September 15, 2010

To continue on the subject "politics should not be that emotional or that big a part of our lives," I have a confession to make.

I didn't vote in the Wisconsin primary. And I took refuge in the back of my house many times when candidates — actual candidates, not their acolytes — rang my doorbell in the hope of getting to talk to me personally. They left handwritten "sorry I missed you" notes.

Like many Americans, I have an aversion to politics. I may write about politics every day, but it's from a distance... an intentional, heartfelt distance.

68 comments:

edutcher said...

And you, a law professor.

(Well, somebody was going to say it)

WV "vinked" What the Russian lady said when asked what he did that made her swoon.

Big Mike said...

As the scope and reach of government grows, as the downstream impacts of trillion-dollar deficits make themselves felt on your standard of living, politics has become a big and intrusive part of your life, whether you wish it or not.

Scott M said...

I didn't vote in the Wisconsin primary.

I can completely understand not engaging sycophants on/near your domicile, but not voting at all?

For shame, Ann. Seriously.

YoungHegelian said...

I hide from the candidates, too, but for completely different reasons. I hide because when I ask them questions like "when you say you're a 'Progressive Democrat' on your flyer, that's a synonym for 'Leftist', isn't it?" they get really snippy with me.

I live in a very "Progressive" district in MD, and that there are even moderate conservatives like myself in the district seems to strike these candidates as akin to running into a unicorn with their car.

MadisonMan said...

I did vote in the Republican Primary. Surprisingly, no one I voted for -- that I recall -- won. Which is to say, the Republican Senatorial candidate I was most likely to vote for in the General Election didn't win the primary, nor did the Republican Gubernatorial Candidate I voted for.

CJinPA said...

I've run for local office and I know your type.

I see your car in the driveway. (Sometimes your front door is actually opened. And I can hear the TV.)

You're just not comfortable being that "close" to politics. No biggie. As long that trait represents a minority of would-be voters.

AJ Lynch said...

I wish they'd cancel the weekly radio sermon by the president. I wish we would stop looking to Washington to solve everything. I wish we'd go back to fixing our own problems locally. Pawlenty was right when he said the states have become addicted to the fed money as if it is free.

Robert Cook said...

"As the scope and reach of government grows...politics has become a big and intrusive part of your life, whether you wish it or not."

In a society founded on the basis of representative self-government, politics has always been a part of our lives, as it should be.

Citizens who disengage from the political process are voting their tacit approval for whatever the government does in our name.

AllenS said...

As I've said before, I didn't vote in the last presidential election. I'd never vote for a Democrat, and I've had it with Republicans. It will take a new party, with new ideas to get to me take the time and vote again.

Bushman of the Kohlrabi said...

I voted in a primary for the first time ever. There were just too many stories of Democrats trying to undermine the Republican Gubernatorial race. It looks like there were quite a few others who felt the same way. I can't wait until November!

Scott M said...

Citizens who disengage from the political process are voting their tacit approval for whatever the government does in our name.

HOWARD JOHNSON IS RIGHT!

Robert Cook said...

"I wish we would stop looking to Washington to solve everything."

See my previous post: we're a representative, self-governing citizenry. How else to solve our problems than through our political process? (I know you're referring to the Federal government, which brings me to your next sentence.)

"I wish we'd go back to fixing our own problems locally."

It seems this should be a locally addressed wish: go to your city or country or state government, with as many like-minded citizens as you can muster, and request or demand less reliance on the federal government and on federal dollars. You'll probably see an increase in your local and state taxes--assuming you can effect this return to mostly local politics as the means to address local issues.

Michael Haz said...

Your non-vote for Russ Feingold is duly noted and appreciated.

Feel free to stay away from the polls November 14th.

MadisonMan said...

Your non-vote for Russ Feingold is duly noted and appreciated.

He was running unopposed in the primary.

Big Mike said...

Oh, good golly! Robert Cook (10:44) and I are in agreement about something.

I need a drink.

Scott M said...

You'll probably see an increase in your local and state taxes--assuming you can effect this return to mostly local politics as the means to address local issues.

Everything in life is a trade-off. I would support higher local taxes for less federal involvement. That, hopefully, means a more effective use of the funds collected.

shoutingthomas said...

Citizens who disengage from the political process are voting their tacit approval for whatever the government does in our name.

No, we're not.

We're acknowledging that it really doesn't make fucking much difference.

This is where you always go wrong, Cookie. The defects of the political system are, in fact, the normal defects of humans.

Humans are a lot of things. One of the things they are is crappy, self-interesting and corruptible. No matter who is elected, you can count on them to be crappy, self-interesting and corruptible.

