Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Blue Cups

You don't have to read this blog very long or very often to get the idea that I'm utterly disgusted and cynical about the state of our current political situation here in the US of A. I can't stand either Republicans (who are overly simplistic, smug, and self-righteous) or Democrats (who are disorganized, unrealistic, and frequently silly). Both, in their own way, are fiscally irresponsible and more interested in scoring cheap political shots against the opposition than in squarely facing and solving problems ...
Many readers get the idea from my comments here that I'm left-leaning Democrat, because I tend to dump heavily on Republicans. Not so. As I've said before, if I'm a lot harder on Republicans, it's because - as a generally conservative fellow myself - I think I should be able to expect more from them: better ideas and better behavior, rather than the relentless parroting of stupid slogans and constant pandering to the farthest-right political-religious wing of the party.

I like to describe myself as an "Independent" who is "fiscally conservative and socially liberal," but even that description has no meaning any more when the terms conservative and liberal have morphed into cheap insults, dripping with scorn when used in ubiquitous attack ads.

Yesterday I ran across a brilliant article that sums up one of the biggest differences between Republicans and Democrats: The Parable of the Blue Cup, written by Jeff Greenfield. In it, he describes a discussion with Nancy Pelosi (the House Minority Leader), who explained the biggest problem faced by the Democrats using the imagery of a blue cup sitting on her table. She said,

"When the Republican leadership tells its members, 'there is a blue cup on the table,' every Republican repeats, 'there is a blue cup on the table' ... When I tell my fellow Democrats, 'there is a blue cup on the table,' one will say 'there is a blue cup on a round table.' Another will say, 'there is a blue cup next to Nancy Pelosi's cup.' Another: 'a blue cup on a brown table.'" And I say, 'why did you say that?' ... "And the answer is: 'because it's true.'"

Her point - a very good one - was that the Democrats lack the ability to present a single, coherent message. The Republicans, for all their faults, are really, really good at sticking relentlessly to a simple, direct message. That message may be overly simplistic and unrealistic, but they hammer away at it with the relentless consistency of those who have found and embraced The Ultimate Truth.

Consistency of message is a good thing, but it only works if you have a message worth transmitting. The Republican mantras of Government Is Always Bad, Cut Taxes, and Slash Government Spending make for great bumper stickers, but are not necessarily effective ways of addressing the snakepit of interrelated problems the next president will have to face. Reasonable people will agree to disagree on the optimum size and powers of government, the proper amount and levying of taxes, and how the government should spend its money ... but we are short of reasonable people at the moment. The "discussion" consists of take-it-or-leave-it plans put forward by one or the other party in the sure knowledge that the opposition will torpedo them, followed by each party decrying the intransigence of the other.

I don't care what color the cup is, as long as we can agree that the cup is necessary if we want to be able to drink. Let's quit the stupid politics of the bumper sticker and see some leadership and principled compromise.

Unfortunately, I'm not holding my breath. And neither should you. And you know which party I support ...

Remember Bilbo's First Law: Don't let anyone else do your thinking for you. It's more important now than ever.

Have a good day. Think past the simple message. More thoughts tomorrow.



eViL pOp TaRt said...

We have a reasonably large cup; but one party wants to have it relatively empty, while the other wants it to contain more than it can. Both parties have managed to Pavlovian condition their adhenerents to understand the terms "liberal" or "conservative" as scare words. We might actually need a new political vocabulary, as those terms both have too much extra baggage.

Ken K said...

Really enjoyed this one, Bill. I vote for you.

Elvie Fornshell said...

Well said, Bill.
I just wish the politicians would keep their minds and hearts open to do what is good for the nation and its people.
Guess that is asking too much of our current political system. They gotta get elected so they are beholden to those with the big bucks to get them elected.

Mike said...

Any politician that sticks their head into the moderate arena will have it immediately cut off.

Anonymous said...

How dare you insinuate cups have colors! Or even mention the word 'color' should be 'containers of porous pigmentation'...(since people in politics change their mind so frequently!!)

-Guess Who :)