posted Feb 02, 2008
in Politics

Ignorance is bliss.

Therefore, political ignorance is bliss.

The Internet has brought us a high level of political coverage and punditry available at a click. With that, many more people now have detailed dossiers on every political candidate in the nomination process. And what has this knowledge brought us?


It brings us the startling revelation that there isn't a single candidate that we entirely agree with. When we (as a whole) pretty much paid attention to the campaign two weeks before the election, and made our decisions on the comparatively information-poor television coverage of the candidates, it was much easier to project our wishes and desires on the candidates, and vote based on the broad ideological platforms of the parties and the blanks we filled in.

Now the merely politically-interested of today have the detail only the politically-obsessive could have twenty years ago; we know the presidential candidates' attitudes on whether or not the Confederate flag is flown, exactly how they feel about the recovery prospects of the automotive industries, and a million other little details, not to mention the hundreds of big details, each of which is an opportunity to diverge from your personal ideal, each of which is a chance to push a Button that makes you say I'll never vote for that person!

I've watched with amusement over the past few days as the blogosphere comes to grips with the fact that "my favorite candidate" is not going to win on the Republican side, and McCain is going to win. (Note I'm not endorsing the "McCain is certain to win" position; I think people have the nasty habit of assuming that nothing can change in politics, despite the abundant evidence that the truth is that nothing ever stays the same. I'm also amused by the number of putatively-experienced pundits that make this mistake day-in, day-out for years at a time; I cynically imagine at least some of them do know better and just pretend otherwise.) McCain fails various ideological tests, cry the conservatives/libertarians/etc., and so I can't vote for him. If that means the opposition gets in, opposition which not only fails my tests but laughs in the face of them, well, so be it. America must Learn A Lesson about deviating from my ideology, then they shall come back to me.

Today it's the Republicans experiencing the sudden desire for purity, but the Democratic blogosphere has had its own forays into the purity uber alles meme; remember Lamont v. Leiberman? The lesson here is for everyone.

A new generation is poised to learn what the politically obsessed, including politicians themselves, have always known: Politics is the art of compromise. Hardly a new idea, I know. But in the blogosphere today, this is dissension!

The fact is, you never get your perfect candidate. If you think you are getting your perfect candidate, you're simply not looking closely enough to find the relevant differences. You're much better off thinking of candidates as pulling the country in a direction you'd like it to go; the candidate as a journey, not a destination.

"100% or nothing" is simply a guarantee that you'll end up with nothing.

 

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