Friday, November 30, 2007

There is never just ONE WAY

By Carol Gee

Our current president (OCP) has a governing style that is maddening to his opponents. In contrast to former President Clinton's "Third Way," OCP almost always proposes the ONE WAY to handle an issue. Some examples:

  • Hate Crime -- "Civil Rights Protesters Surround The Justice Department, Demand More Focus On Hate Crimes," from Think Progress.Quote:

    Both the House and the Senate have passed hate crimes bills this year, but the Bush administration has threatened to veto any stand alone hate crimes legislation.

  • Firm date for withdrawal -- "Australians set Iraq withdrawal date" from Quote:

    See. Setting a withdrawal timetable really isn't all that difficult. A country just needs a new leader.

  • Spying on Americans -- "Late Nite FDL: Was the Showdown in Ashcroft's Hospital Room Over Internet Spying?" (link included 200+ comments) Quote:

    I have previously written about CALEA (the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act) and the fact that a petition was filed by DOJ, FBI and DEA dated March 10, 2004 asking that the FCC interpret CALEA to make it cover Internet communications.

    The thing is, CALEA really doesn’t seem to cover Internet, at least not according to 3 of the FCC Commissioners.

    . . . Somebody needs to tell Congress, before the FISA telcom immunity vote, cause I’m guessing it’s not just telcos, it’s ISP providers too.

  • Open-ended Iraq war budget -- "The Hidden Costs of Imperialism: Report Estimates Cost of Iraq Occupation at $1.6 Trillion," from The Daily Galaxy. Quote:

    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev said the report "is another reminder of how President Bush's stubborn refusal to change course in Iraq and congressional Republicans' willingness to rubber stamp his failed strategy — has real consequences at home for all Americans."

    The White House is trying to downplay the report, but Israel Klein, spokesman for the Joint Economic Committee, took issue with the White House's dismissive attitude toward the panel's report.

These are just a few of the issues about which OCP maintains that there is one way, his way. Words that have been used by bloggers to describe OCP over the years include, "stubborn, obdurate, unyielding, obstinate, persistent, demanding, difficult." It is perhaps his personality trait, but I submit that it also comes from ignorance and black-and-white or shallow thinking. It is as if OCP is handed a slogan that he then uses as his answer -- forever. Stubbornness can also come from insecurity and immaturity. Wanting one's way as the first requisite signifies an adolescent level of development.

All this is is to suggest that we make our presidential nominee choices based on something other than ONE WAY-style thinking. Think about yourself as a computer user. These (sometimes) "infernal machines" are handy metaphors for political problem solving or choice making.

Computers very often allow us more than one way to do the next task. We can use the "mouse" or keyboard shortcuts. We can use the browser Internet Explorer or increasingly, Mozilla Firefox. We can use the "free" version of a service -- and sometimes look at ads -- or we can purchase an ad-free version. Ironically, that range of choice is a characteristic that has always made the medium almost "the only way" I am now able to write.

I suggest we use the computer model as a way to decide in choosing the Democratic presidential nominee from among a number of excellent candidates. We can avoid the "keyboard shortcuts" of voting for gut feeling, horse-race leader, or electability. We can browse smart with more attention to candidates' positions on issues, rather than debating skills. We can put some money into the effort, whatever we can afford," because that is a solid principle of participation. And you could really stretch yourself by hand writing a note (rather than sending an e-mail) to someone with the power to make a difference in the election.

There is always more than one way for us, if we just think about it a bit. And it just might not hurt to add the leadership qualities of flexibility, intellect, creativity, and personal stability as traits by which to vote for your ultimate candidate.

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

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