt Democrats in conservative states, who win election basically by trying to convince their state that they're Republicans and that their opponents are monsters. Which is admirable from a "truth in advertising" standpoint, but really not particularly helpful toward the larger goal, which is to slow the inevitable slide into the abyss at least long enough for me and mine to get out if it in one piece.

*That point being where the incumbency advantage thanks to fundraising and gerrymandering makes it largely irrelevant what you decide about who you want to vote for and why, of course.

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