Thursday, December 08, 2005

Scot's Pedantic Lecture Series #1: Political Sex and Electronica

In my last post I mentioned Diebold and it's becoming more and more interesting to me that an incredible amount of political outrage over the last two Presidential Administrations has centered on vote fraud and blowjobs. I find it interesting because there seems to be this sentiment implicit in all the brouhaha that these topics are new to the U.S. Presidency and that they represent to various groups (vote fraud = conspiratorially inclined Lefties; blowjobs = evangelically inspired Rightists) new, unprecendented lows in the history of our country and its leadership.

Are you kidding me? Without vote fraud and sex, a study of U.S. History would pretty much boil down to Gerald Ford and who wants that? More to the point, a failure to understand the importance of both fraud and sex in our Presidential history makes people feel like they are living in some Sodom and Gomorrah end times with people turning into pillars of salt and Fox showing adult-oriented cartoons masquerading as kids shows. Okay, maybe part of that is happening, but the fact remains that politics in this country has always been closer to Sodom than Branson. Yet lots of folks on both loony sides of the political spectrum have spent the last ten plus years sighting the suppposed coming of the Apocalypse.

Get off your high-horse tin-foil hat people. What you call conspiracy is just human nature, and getting unreasonable about the fact that:

1. power-hungry egocentric type people want to have sex
2. power-hungry egocentric type people want to win elections

is about as shocking as that Weekly World News headline saying "Aliens Claim Jacko Is Their Son". It also seems to me that those of us closer to the loony Left might get a bit more accomplished if we stopped looking for Diebold conspiracies and instead just took it as a given that any voting system can and has been manipulated at some level, including good 'ol paper ballots which are seen as sacred to tin-foil Diebold haters. It would also help if instead of neo-Luddite hue and cry about "voting machines" everybody worked harder on GOTV and other aspects of the world's scuzziest job, winning elections.

I really do admire and respect the energy of those who want to make sure every vote counts and is counted right. I just have a problem with knee-jerk reactions that because a "system" is hackable it means that Republicans are hacking it, have hacked it and that 2004-era Republicans are the only lowlife scum in history who would ever consider such a thing. Get over yourself....I kinda get the impression that the same zealots who declaim about the soulless Repubs would be the very same folks who would cheat just as much if given the chance. Not that there would be anything historically remarkable about that.

Speaking of the historical sense, the biggest electoral travesty to happen in recent times was the Supreme Court getting involved in Bush v. Gore. That WAS Sodom & Gomorrah. It's easy to see that in 50 years observers will look back at that in the same disbelieving way we look at Plessy v. Ferguson or the Dred Scott decision today. As for the whole Florida vote count process itself, that will just seamlessly fold in with Kennedy winning Illinois in '60 and we'll laugh about it the same way we do about Mayor Daley back in the day.

I feel a need to apologize for getting all serious and pedantic, but we teachers can get like that sometimes. Lots of times. Speaking of teaching and such...I'll close by just making the suggestion that anyone who does think we live in some Political Endtimes consult any decent book on U.S. History. For example, I just finished Ron Chernow's biography of Alexander Hamilton, and if you think our modern day electioneering of Swift Boating and Diebold is unprecendentally bad, check out the Election of 1796, or 1800 or even the supposedly sacred Constitutional Convention and Ratification process. Messy, messy stuff indeed, but also essentially uplifting in these trying times with the realization that they've all been trying times. Even the good 'ol days.

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