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  1. #71
    Senior Member avolkiteshvara's Avatar
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    Even with altruistic candidates, there comes a point when he/she internally faces the question of public morality vs. selfish greed.


    We don't have confidence in people to make ethical decisions when no one is looking. We don't trust human nature.

  2. #72
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    Quote Originally Posted by avolkiteshvara View Post
    Even with altruistic candidates, there comes a point when he/she internally faces the question of public morality vs. selfish greed.


    We don't have confidence in people to make ethical decisions when no one is looking. We don't trust human nature.
    At last the true issue rears it's ugly little head.

  3. #73
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lark View Post
    I've got to say I totally agree with that, I think the future of government, now that its becoming a sort of dynastic rule or professional political class is comparative government, somewhere like the US has the ability, if it chooses to use it, to create an internal environment permitting comparisons and contrasts for policy.

    The Swiss Cantons is another example of this sort of decentralist democracy, the only matter is that since it does not make change without consensus easy whatever you begin with, ie public ownership or private capitalism, will be slow to change to any other mode, despite any evidence.

    People dont really vote or hold ideologies on the basis of evidence.
    Ironically, because it's usually conservative, national change can also come very quickly and in huge proportion from the Supreme Court. Conservative liberalism is my ideal, though.

    As to the more general topic, if a person is sincere and principled politician, I think it's one of the most respectable and best things a person can do with their life.

  4. #74
    Senior Member Ruthie's Avatar
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    1. I sure hope politics is a respectable profession.

    2. I think part of the reason it isn't is because it's drilled in culturally. Same with distrust of the media.

    3. Politics today are MUCH cleaner than they were 50 or 60 years ago.

    4. Even the hated "backroom deals" are often necessary. The deals are almost always made to get policies in place, not to enrich the politicians (it's the exceptions to that rule who are often remembered).

    5. A politician is not automatically more respected for being "above the fray" or not playing the political game. There's actually something endearingly straight forward about transactional politics: "vote for me, and I'll give you a job..." "vote for me, and I'll put a school up in this town..." It doesn't always have to be about grand themes.

    6. Politics is about allocation of limited resources. There's no way to please everyone, so a "respectable" politician in my mind is someone who knows where they stand, isn't afraid to fight, and isn't above making the deals to get it done.

  5. #75
    Order Now! pure_mercury's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ruthie View Post
    1. I sure hope politics is a respectable profession.
    Why?


    2. I think part of the reason it isn't is because it's drilled in culturally. Same with distrust of the media.
    Are you implying that distrust of the government and the media is bad? If so, why?


    3. Politics today are MUCH cleaner than they were 50 or 60 years ago.
    Arguable. What exactly is cleaner nowadays?


    4. Even the hated "backroom deals" are often necessary. The deals are almost always made to get policies in place, not to enrich the politicians (it's the exceptions to that rule who are often remembered).
    What if the policies are the problem? Greed is not always monetary or individualized. Grabbing a slice of a very dirty pie for your home state or district is an example of greed. Lust for power is greed.


    5. A politician is not automatically more respected for being "above the fray" or not playing the political game. There's actually something endearingly straight forward about transactional politics: "vote for me, and I'll give you a job..." "vote for me, and I'll put a school up in this town..." It doesn't always have to be about grand themes.
    There is nothing endearing about that at all. It's patronage, and it's wrong.


    6. Politics is about allocation of limited resources. There's no way to please everyone, so a "respectable" politician in my mind is someone who knows where they stand, isn't afraid to fight, and isn't above making the deals to get it done.
    If politics is about allocation of limited resources, then Americans SHOULD hate politicians. That mindset is frightening.
    Who wants to try a bottle of merc's "Extroversion Olive Oil?"

  6. #76
    Dreaming the life onemoretime's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ruthie View Post
    1. I sure hope politics is a respectable profession.
    I'd hope our leaders are respectable people. I don't believe politicians are our leaders - they just do a job necessary for society. That job involves actions that most would consider unrespectable.

    2. I think part of the reason it isn't is because it's drilled in culturally. Same with distrust of the media.
    I think it's the nature of the job. Politics involves the distribution of massive amounts of resources. Given the nature of a republic, this involves a large number of compromises, because so many people have so many disparate interests. Consequently, deals will be brokered between two parties disinterested in the other's pet project. People of "moral conviction" see compromise as a somewhat immoral act, and therefore will find this to be unrespectable.

