Thursday, September 5, 2019

On Three

The Vermont senator told a TV debate that women "in poor countries" should have access to birth control.

Conservatives said the remark meant the self-described democratic socialist's climate change policy was for fewer "brown babies".
Because of course they did. It's the nature of politics in the United States. Republican politicians have to take any opportunity that they may be afforded to trash a Democrat. Taking words out of context to create an attack vector simply provides for a bonus.

And it is, basically, all pointless. The Democratic primaries are far enough away that no-one will remember what Senator Sanders said by the time they roll around, and the Republicans will have moved on to other things. But more importantly, anyone who was going to take Senator Cruz, Representative Scalise, Liz Wheeler or Ben Shapiro seriously enough to be "outraged" at Senator Sanders' comment has pretty much zero chance of being a Democratic voter in the first place. And while it's possible that Republican voters may attempt to swing the Democratic primaries towards a candidate that they may feel would be weak against President Trump (more than) a year from now, it's unlikely that anyone who managed to make the President look good in the eyes of Democrats and independent voters would have any chance of winning in any event.

I suppose that the common description of something like this would be "style over substance," but that presumes that there's even any style to any of this. Instead, it's simply reflexive partisanship, divorced perhaps even from ideology. Presumably, politicians behave this way because they honestly feel that their policy ideas would be genuinely good for the country, and since they need to be in office to enact those policies, they are often willing to go out on a limb to preserve their (and their party's) electoral chances. That reasoning, however, feels more and more like a stretch every passing day.

And this, perhaps, is the worst thing about the current state of American politics. The constant drive to increase cynicism and the disengagement that goes with it; the attempt to narrow down the subset of the public who actually vote to the smallest possible number of people, and then hope that of the people who are left, the people who would come out to vote come Godzilla or high water, the largest slice votes for the person who puts the most effort into badmouthing their opposition.

I, like many supposedly non-partisan voters, have a decidedly partisan bent to my actual voting behavior. In my case, it's because every time I hear of the Republicans doing something or other, it strikes me as something stupidly partisan, to the point of blind thoughtlessness. Not that there aren't any Republican officeholders that I vote for, but that's such a small group that they seem non-existent most of the time.

It's possible that this is a screening mechanism, like the laughably bad scams that pervade the Internet these days. Since attracting people bright enough to eventually suspect that something's amiss is a waste of time in the end, the pitch is designed to drive away everyone who won't swallow it whole from the get-go. I don't know. I suspect I'm better off that way.

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