As I've gotten older, I've learned to trust conservatives more because they acknowledge that people (including themselves) are crappy, self-interesting and corruptible. This is a good thing. Cynicism is a powerful block to people who want the government to do something about whatever.

On the other hand, your moral blindspot is your failure to understand that all people are crappy, self-interesting and corruptible. So, you think that somebody or something out there offers salvation.

That's what makes you a monster.

I don't want the government to solve problems. I want it to be as small as possible and to do as little as possible. Clean the streets, man the fire department and stay out of my business.

Bushman of the Kohlrabi said...

Rusty is looking pretty unhinged these days. So mush for the happy-go-lucky mavricky Russ we used to know.

AJ Lynch said...

Robert:

No shit.

shoutingthomas said...

That should read "crappy, self-interested and corruptible."

Scott M said...

I don't want the government to solve problems. I want it to be as small as possible and to do as little as possible. Clean the streets, man the fire department and stay out of my business.

In order to get to that, you have to, um, elect (ie vote for) the people that most closely share your view.

Greg said...

Are you averse to politics, or politicians? Not exactly the same thing.

Big Mike said...

@Michael Haz, MadMan said he voted in the Republican primary.

He doesn't seem to be committing himself to vote for Johnson in November, but we can always hope.

MadisonMan said...

I would have been more likely to vote for Westlake, but he doesn't have the $$ the Johnson does. Why doesn't Johnson just roll out Herb Kohl's old Nobody's Senator but Yours slogan?!

The Governor choices we have leave me pretty lukewarm. Two Milwaukee Politicians. Whee. Like I said last night, it's like choosing between two Senators for President.

ricpic said...

...I have an aversion to politics...

But I keep on pulling the Democrat lever, which insures an ever growing state and an ever more intrusive invasion of politics into my life.

Jay Fellows said...

I live in a very population dense area in Ohio. As a result door to door types love to cover our neighborhood. Like you I used to hide, but now the evil side of my personality has taken over and I like to play mind games with them.

Politician: "Can I count on your vote?"

Me: "I can't vote."

Politician: "Oh, are you registered in another state?"

Me: "Nah. Had two felonies. Man two and aggravated assault. Had to pull a full nickel (5 years). Lucasville no less."

Politician: Silence

All this while I do my best Charles Manson stare. Works every time.

roesch-voltaire said...

This seems disingenuous to me as your blog frequently focuses on politics and you do make heartfelt engagements such as your blog on Christine O'Donnell. Obviously politics are a big part of your life and this blog--not that there is anything wrong with that.

Synova said...

Human beings are hard-wired to feel like they ought to reciprocate. Someone did research on it and showed a chemical response in the brain involved with exchanging value for value.

So, when someone comes and shakes our hand and acts friendly and nice we want to act friendly and nice back again, most of us. And it becomes uncomfortable to say no.

Walking past the person getting signatures for a good cause, or a troop of girlscouts selling cookies, or an author signing her books... it's uncomfortable.

That's why "pressing the flesh" works. That's why candidates do it.

Some people are better at saying no. Some people learn to be better and more comfortable saying no.

Michael Haz said...

He was running unopposed in the primary.

Doesn't mean that she couldn't have marked the ballot and voted.

Anne B. said...

Synova says:

``Walking past the person getting signatures for a good cause, or a troop of girlscouts selling cookies, or an author signing her books... it's uncomfortable.''

Maybe it's because I grew up in New York, but I have no trouble with that. I keep the eyes straight ahead and fail to see anyone who looks like he/she might be ready to pounce.

Anyway, if a politician asks for your vote, you can always tell him yes. You're not on oath, and nobody's going to follow you into the booth and see which name you actually select.

MadisonMan said...

I will always sign nominating papers, no matter who is asking, or what the cause.

I've never had someone come up on the street and ask me to vote for them. Even a visit to my house is extremely rare, and it's usually a local election, so I'll listen, then wish them luck and they're on their way. If it's local, odds are that you either know the person, or you share mutual friends.

jamboree said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jamboree said...

If I were younger and knew what I know now, I think I'd be for revolution. I find my own theoretical radicalization hilarious. This wasn't the case when I actually was 19 or 20.

AllenS said...

One thing good about living in the country, is that you never get politicians or halloween trick or treaters coming to your door.

Kirby Olson said...

People are disgusted by door to door solicitation whether it's for votes or Boy Scout Cookies, or whatever, but you should still manage to vote.

I didn't vote, but you should have.

I will vote in November. I couldn't decide whether to go for Paladino or Lazio. They both had o's at the end of their names, and I usually try to find someone whose name ends in a consonant.

traditionalguy said...

You are forgiven. Go and hide out no more. We do need your objective point of view in the political posts. Politics is war and not love.

c3 said...

I didn't vote in the Wisconsin primary.

Disappointing, to say the least.

Then IMHO you have little to complain about.

Peter V. Bella said...

I have a no trespassing sign right at the sidewalk. When someone knocks or rings the bell and starts their little talk, I kindly ask them if they are able to read. I usually get the dear in the headlights look. I repeat it, asking if they at least completed the first grade. (One moron actually told Me he had a Master's Degree- as if that means something.)

Then I escort them down the stairs to the sidewalk. I point to the sign. I ask- "What part of no trespassing don't you understand?"

c3 said...

Like Chauncey Gardner, the Professor

Likes to watch

(But I do hope that confession is good for the soul)

Rocco said...

Kirby Olson posted:
"... They both had o's at the end of their names, and I usually try to find someone whose name ends in a consonant."

Dang it, man, I was really hoping to get your vote!

word verification: Face it, the "o"'s are taking over.

The Crack Emcee said...

"I have an aversion to politics..."

Just like you have an aversion to NewAge - because nursing aversions is the best way to achieve clarity - your previous votes prove that.

It's all about feelings - except for how we've all been feeling about the results of your last vote. They can be ignored. Like Oprah's influence on it all.

All very helpful.

Calypso Facto said...

Were you Moby-ing in the Republican Primary, MadMan?

Robert Cook said...

"We're acknowledging that it really doesn't make fucking much difference."

At present, voting doesn't make much difference, as both parties are in thrall to the oligarchs, and neither party considers we, the people, to be their true constituency. Moreover, too few people are well-informed, rational actors, and we are thus prey to the fear-mongers and liars who seek to influence our decisions in favor of furtherance of their goals, not ours. Plus, too few people vote.

Political engagment involves things other than just voting: organizing, joining together with like-minded others to apply pressure on those in office to address our concerns, mounting opposition parties and candidates, etc. Isn't that what the Tea Partiers assume they're doing? (Of course, that they're funded in secret by billionaires means that whomever they manage to elect will continue politics as usual, i.e., the interests of big business will be served.)

"The defects of the political system are, in fact, the normal defects of humans."

Of course. How could it be otherwise?

"Humans are a lot of things. One of the things they are is crappy, self-interesting and corruptible. No matter who is elected, you can count on them to be crappy, self-interesting and corruptible."

Of course. How could it be otherwise?

This is why there is a separation of powers, so that each co-equal branch of government, local or federal, jealous of its power, will act to thwart subversion of its rightful power by the other branches, to force compromise, thereby arresting the worst abuses of unilateral power. This system works imperfectly, but it works...sometimes...as long as those serving in government do not place loyalty to party (or to party leader) over their own self-interest, (i.e., preservation of their own power).

Also required is the scrutiny and oversight of an informed electorate.

"Cynicism is a powerful block to people who want the government to do something about whatever."

No, cynicism is the abandonment of the idea that we, the people can influence events, the surrender to the idea that the system is irrevocably broken, (or fixed, as it were), and that nothing can ever change, so..."why bother?", as R. Crumb's despairing character put it.

"...you think that somebody or something out there offers salvation."

If "salvation" (however defined) is to be had--or, more realistically--solutions to problems--it must come from we, the people, acting together through self-governance.

"I don't want the government to solve problems. I want it to...stay out of my business."

Move to Ted Kaczynski's abandoned shack. As long as you live in a society of people, government is necessary to peacefully resolve the inevitable disputes. After all, as someone once said, "people are crappy, self-interesting (sic) and corruptible." Without an agreed upon body (i.e., government) to resolve disputes and to erect a system of law, only violence and predation and chaos will rule.

Greg Hlatky said...

They both had o's at the end of their names, and I usually try to find someone whose name ends in a consonant.

The term for voting for Italian-named candidates is "voting the vowel."

shoutingthomas said...

Cookie, you're blowing you're hot air at the wrong person.

I've lived in San Francisco, Chicago, New York City and Woodstock. I know the hipster, commie mantra backwards and forwards. And, I grew up in conservative small-town Midwest.

So, thanks for the civics lesson, but as usual, you're mostly full of shit.

Moreover, too few people are well-informed, rational actors, and we are thus prey to the fear-mongers and liars who seek to influence our decisions in favor of furtherance of their goals, not ours.

This is the hipster BS writ large. I'm no longer a hipster, and I spend a lot of time in suburbia. From the farmer to the cop to the small town schoolmarm, Americans can tell you precisely their political self-interest. You just don't approve of their political self-interest. Those rubes know what your ideas are and they hate them.

They're smarter than you.

Money follows success. The Tea Party is having success and it's attracting money. Those rubes have money, and they're putting their money where their mouths are, just like everybody else. As I said, they just happen to hate your hipster/commie ideas. They aren't misinformed or ignorant. They know what you stand for and they hate it.

No, the American electorate would not embrace your ideas if it was "well informed."

The American political process is the best there is, but, no, active involvement isn't necessarily going to change anything. I've been there and done that.

Cynicism about human nature and about politicians is our best defense.

My cynicism extends especially to self-important, sanctimonious SOBs like you who think that the "masses" are stupid and that they need you for enlightenment.

You're a very articulate idiot.

You are dumb that you think I don't know where your ideas come from. I've practically got a doctorate in that BS you keep dishing out.

MadisonMan said...

Were you Moby-ing in the Republican Primary, MadMan?

I was voting for the better candidate.

A.W. said...

ann, you should vote, period. whether you get worked up about politics or not.

People have literally died to give you that right. you owe it to them.

you don't have to be politics obsessed, just cast your ballot.

david7134 said...

I don't view this as politics. We have the inital process of a revolution. If everything progresses in a manner that assures the reduction in the size of DC, then we will have a peaceful change. If not, then people are so worked up that I feel it may turn violent.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

For shame Ann. How can you not vote when the vote for women especially was bought at a very dear price.

See this Courage in Women is often mistaken for insanity

What would these brave women think about you?

Robert Cook said...

Is it me, or are there problems with Blogger today? I posted (or tried to post) a long reply to Laughing Boy, I mean, shoutingthomas, and I don't see it here. However, he shouts back at me and has copied and pasted part of the reply, so it must have appeared, even if only briefly.

What's up?

Dust Bunny Queen said...

also

http://hubpages.com/hub/What-Women-Went-Through-To-Get-the-Vote-in-the-United-States

Shame on you and anyone else who doesn't use this precious right.

Sometimes we have no one we WANT to vote for. Sometimes we are only voting against. But if we don't vote and if we don't ensure that all votes are valid (not dead people, children, pets and cartoon characters) we deserve the coming dictatorship that we will have foisted upon ourselves.

VOTE!

Scott M said...

I had one rather erudite comment that got sucked into the Bermuda Blogger earlier today without anything obvious happening other than it never showed up on the blog.

One thing of note: I've been getting a lot of 503 errors lately when trying to either get into a thread from the main page or posting a comment. Sometimes, even with the error, the comment still makes it. More often, it doesn't.

I think it would be informative to have a single thread about posting in threads. An open thread where techniques, usages, HTML, tags, etc could be openly discussed in detail before Nazis are mentioned.

Maguro said...

It's those rapacious corporate oligarchs and Obama's reich-wing police state, Cookie. They're tracking your every move.

Better lock the door and put your tin-foil hat back on.

AllenS said...

Never hit the PUBLISH YOUR COMMENT button before you make a copy of your comment.

Robert Cook said...

"Never hit the PUBLISH YOUR COMMENT button before you make a copy of your comment."

I did make a copy of my comment, and tried to post it repeatedly. I hope it didn't actually post repeatedly and I just can't see it because of a problem with my browser.

As I say, it must have shown up, even if it's gone now, because yellingtommy quoted part of it back to me.

Calypso Facto said...

MM said: "I was voting for the better candidate."

I'll take you at your usual earnestness instead of the obvious alternative that you perhaps voted for the "better" candidate for your candidate to run against. It does bring up the usual criticisms of "open primary" voting.

Statewide, Neumann actually did better than I expected, winning more (but less populous) counties than Walker.

Were you equally honest about Westlake? I definitely preferred him to Johnson, but also knew he had virtually no recognition at large....

AllenS said...

Mr. Cook,

It's called blogger hell. Sometimes, I have to leave this blog, and post under my sock puppet name to get the post to go.

Blogger sucks.

Skipper50 said...

Perhaps all college faculty could be prohibited from voting.

MadisonMan said...

I think Neumann was the far better candidate. Walker has a gimmick, but that's about it. A Brown Bag won't get you very far. I like that Neumann put together an entire plan. I didn't read it, but it's out there to look through. That's the kind of information I want when I'm making a decision.