    Likewise, there will be other situations where there either is no good answer, or the political reality is that the best outcome will be one which sacrifices things that are important to you or your constituents. Many people find this level of ambiguity and prioritization to be somewhat distasteful.

    3. Politics today are MUCH cleaner than they were 50 or 60 years ago.

    In certain areas, like patronage and machine politics, yes. In others, like the fact that big business essentially owns our government to the point where they can essentially dictate policy and bills to legislators, not so much.

    4. Even the hated "backroom deals" are often necessary. The deals are almost always made to get policies in place, not to enrich the politicians (it's the exceptions to that rule who are often remembered).
    Absolutely.

    5. A politician is not automatically more respected for being "above the fray" or not playing the political game. There's actually something endearingly straight forward about transactional politics: "vote for me, and I'll give you a job..." "vote for me, and I'll put a school up in this town..." It doesn't always have to be about grand themes.
    It's like the old joke - everyone hates pork unless it's coming to their district. Let's face it, we elect our representatives and senators primarily for local reasons, not grand national political beliefs. We don't like guys like Murtha and Stevens, not because he built an airport or bridge in the middle of nowhere, but because that money wasn't being funneled to somewhere it would noticeably impact our own lives. And people wonder why these guys are consistently reelected.

    6. Politics is about allocation of limited resources. There's no way to please everyone, so a "respectable" politician in my mind is someone who knows where they stand, isn't afraid to fight, and isn't above making the deals to get it done.
    I think that's a perfectly valid definition.

  7. #77
    Senior Member Ruthie's Avatar
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    Wow - you have a problem with absolutely everything I post... alrighty...

    Quote Originally Posted by pure_mercury View Post
    Why?
    a) 'cause it's my profession; b) 'cause it IS respectable.


    Are you implying that distrust of the government and the media is bad? If so, why?
    That's exactly what I'm saying, at least at its current levels. I don't see how a society is possible unless we have some shared things that we basically trust.

    Arguable. What exactly is cleaner nowadays?
    LBJ used to brag about a vanishing ballot box in his first Congressional race. Truman came out of the Pendergast machine in Missouri. Don't get me wrong, I actually have kind of a soft spot for machine politics, so the fact that politics is "cleaner" now isn't always a positive thing in my opinion.

    What if the policies are the problem? Greed is not always monetary or individualized. Grabbing a slice of a very dirty pie for your home state or district is an example of greed. Lust for power is greed.
    This is just your ideology. I personally want my members of Congress trying to bring home as much pork as possible. That's not waste - that's jobs and infrastructure. And those legislators who "grab a slice of a very dirty pie" don't necessarily have a lust for power... many (I'd say the vast majority) are serving their constituents, which is what they're there to do.

    There is nothing endearing about that at all. It's patronage, and it's wrong.
    First of all, it's not just patronage. I was referring more to the old pols who would give a speech in a rural part of their state/district and pledge to build better roads for farmers. Or go to a union hall and remind them that they have supported labor issues and deserve their vote. As long as they actually keep their pledges (which, studies show, most do), this seems a whole lot more honest and direct than pretending it's all about "hope," "change," and "post-partisanship."

    But as for the patronage part, why is that so wrong? It inspires and promotes loyalty. Going back to the Truman thing, one of my favorite anecdotes is from when Tom Pendergast died. Truman was VP at the time, and Pendergast had been completely disgraced (and had served prison time). Truman was the only elected official in the nation to attend the funeral. When the press went after him for it, he said "he was always my friend, and I have always been his." That's loyalty. Politics is impossible without loyalists.

    If politics is about allocation of limited resources, then Americans SHOULD hate politicians. That mindset is frightening.
    How would you define politics? And by the way, those "resources" aren't always tangible or economic either. Political capital, for instance, is a limited resource and politicians have to choose where to spend it. Military power is a limited resource and has to be used wisely and prudently. And yeah, tax dollars are a limited resource and have to be allocated appropriately.

  8. #78
    Senior Member Ruthie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by onemoretime View Post
    In certain areas, like patronage and machine politics, yes. In others, like the fact that big business essentially owns our government to the point where they can essentially dictate policy and bills to legislators, not so much.
    Agreed. Personally, I'd like to see publicly financed campaigns. I don't have a problem with the deal-making and the patronage, but I have a serious problem with politicians serving their funders.

