Thursday, January 03, 2008

a BIG reason for marijuana legalization

I think what many peeps in the blogosphere aren't really getting is that many, many people in this country are looking for "post-partisan" figures like Obama not because they think all partisanship is bad (though they may couch their arguments to sound like that) but because they think it's gone too far.

They've spent the last several years listening to politicians and pundits escalate their partisan rhetoric to the point of absurdity, now calling each other "traitors" and "Satanic" and "objectively pro-terrorist" and "Nazi" and "Stalinist" (sometimes applying all of them to the same person) on increasingly politicized TV News networks and radio stations. They just saw a Christmas commercial from one particular candidate-- as part of a bevy of political Christmas ads ostensibly trying to tone down the partisanship for the holiday season, no less-- featuring a Santa Claus that hates the Democratic presidential candidates. Speaking for myself, it was probably the creepiest campaign commercial I've ever seen.

And that's all before they even get on the internet.

They've noticed conversations with friends and family on politics becoming increasingly uncomfortable and emotionally charged, and may have even inadvertently damaged some of their relationships.

They're watching Congress and the president marshaling ever more arcane practices and questionable logic to try to force each other's hand on legislation because compromise in the Senate has become virtually impossible (in the Senate!), thanks largely to a record-setting rate of filibuster by Senate Republican leadership, who have openly admitted their intention of paralyzing the government for as long as possible and blaming it on the Democrats. Thus our problems go untreated and continue to fester, ultimately becoming more fodder for the spin war, yet no steps are taken to solve them (in fact, more than a few people think Democrats don't particularly want to fix any problems early because that would result in less fodder).

Granted, I think this view is insufficiently critical of the GOP, who are in my opinion almost entirely to blame for the gridlock. Democrats haven't fought as hard as they perhaps could by taking issues to the Supreme Court, refusing funding for the war, or sending the congressional Sargeant-at-arms to arrest Bush Administration members guilty of contempt of Congress, for instance, but I can at least sympathize with the desire not to set up a constitutional crisis.

I can also sympathize with the desire to see the spirit of compromise restored to Washington, even though I also understand that "people disagree about stuff" and that we don't all want the same things and that's ok. The problem is, right now the legislative sabotage has gotten so pervasive that nobody's getting anything done, and the rhetoric on the radio and TV and online has gotten so heated that, on both sides, discussion of the political opposition and other adversaries often becomes dehumanizing and even eliminationist.

For many people, I suspect, toning that down is about as high a priority as health care or Iraq, which may partially explain why Barack Obama, he of the "One America" 2004 speech, is making so much headway among such stiff competition, and for that matter why he's finding himself with so much support among non-Democrats.

No comments: