Politics

What did I miss?

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After a month-long holiday and blogging hiatus (Very good thank you – fishing in Michigan, eating and drinking to excess in France – It was great.), I am trying to get back into the swing of things. What better way to get up to speed than to immerse myself in Donklephant and other favorite blogs, and distill what I have missed and the lessons learned into a post. I think I’ve got it now:

Barack Obama is an ambitious politician who wants to be President. Barack Obama declared his previous statement committing to public financing of his Presidential campaign to be inoperative. He was forced into this, in order to combat the attacks coming from the Right Wing 527 attack machine that… ummm…. apparently does not exist. At least not yet. Oh – and also because he learned during the primary campaign that he can raise more money than God. This has distressed some of his supporters, who are concerned that Obama might superficially appear to the uninitiated to resemble a self-serving ambitious politician. I don’t know why they would think that. I mean, why would anyone think that a successful Chicago politician who cut his political teeth by clawing his way up through the precincts and wards of the bare knuckle Chicago Democratic political machine would turn out to be the kind of politician who will say whatever he needs to say to get votes and do whatever is politically expedient to get elected? No one would think that.

John McCain is an ambitious politician who wants to be President. Some of McCain’s supporters are also concerned, even though McCain reversed his position on the offshore drilling moratorium after learning that 2/3 of the electorate want to see the moratorium ended. They apparently fear that John McCain is not enough of a self-serving politician since he has not yet flip-flopped on drilling in ANWR. They have nothing to fear. John McCain has shown a perfect willingness to pander to the right, left, and center, say whatever he needs to say to get votes, and do whatever is politically expedient to get elected.

No really, Barack Obama is an ambitious politician who wants to be President. Some Obama supporters are concerned that by suggesting “NAFTA is not so bad after all, Obama might appear to be backtracking on his strongly expressed previously held position opposing NAFTA. Said position being exactly what he needed to say to win support in Democratic primaries, but no longer needs now that he superficially appears to be emulating every single winning Presidential candidate of the last forty years who moved to the center in order to win the general election. Their concern is that Obama fails to understand that he is not just an ambitious politician who wants to be President, but the leader of a glorious People’s Movement and Popular Uprising. Perhaps it will be easier for Progressives to deal with this turn of events if they do not think of Obama as reversing the NAFTA campaign promise he made to blue collar Democrats, but rather he is fulfilling the NAFTA campaign promise he made to the Canadians.

James Madison was right…
…when he wrote this in the Federalist Paper #51:

Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place. It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.”

Madison was explaining that checks, balances, and the separation of power in our constitutional government is needed to prevent the naked ambition of our less-than-angelic leaders from running roughshod over the freedom of the governed. Madison’s argument is equally applicable to voting for divided government, in order to ensure that single party rule does not undermine our constitutional checks and balances, as we saw most recently during the six years of Republican rule.

Full Disclosure: I knew that Madison was right before I took my blogging hiatus.

x-posted from Divided We Stand United We Fall