With Walker, all I know is that he's anti-train. Well, la-dee-frickin'-da. And the amorphous "I hate government waste and all those Liberals in Madison". Again, that's slim pickings to choose on. And I can't forget that he wanted to save money by not filling vacant state positions. He just strikes me as vacant. And I don't think Barrett even wants to be Governor, he just entered the race as a favor. Rather like Castle, IMO, and there's not much to vote for in Barrett's case either. Sure, he can stop a crime in progress, but that's not a reason to vote for him.

Two Milwaukee Politicians. Great.

I also voted for Westlake.

MadisonMan said...

Voting for Westlake was kinda like voting against Scott Klug.

Throw away your vote!

Jana said...

I vote in my primaries just to cut into the insane margin that Jim McDermott wins.

My neighbors are deeply wrongheaded. This guy does nothing for the district, he just rots there in the House, where he's been since before I was born.

marklewin said...

Like many Americans, I have an aversion to politics. I may write about politics every day, but it's from a distance... an intentional, heartfelt distance.

How do you reconcile the two positions?

Ann Althouse said...

@Robert Cook Blogger flagged your comment(s) as spam and put them in a place where I moderate. So... you don't have to keep trying to publish when that happens. You just have to wait for me to approve it, which I might not do until a few hours later. It's very helpful in keeping out spam. I could turn off this Blogger feature if I wanted to, but I like it.

Mr. Forward said...

Telephone Solicitor "We'd like to ask for your help in electing ****
Can we put you down for $75?"

Me: "Does the candidate believe the government is too big?"

TS: "Certainly."

Me: "Does the candidate believe the government should not interfere in people's private business?"

TS: "Yes, of course."

Me: "Where does the candidate stand on medical marijuana?"

TS:" I don't know."

Me:" Call me back when you find out."

So far, nobody has called back.

Paul Zrimsek said...

Since the real Robert Cook never has anything good to say about the actual results of the democratic process, Blogger probably assumed that all that panglossian civics-class praise of the abstract process itself was the work of an impostor.

Robert Cook said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Robert Cook said...

"Since the real Robert Cook never has anything good to say about the actual results of the democratic process...."

At best, the actual results of our political system will always be imperfect, mishapen, and unsatisfying...but it's the system we have, and it can work, rather than not, if the elements necessary for it to function are in place, primary among them: an informed, involved electorate to whom our representatives are answerable. If the system fails, should we dismantle it, or should we try to repair it?

Shoutingthomas urges cynicism as the great defense against...what? I'm not sure. Against bothering to repair what has gone wrong?

I do disdain our present dysfunctional system--a bankrupt empire near collapse, strained beyond its limits; the rule of law ignored by the lawmakers; the chief executive claiming for himself unilateral authority to be found nowhere in the Constitution; the open embrace of the crime of torture as legitimate American practice; the usurpation by the oligarchs of the people as the legitimate constituents whom our representatives must serve--of course I understand the impulse to cynicism. However, I believe we must not be cynical, but skeptical, a different thing altogether.

As I said in my comment that didn't post, cynicism is the surrender to the idea that nothing can change, so why bother? However, things can change and have changed: slavery was abolished; universal suffrage was gained; grotesque, overt and often violent discrimination by the majority against the minority has been outlawed; and so on.

We have historical evidence that the people, acting in concert, can effect dramatic social and political change. This gives us every reason to reject cynicism, but to remain hopeful and engaged. However, the essential leavening ingredient against a "civics class" naivete about our system must be, not cynicism, but informed skepticism and a rejection of sentimentality about any intrinsic "nobility" or "superiority" of America over any other present or historical society, a recognition that we are not a "shining city on a hill" and never have been. We must acknowledge frankly how unjust and brutal our society too often is. If we can't acknowledge that, we can't ever know where and how to apply our efforts at repair.

shoutingthomas said...

Jesus, are you full of bullshit, Robert Cook.

We must acknowledge frankly how unjust and brutal our society too often is. If we can't acknowledge that, we can't ever know where and how to apply our efforts at repair.

No, our society isn't often unjust and brutal. There are no civil rights issues remaining to be prosecuted. Enough is enough. Just because you want to continue to prattle on about civil rights to please your vanity... well fuck you.

No, we don't engage in torture. Jesus, you're an idiot. We ought to be torturing the jihadis. I'll be glad to do the torturing.

You're lost in the commie/hipster past, Cookie. The issues so dear to your heart are stale, finished and need to be shelved.

You have a romantic attachment to the 60s. That's all over. Wake up, asshole.

The cynicism of the conservative, as I made clear, is a cynicism about the nature of people. People are crappy, self-interested and wide open to corruption... all people.

You are totally corrupt. You've seen so many movies and books about the heroic struggles of the 60s that you want to relive it for the sake of your own ego and vanity. Shove it.