Thursday, November 15, 2012

Party of One (Thursday LINKS)

In post-election conversations, I've spoken with a good number of people that are Registered X but voted for Y Party's candidate.  I almost have the refrain memorized:  "If X Party would just give up on (blank) issue, and focus more on (blank), I would have supported them."

We live in a customized world.  Entertainment, employment, education, and even news has been whittled down from a communal shared experience to one that has been designed specifically for YOU.  Eating whatever sub combination found itself wrapped in saran wrap is sooo 1980's.  Subways wants you to have it your way.  Four primary networks for news?  Pssh.  Here's the Internet where anyone can take the microphone.  Encyclopedia?  Meet Wikopedia.

It seems predictable we would expect the same from our political parties.  A little fiscal conservatism (we all love how that sounds, don't we?) a little social liberalism (means so many different things to different people) and...Ta Da!  "This is the party that I think would win."

But that position comes from a presumption of entitlement.  "I am a voter.  Both parties want more voters.  They should do what I say!"  While in reality, political party planks are made up of those who have made themselves heard.  Voting blocks, advocacy groups, monied interests.  (And we've found ourselves in a cynical nose dive, let me Denzel Washington this baby and...we're back).

What I mean to say is that political parties are big, awkward, careening giants, stumbling through a field of china shops.  You should not expect them to make you happy and, more often than not, they will make you mad.  They cannot hear you and will not bend down to listen.  The only thing giants care about are other giants. 

Name an issue: Abortion, same-sex marriage, civil rights, taxes, energy, environment, education.  Those that are heard on these issues are people who have made their interests into giants.  They've done the hard work of cultivating support, raising funds, and speaking very loudly about their concerns.  Sure, it results in litmus test evaluation of candidates, but for a good segment of the population, regardless of how they may characterize themselves, they are litmus test voters.

Why do I say all this?  To bum everybody out because they are sad the giants aren't listening to them?  No.  I actually wanted to point out one of the more interesting victories of this past election.  The Howard County GOP Central Committee did not take a position on Question 6 (same-sex marriage).  This wasn't because Committee members said "You know, I think I heard Joe Smith grumble in his garage that he wishes the GOP would stay out of the marriage equality debate."  Instead, it was Central Committee members, like Dave Myers, noting that one of their elected officials had taken a position in favor of Question 6, and it would be better if the local GOP left the decision to the discretion of individual voters.  They agreed (with significant dissent).

The giant left one china shop undisturbed.  It will not buy future goodwill with the electorate.  Joe Smith probably still thinks the local GOP was carrying the party line.  But it showed how those with their hands in the dirt can have an influence on party decision-making.

If you really want a custom made party, and you think your view of the world is one that should be made into a giant, you need to get your hands dirty - either by making a giant yourself, or getting into the belly of the beast.  Otherwise, understand that there will never be complete congruence between your personal beliefs and the stumbling behemoths that are now racing towards 2014.  Crash crash crash.


A bit of an unorthodox link to start you day - check out this cartoon over at The Oatmeal about putting out online content.  His discussion of comments is pretty spot on (although I "resemble that remark" regarding daily posts).

The Atlantic has a great piece about the "real" scandal relating to General Petraeus, and it has nothing to do with a bone-headed affair.  Rather, the author looks at the dangers of militarizing the CIA, particularly regarding drone strikes.  "Um, yes, when you put it like that, it is much more scary and offensive.  Let's go back to talking about affairs."

The Board of Education is still undecided on what redistricting map it will adopt with (now) less than 24 hours to vote.  Make sure to watch the dissenters on this one.  Redistricting is a "cut the baby" vote, in which great numbers of people will be offended regardless of what passes.  Politically minded Board members are going to do whatever they can to keep their finger prints off the final outcome, and will raise a stink about "the people" and "the students" before voting "no". 

One of the unintended consequences of restricting future rural development is that property owners looking to eventually profit from their land have been pushed to develop earlier than they may have otherwise decided to in order to dodge the ban on septic and off-grid development projected for the near future.  For those of us who like driving along peaceful acres of farmland, that is a very bad thing.  The Mullinix brothers have seen the writing on the wall and are seeking to remove the County Agricultural Preservation easement that currently prevents them from developing the land.  In order to do so, they will have to prove that the land cannot be profitable through farming.  From my perspective, that seems like an overly onerous burden, but one that these property owners, or their predecessors, went into with their eyes open.  This will be an interesting case to follow.

Featured Blog Post of the Day: Julia does a great job putting community involvement in context: it's like cleaning a bathroom.  If that was in any way jarring for you to read, click over to the post.

That's all for today.  I hope to see a number of you at tonight's Columbia Foundation Annual Dinner.  It is National Philanthropy Day.  Do some good and have a great day doing what you love!