Tuesday, July 6, 2004

What Wasn't I Going to Talk About...?

Had an interesting political discussion with my father the other day.  Interesting in that we generally vote on opposite sides of the line (candidate-wise), but it seems that, at heart, with a few exceptions, we generally want the same things out of government.

The difference between us comes not so much in our views on any particular issues, but in the order in which those issues strike us as important.

Which is to say that if we were creating a dream candidate for the office of President, we would likely create pretty much the same person.  And we both agree on the ways in which the major party candidates for that office fail to live up to our joint ideal.  (And, boy, does it take the steam out of your argument when your opponent goes, "Yep, absolutely, my guy is totally wrong on that.")  The reason why our votes keep cancelling each other out is simply that my father would prefer a president with one set of (admitted) flaws, while I lean in the other direction.

This really threw me -- for starters, it turned out that we ultimately had very little to argue about. Our difference is really a matter of issue ordering -- and it's really hard to convince someone that they should think "X" issue is more important than "Y" issue -- because importance is something of a personal preference.

But the other thing that got me on this is that we really could agree on most of the things we'd want in an ideal candidate.  Which raises the question of why the hell nobody is running such a candidate.  Now, obviously, my father and I don't represent the entire political spectrum here -- clearly a candidate who is totally acceptable to the both of us would likely be unacceptable to lots of other people.  But it did point out to me, in rather stark terms, how polarized the parties have become in catering to the extremists in both camps.  Because, dang, if Mr. Lifelong Republican and his Lifelong Democrat daughter can reach an agreement over dinner, there's certainly some swing votes to be had if only the parties would go about actively courting them.

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