Breaking my usual habit of political radio silence:

Your Issue Profile: 44% Obama, 56% McCain

Truth be told, you're not really satisfied with either of the candidates.

You could vote for either of them. You are the typical coveted swing voter.

You may want to narrow yourself down to a particular set of issues in order to pick your president.

Or start looking at third party candidates. One of them might suit you better.

Truthfully, seldom have I been so glad to be Canadian. Though we have an election coming up, too. *tears hair* There's no escape!
One thing you ought to know about me, if you know me at all, is that the surest way to get my hackles up, and make me want to root for the very opposite side you're endorsing, is to attack and belittle your opponent(s).

For example, when I was a child, I knew full well that Coke was bigger than Pepsi and that McDonalds was bigger than Burger King, and that neither one really needed my loyalty or support. However, the Pepsi and Burger King commercials at the time were very negative and competitive in tone, always trying to prove that Coke and McDonalds were inferior and that people only used them because they were uninformed about the glorious alternatives. As a result, I developed a deep-seated resentment of both Pepsi and Burger King, to the extent that I only use either product when no other option is available. It doesn't matter that they're really #2 and that the products they were attacking are still #1 -- the mere act of attacking their competition made me feel as though their competition were the underdogs, the oppressed, and therefore worth sticking up for. And this feeling is still with me thirty years later.

The same applies, in an even more significant way, to political endorsements. Any argument based on slagging off the Other Guy, even if that Other Guy is the current top dog in the system, is going to have the opposite effect of the one you want -- it's going to make me defensive on his behalf. For one thing, I'm cynical about the integrity or reliability of politicians to begin with, so telling me that Politician A is a lying weasel is not going to surprise me. For another, I am also cynical about the integrity and reliability of the media, so any Shocking!News!Stories! you'd like to present as evidence of Politician A's calumny will be taken with a generous helping of salt.

In other words, my first reaction to your devastating indictment of the opposition is going to be "Oh yeah? And your politician/party hasn't behaved just as badly or worse?" while my second will be, "Assuming this stuff you're saying hasn't been blown way out of proportion/taken out of context/made up out of whole cloth to begin with."

If you want to actually impress me or have any chance of persuading me, you'll need to think positive, not negative. Instead of cutting down your opposition or complaining bitterly about the status quo, try telling me the benefits of seeing things from your perspective, and showing me all the good things your side has done or is in the process of doing. Try being courteous to your opposition, and giving them credit as intelligent human beings -- however misguided, erroneous, or even venal you may think they are -- instead of loathsome caricatures. Trust me, that'll go a lot farther to make me sympathetic to your point of view.
I don't usually blog (or even talk) about political issues, and I'm not sure that I agree with all of the author's particular illustrations and applications in this article, but on the whole I think it well argued and worth reading.

The Problem With Conservatism

Mind you, he's writing from an American point of view and speaking to American history: perhaps his essay on Liberalism (which I haven't read yet) would be more appropriate for a Canadian audience. But I suspect the majority of my readers are in the U.S. (or familiar with its politics) anyway, and also the general flaws he points out in political conservatism could apply to any country.

In any case, I certainly agree that neither liberalism nor conservatism, in the political sense, can be considered a God-blessed position and the duty of all right-thinking Christians to support. Both systems are guilty of seriously anti-Biblical thinking at times, and have to be carefully considered and measured in the light of Scriptural principles.

Election Day

Nov. 2nd, 2004 09:56 am
rj_anderson: (Zot & Jenny)
For some reason I am now possessed of a sudden and profound urge to listen to Arcadia.

I have nothing to say about the US election. Not only because it's not my country, but those who know me will be aware by now that I am almost pathologically apolitical. I mistrust the whole political system--I don't just mean the US system, I mean any and every political system there is--and everyone involved in it. But I try to remember to pray for those in power, whoever they may be. And yes, I do vote, however dubiously.

It is a gloomy, rainy day outside. I am on Day Nine of a horrible cold. I have a lot of things to get done this week and I am coping with the pressure by assiduously doing none of them. (Yet.)

I think I shall go and make myself a cup of tea.
I took the test at the The Political Compass a couple of weeks ago, and again this morning, and both times it declared me a member of the Authoritarian Left and suggested I read the works of Lenin and Mao Tse-Tung. Wah! Of course, in this context the left-right spectrum is focused on economic policy, and I guess my mistrust of big business and capitalism for its own sake came through there. But Lenin and Mao? That's just wrong. :(

On another quasi-political note, but one more in line with my interests, I turned on CBC Radio One this morning to hear an interview with Jerry Jenkins of the bestselling Left Behind series. Since the focus of the show was political rather than creative, nothing was said about the bad prose, hackneyed dialogue and flat "golly gee" characterization that make those books so (IMO) painful to read and their enormous success (to me) so inexplicable; but apart from that, it seemed like a reasonably fair interview. It's not Jenkins and LaHaye's theology I disagree with (for the most part, anyway); but I believe the cartoonish speculation that drives the books, far from being compelling and persuasive as the authors obviously hope, actually ends up making premillenial eschatology look stupid. Not to mention confusing a lot of readers as to which parts of this sweeping end-times scenario are actually drawn from the Bible and which parts are authorial invention.

Anyway, the Jenkins interview was followed by an interesting talk with two analysts who worry that the bestselling series may have a dangerous effect on U.S. domestic and foreign policy, particularly with regard to the Middle East. They were obviously well familiar with the books and their content -- a good deal more so than I am, in fact -- and most of their discourse was fairly intelligent, but a few of their misapprehensions bothered me. For one, they kept talking about "dispensationalism" instead of "premillenialism" to describe Jenkins and LaHaye's eschatology. The two ideas are often connected, but they aren't synonymous. For another, they seemed to think that premillenialists believe that all Jews will be wiped off the face of the earth in God's final judgment, which is not true either. (Unless, I suppose, one argues that the moment a Jew confesses Jesus as Messiah he immediately ceases to be Jewish, regardless of birth or culture. But even so, there will be a great many more Gentiles judged than there will be Jews, so it's hardly an anti-semitic proposition.)

I shouldn't complain too much, though. It could have been a lot worse.
...but then the Political Compass tells me that I'm a member of the Authoritarian Left, which is even more giggle-worthy. Anyway...

Tolkienology 101: What is Your Tolkien Belief System?

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