As you all know, I often test-run concepts here before posting them permanently at davidbrin.com. For example, my recent thoughts about how the incoming U.S. Congress might change the nation's way of doing business. Many of these unconventional proposals may sound good to reasonable people from all sides, including both conservatives and liberals.
Now for something much darker, cynical, and paranoid! Come see a chillingly plausible way that powerful forces may try to affect our politics by using the age-old trick of blackmail.
Speaking of suggestions... for those wanting to see some serious action out of Congress: Energize America is a comprehensive and compelling 20-point plan developed by informed citizen activists to wean the U.S. from its fossil fuel addiction and provide the U.S. with Energy Security by 2020, and Energy Freedom by 2040. Definitely worth all our support. A great start on implementing the energy portion of my list of suggestions.
And for you “voting process” nitpickers, the Center for Range Voting web site,started by a Princeton math professor, takes mathematics and technology applied to the problem of truly responsive democracy. Always an interesting topic.
---- PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS
Yes, we have started (already?) thinking about the crucial 2008 election, with its historical goal - rescuing Western Civilization from genuine monsters. To that end, I believe we should try to tune our efforts for maximum probability of success. And that means tuning down culture war. Finding candidates who can - while powerfully expressing modernist-progressive policies, nevertheless reach out to moderate/sincere conservative Americans and thereby leave the fanatics isolated, marginalized. The best possible outcome for America and the world.
As I’ve pointed out, the current democratic front runners are all US Senators. In most cases, they seem generally admirable people. Solid folks who are liberal in the best sense of the word and not really “leftist” in any meaningful way. Nevertheless, some, such as Hillary Clinton, carry divisive baggage that they never earned. Tragic, but true. And as a pragmatic matter, the prospect of another decade of “culture war” fills me with dread. As for Edwards and Obama and several others, I have to ask, “What did you ever accomplish, that qualifies you for such a role?”
So - in order to clear the slate and look a little harder - I came up with a slogan - ”No senators!”
Yes, that may strike some as bigoted or unfair. But I respond that this time, we simply cannot afford to take chances. Only one person in a hundred years has gone from the Senate directly to the White House... and JFK barely succeeded. Moreover, he proved to be a very (ahem) uneven individual, for example, completely maladroit at actual arts of administration.
No, let’s face facts. the title “senator” is a political kiss of death. Moreover, governors appear to be - by temperament AND training AND experience - better suited to both win and manage an executive office like the presidency.
Please try “no senators” on for size. Roll it across the tongue.
So who? Like many people, I had been fascinated by former Virginia Governor Mark Warner, whose popularity in his home southern state was built upon genuine people-connection, without sacrificing fealty to liberal progressivism. (Well, 1990s liberalism that balances budgets.) So it was with some worried puzzlement that I - and many others - greeted news that Warner was dropping out of presidential contention. “spending more time with my family” is a standard nostrum for “it’s none of your damn business.” Still, the novelist in me comes up with scenarios (see above.) In any event, it’s a disappointment.
Alternatives? Bill Richardson of New Mexico is a rare governor with genuine national security and foreign policy experience. Former Energy Secretary, UN Ambassador and member of Congress. Also a Hispanic and someone able to relate to “red” America on a cultural level, nullifying the resentment of “cityboy snootiness” that underlies so much of the hatred of liberalism. I also like General Clark. Ponder the possibilities.
---- OTHER (HUMOROUS!) POLITICAL RIFFS
1) The latest Armageddon Buffet is online and ready for gourmands to gorge upon. http://www.armageddonbuffet.com/
2) Any Stephen Colbert fans out there? Like many others, I am fascinated by the gorgeous consistency of his shtick, maintaining the seamless image of an obstinate and troglodytic (but vastly more charming) Bill O’Reilly clone. Frankly, I have never seen a comic/satiric act performed with such dedication and unfailing dependability...
That is, until I suddenly remembered. Hannity’s sidekick and purported “liberal” voice for Fox News... Colmes! OMG! The fellow we had all taken for a dunce and foil for Hannity, deliberately chosen in order to NOT be his match or ever hold up reason in a good light, was not chosen by Rupert Murdoch because of defects, but because he is a genius! He has been doing the Colbert thing for years, in the opposite direction and without the humor, but with dedication and utter persistence, never receiving the plaudits or any of Colbert’s fun. Oh, what unsung brilliance. The Colbert/Colmes effect. Stephen really owes a debt.
3) I have further pondered the possibility of a satirical YouTube skit, doing a “round” using the names Bush and Clinton ad nauseam. Remember the funny “this land is your land” routine that got so much attention during the Kerry-Bush race? If done right, flashing pictures of Bush Sr then Bill C, then W, then Hillary, then Jeb, then Chelsea, then Jenna... with a timeline boundcng around at the bottom of the screen... it could be wonderful!
Actually, it’d have to be scripted a bit more complicated than that, in order to milk the humor. Id envision first doing it up to the present, ... then repeating the refrain and taking it slightly farther with a question mark leading to Hillary.... Then AGAIN, pushing even farther in time to Jeb, as the singers start to look panicky, yet unable to stop....
But stop is exactly what I will do, right now.