Monday, September 29, 2008

another red-blue-yellow electoral map -- without the yellow

"same life-- new location" has a general policy about politics: take it outside.

Let me do a little self-disclosure here. I love politics. Or, at least, I once loved politics. I began when I was 3 by taking presidential brochures to our neighbors. That was 1952. I have been involved in almost every election since then -- including running for the state legislature (and losing) and serving as a member of the electoral college in the 1980s.

So, what happened to all of this talk last week about "writing my blog for me" and "letting my blog reflect who I am"? If I really believe that, why is politics a forbidden topic?

Because we are in another one of those national election cycles where we all take our politics far too seriously. (The election of 1800 managed to set the low tone for these cycles.) Every witty remark turns into a blood bath. Let me give you an example. I was at dinner the other night with a group of mutual friends.

Liberal Friend says: "Did you see that San Francisco is going to honor President Bush by naming a public project after him?"
Conservative Friend: "San Francisco? What project?"
Liberal Friend: "A sewage treatment plant." [Laughs]
Conservative Friend: "It figures. Conservatives always have to clean up liberal messes." [Snorts]

If this had been a drawing room exchange in Victorian England between Oscar Wilde and James Whistler, the witty repartee would have continued. At this Portland dinner party, the next few exchanges involved words that began with A and F (not the clothing catalog), and variations on the theme of parentage. The dinner ended with most everyone leaving in high dudgeon.

And that was a group of friends. I can hardly see any profit in sucking my new blog acquaintances into that political morass. There are several friends who I cannot dine with until after the election.

Having said that, my wonk side cannot avoid the temptation to post this election's version of What-Can-Go-Wrong. Forget about dead voters in Chicago and dodgy ballots in Florida. This year, it is very possible that the Electoral College could end in a dead-even tie.

During the past two elections, everyone knew the electoral college vote would be very close. But there was very little possibility of a tie because of the individual state votes. This year is different. The polls have been up and down. But if each candidate carried the state in which he is currently leading, the vote would be 269 votes each. (See the map at the top of this post.) And then the vote would go to the House of Representatives where each state is allowed one vote. Currently, neither party has a majority of the states.

Will it happen? I doubt it. The variables are large enough that one candidate will most likely cobble together a majority. But it will be fun to watch.

I did my best to come up with a witty comment. And then I recalled the dinner. I suspect another day with the steak will make the black eye better. No more witty comments from me.


Anonymous said...

We are currently having an election in Canada, my neighbour has an NDP sign on the his lawn (socialist party), the guy across the street has a GREEN Party sign, several houses up is a LIBERAL sign. Haven't seen a CONSERVATIVE sign yet but there will be. There will be discourse but in the end no one really cares who you vote for. It would never end a dinner party nor prevent a dinner party. What happened in the US that politics became so divisive and so tied up with who you are. For a country that prides itself on democracy for itself and the rest of the world it is strange that civil conversation about democracy is gone. When did all this happen?

Michael Dickson said...

I know you are a Libertarian. Mexico is a Libertarian world. The big eat the small.

When (and if) you move south, you will see your political philosophy in action. Brace yourself.

Calypso said...

Steve - I avoid politics and religion on both my Blog and the VivaVeracruz Forum.

Now this isn't because I haven't prepared a defense for what I believe in or any such fringe area to that. I too take an avid interest in both these topics.

I simply see those discussions as an endless dark pit where the more innocent amongst us fall in.

There are a lot of good people out there that think a whole lot differently than me. I tend to just listen and catalog some of those positions to some of those people - leaving it at that.

I have on occasion intervened when things started to get a bit ugly on the Forum being the moderator and trying to keep it civil.

I suppose imposing my general policy as a Forum policy (how dictatorial of me ;-)

Those aforementioned mediums are designed mostly to discuss living in Mexico issues, but they do digress.

All that written, I feel my Blog is a personal diary of sorts with a lot of people looking over my shoulder - so it would be ludicrous to say it is just a diary.

I try very hard to not pander to my readers; on the other hand keeping the peace is just good sense I think.

There is probably more to gain from being subtle on controversial subjects - not that I would suggest using the 'come to dinner and afterward I will sell some Amway products' approach.

But perhaps leading by example rather than shouting down the opposition is a better way to go ;-)

Peace - Juan

Steve Cotton said...

Michael -- I am not a Libertarian, but I am a libertarian. I have been a lifetime registered member of one of the major American parties. I am fully aware that if my political philosophy were to be fully implemented, I would not be happy -- something Eddie Willers and I have commented on in the past. "Nietzschean nightmare" was the term I used.

Richard -- The split that we see today in politics goes back to the early 1600s when Massachusetts and Virginia were settled by colonists with almost opposite views on how a happy life should be conducted. The incivility is not new. We actually had a civil war over that same division. At least now we are simply tossing dinner rolls.

John -- I agree with your call for subtlety on certain topics. Faith is one issue that is better lived than hammered to death by repeated discourses. And politics. I was hoping I had met that standard. Apparently not.

Islagringo said...

Some good friends of mine are dyed in the wool Republicans. Despite that, they are nice people! This election we have agreed to not discuss politics. We would rather keep our friendship intact!

Steve Cotton said...

Wayne -- Calling a political discussion truce is often the best option. In my immediate family, there are Obama, McCain, and Nader supporters. Dinner could easily turn into World War III without a few ground rules.

Babs said...

Well, I want to chime in! I don't know why it has come to this divisiveness. I have "dear" friends of the other party and I respect their right to that, as long as they respect my right. Isn't that the way it is supposed to be? It feels to me like in the last eight years people have acquired internal rage concerning politics that serves no purpose other then to alienate and divide everyone. Sad.........

glorv1 said...

I stand quiet....(because I don't know what to say.)

Steve Cotton said...

Babs -- The genesis arises out of the Bush-Clinton wars where people of each party have personified everything they hate about certain aspects of American society in the bodies of either the Clintons or the Bushes. But it is not just politics. Try to have a civil conversation about religion or even the latest book. My experience is that criticism as an art form has disappeared. These days, everybody has to have a side. Barak Obama may be correct. The Baby Boomer wars are still with us -- and Bill Clinton and George Bush were the very symbols of that divided generation. Maybe it will take a full generation of wandering in the wilderness for American society to be purged of our diviseness.

Gloria -- Silence is often a wise tactic -- and strategy.

Anonymous said...


Hmmm, do you really understand the difference between a "strategy" and a "tactic"?

Sorry, given the political theme I just couldn't resist!

So, have you eaten all of your concoction yet?


Steve Cotton said...

Alee' -- In my senior years, I have come to the conclusion that the goal and the method of reaching the goal are indiscernable. Perhaps I have been reading too much Marcus Aurelius.

I have a bit of my concoction left. It will accompany me to work tomorrow as my lunch.

Cory said...

Politics and religion.

It is certainly enjoyable to converse with people whom you agree.

It makes many of us nervous to enter into a discussion with those we believe we might disagree. Then when we do attempt to debate, those of us not good at debate turn polemic and say things out of emotion instead of intellect.

It is interesting both politics and religion are the very topics of discussion whenever you and I talk.

Steve Cotton said...

Cory -- But even when we disagree, we find a common basis up[on which to disagree. We agree on the principles, but not always the application. As a result, the discussion is always civil.

Charles said...


I love talking about politics and religion but it is hard to have a discussion without offending someone because these topics are a reflection of our deepest held beliefs. It's human nature to not like to be told that you are wrong. If both parties don't take it too seriously though, a debate can be great fun.

Steve Cotton said...

Charles -- I agree. The conflict does not come from the issues; it comes from our respect for one another.