    It's like the old joke - everyone hates pork unless it's coming to their district. Let's face it, we elect our representatives and senators primarily for local reasons, not grand national political beliefs. We don't like guys like Murtha and Stevens, not because he built an airport or bridge in the middle of nowhere, but because that money wasn't being funneled to somewhere it would noticeably impact our own lives. And people wonder why these guys are consistently reelected.
    I drive through West Virginia from time to time and am absolutely amazed at how many buildings have Bob Byrd's name on them. The ideological stuff gets the headlines, but there's so much more to being an effective legislator and serving your constituents.

  9. #79
    Order Now! pure_mercury's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ruthie View Post
    Wow - you have a problem with absolutely everything I post... alrighty...



    a) 'cause it's my profession; b) 'cause it IS respectable.
    A profession is only as respectable as the people who work in it. You may be respectable, but haven't there been enough completely disrespectable politicians that a degree, even a large degree, of distrust is warranted?


    That's exactly what I'm saying, at least at its current levels. I don't see how a society is possible unless we have some shared things that we basically trust.
    1) We can have society without sacred cows.

    2) People can bond over shared distrust, as well.


    LBJ used to brag about a vanishing ballot box in his first Congressional race. Truman came out of the Pendergast machine in Missouri. Don't get me wrong, I actually have kind of a soft spot for machine politics, so the fact that politics is "cleaner" now isn't always a positive thing in my opinion.
    I've worked two big-city Democratic primaries in the past three years. Some of the stuff that goes on is reprehensible.


    This is just your ideology. I personally want my members of Congress trying to bring home as much pork as possible. That's not waste - that's jobs and infrastructure. And those legislators who "grab a slice of a very dirty pie" don't necessarily have a lust for power... many (I'd say the vast majority) are serving their constituents, which is what they're there to do.
    1) Calling something "ideology" doesn't make it right or wrong.

    2) Honestly, what percentage of pork would you consider waste? I guarantee that the average American would put the percentage much higher than you would.

    3) You take a pledge to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America, not a pledge to bring home the bacon for the home team.


    First of all, it's not just patronage. I was referring more to the old pols who would give a speech in a rural part of their state/district and pledge to build better roads for farmers. Or go to a union hall and remind them that they have supported labor issues and deserve their vote. As long as they actually keep their pledges (which, studies show, most do), this seems a whole lot more honest and direct than pretending it's all about "hope," "change," and "post-partisanship."
    Or, you know, you could have principled positions and implement policy changes based on them.


    But as for the patronage part, why is that so wrong? It inspires and promotes loyalty. Going back to the Truman thing, one of my favorite anecdotes is from when Tom Pendergast died. Truman was VP at the time, and Pendergast had been completely disgraced (and had served prison time). Truman was the only elected official in the nation to attend the funeral. When the press went after him for it, he said "he was always my friend, and I have always been his." That's loyalty. Politics is impossible without loyalists.
    Loyalty to a friend is fine. Loyalty in politics can be very dangerous. Why should politics be easy? It's SUPPOSED to be hard to get things done in government.


    How would you define politics? And by the way, those "resources" aren't always tangible or economic either. Political capital, for instance, is a limited resource and politicians have to choose where to spend it. Military power is a limited resource and has to be used wisely and prudently. And yeah, tax dollars are a limited resource and have to be allocated appropriately.
    When it comes to government? I don't even like the word "politics." "Governance" would be closer. In my world, there would be much less debate about the allocation of tax dollars, because there would be a strictly delimited amount of money and a small number of things for the government to do (pretty much the things that ONLY the government can do well). There would still be debate, but the barrel-rolling and backroom deals and machine politics would be almost gone. It would still exist at the local level, to be sure, but that is the easiest level of government to reform (i.e., to throw the bums out).
    Who wants to try a bottle of merc's "Extroversion Olive Oil?"

  10. #80
    Order Now! pure_mercury's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ruthie View Post
    Agreed. Personally, I'd like to see publicly financed campaigns.
    That idea is heinous to me. Forcing people to pay for politicians whom they despise to get elected is a terrible imposition on them on their beliefs, and outlawing private political contributions is a major violation of the right to free speech.


    I don't have a problem with the deal-making and the patronage, but I have a serious problem with politicians serving their funders.
    How can one hold these two ideas at the same time?
    Who wants to try a bottle of merc's "Extroversion Olive Oil?"

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