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It's the Issues, Stupid

December 20, 2006

Here is an example. An example of the ridiculous inanity that passes for conversation on the radio sometimes. I won’t mention the name of the show (which I often enjoy) or the participants (whose identities are not important.)

I paraphrase. Note: [bracketed comments] are entirely fictitious and were in no way part of the conversation. I add them here just because I can; and in my own way, to make note of their absence:

So what do you think about John McCain? Is he electable?

He seems to be the front-runner right now, but I don’t know that he’s realistically electable.

What about Hillary? Is she electable?

She’s got good name recognition, but I don’t know that she is really electable where she would need to be electable. I mean I’m not so sure she is electable enough to get the electoral votes in the places she needs to be electable to win an election.

She’s polling well right now. That doesn’t mean she’s electable?

No, polling is useless. Polling only measures ‘name-recognition.’ Which doesn’t always measure electablility. (Just ask Lieberman. Everybody’s known that dude’s name since he ran for Vice President.) Giuliani and Hillary have good name recognition right now, but it’ll be interesting to see how things change as people get to know McCain and Obama.

[What about Kucinich? He’s already thrown his hat in the ring.]

[Who the fuck is that? Never heard of him. Talk about name recognition — I said name recognition doesn’t always equal electability; but you still gotta have some of that shit.]

Obama? He seems like a whole lotta electable, doesn’t he? Hunka-hunka electable, right?

Yeah, but he’s electable as a possible candidate. I’m not sure he will stay electable as an actual candidate. You know, once the press turns on him like they did Screamin’ Howard Dean. Remember how electable Dean seemed at first? As for now, I’d wager if you did a poll you’d find that folks ‘in the know’ on the grass-roots level find Obama very electable — more electable than Hillary, even. … But look, the election is almost two years away, let’s wait and see who actually decides to run, then we’ll figure out who’s electable and who’s not electable.

[Kucinich has already actually thrown his hat in the ring.]

[Who the fuck is that again?]

How sad is that? In the context of a conversation that is meaningless because the elections are so far off, in which it isn’t worth discussing the electability of candidates who haven’t officially declared their candidacies yet, a candidate that has officially declared his candidacy isn’t even worth a mention.

Hey, I have an idea! … NAAAH. It’d never work.

Wanna hear it anyway?

Why not talk about actual candidates and… oh, I don’t know… THE FUCKING ISSUES?!

Sure, of course, I know Dennis Kucinich isn’t electable. He’s short, funny looking, and his wife seems a little too taken with astrology. But, damn it, most everything that comes out of his mouth makes sense. Sure his plan for Iraq— cut off funding and bring all of the troops home immediately —is extreme. But what’s the harm in that, when the opposite extreme view— How do we fix a war gone bad? More war! Send more troops! —is being espoused by one high profile ‘potential candidate’ and, it seems, being pursued by the administration?

Look, there’s time yet. Nearly two years! That’s a lot of time to give all of our candidates a fair hearing, and talk about the issues. Why fritter around with this ultimately meaningless conversation— A conversation that includes a discussion of how meaningless the conversation is! —when progressives would be better served by talking about actual issues and ideas, even the ones that seem wacky and extreme compared to the currently accepted, narrowly defined, ‘fair ground’ for political discourse. Especially on progressive radio. What else are you there for, progressive radio?

Two years of talk, of repetition, of honing the message… and it’ll start making sense to voters, (those who are the only real measure of electability.)

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