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Archive for the 'All Politics Issue' Category

October 2012 in Black Lamb

Volume 10, Number 10 — October 2012

October 1st, 2012

The All-Politics Issue

In October's All-Politics issue of Black Lamb, editor Terry Ross proposes a return to the principle of fairness in society. In www.stopthefreeride.gov, John M. Daniel offers a taxation plan that would solve everything. Dan Peterson remembers the Chilean coup of 1973 in The revolution was televised.

In Potty mouth, Rod Ferrandino details nasty presidential campaigns of history. Toby Tompkins isolates the biggest political player of all in King Mammon. In Politics is the art of the possible, Ed Goldberg once again deplores right wingers. Elizabeth Fournier discusses environmentally clean burial in Politics of death? Green. Mark McLaughlin reviews two books on Alexander the Great in Boy, man, monster. In Writer/statesman Owen Alexander salutes Gore Vidal as the nearest thing we have to this species in America. A Politics Quiz offers ten famous quotes and asks you to name the speakers.

Our Honorary Black Lambs column welcomes James Boswell and Eugene O'Neill into our pantheon of literary greats. Bridge writer Trixie Barkis celebrates the best player among presidents, Dwight Eisenhower. Our monthly lamb recipe is a Chinese dish called Emperor's Lamb. Millicent Marshall answers readers' questions. And Professor Avram Khan presents another difficult word puzzle.

Posted by: The Editors
Category: All Politics Issue, Month summaries | Link to this Entry

The All-Politics Issue

Including a crucial principle to consider

October 1st, 2012

BY TERRY ROSS

With November’s election staring us in the face, it’s extremely tempting to throw up your hands, admit that nothing much is likely to change no matter who is elected, and firmly exercise your right not to vote.

Besides, as Kevin Baker pointed out in the October issue of Harper’s Magazine, “Why vote? When your vote counts for nothing”:

For more than a generation, this has been the central truth of American politics: How you cast your vote has almost no relation to what any candidate actually intends to do. This is not simply a liberal complaint. Conservative voters (sort of) elected George W. Bush president in 2000 because he promised fiscal prudence, limited government, and an end to “nation building” in foreign lands. What they got was a president who, almost from day one, busied himself running up record budget deficits, passed an enormous new prescription-drug entitlement, and attempted to build a model laissez-faire democracy in Iraq.

Before Bush, Bill Clinton ran on a pledge to “put people first,” promising tax cuts for the middle class and welfare reform that would supplement benefits with job-training programs. Mr. Clinton had barely taken the oath of office before the tax cuts were deep-sixed in favor of reassuring the bond markets and a balanced budget became one of the administration’s important goals. By the end of Clinton’s presidency, Glass–Steagall and many of the other safeguards that had served to protect us from financial chicanery since the Great Depression had been removed, and welfare had been largely turned over to the states to do with as they saw fit — a major part of the safety net thereby whisked away.

As with all the most pernicious trends in recent American politics, the move to uncouple campaigns from any true intentions came into its own during the Reagan years. After decades of echoing the catchphrase of his economic adviser Milton Friedman that “there is no free lunch” and advocating a smaller government, President Reagan tripled the national debt — once again, exactly the opposite of what nearly all his voters were counting on him to do.
Since at least 1980, Americans have been unable to prevail on their leaders to do much of anything they promised. For all the masses of volunteers who worked to get out the vote for their candidates, for all those who gave what money they could to the campaigns and came out to hear stump speeches — in numbers, during the last presidential election, that had not been seen for more than a generation — the payoff was nothing.

So voting’s a mug’s game, at least voting for president. And if voting’s pointless, then so is arguing about political issues. Still, in the interest of self-expression if nothing else, I’d like to nominate an ideal to strive for, however hopelessly: fairness.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by: The Editors
Category: All Politics Issue, Ross | Link to this Entry

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