January 10, 2008

[Comparison] POLItics or AESTHEtics?

With the US Presidential Candidate Race in full swing, some of us are finding the nature of American campaign politics to be a little too aesthetic - lacking any discussion about principles. Instead of talking about Obama or Clinton's actual platforms all we hear on the news is that Clinton garnered support after a public crying incident and Obama has the backing of talk show host Oprah Winfrey. Needless to say, something is seriously wrong with this picture (incidentally, the picture here is Mitt Romney getting is hourly dose of makeup).

In depicting the demise of American democracy over the last forty years, Lewis H. Lapham had this to say (in the January 2008 issue of Harper's):

"Forty years ago, in the midst of the democratic uproar otherwise known as the 1960s, it was still possible to think that political theory had something to do with the practice of government, that the country's elected representatives were somehow responsive to the voice of the sovereign people... Political debate took the form of argument instead of being staged as high school spelling bees; haircuts weren't yet rated as significant campaign issues; the cost of running for Congress was equal to the cost of buying the medallion for a New York taxi-cab."

Oh how times have changed...

When I was asked which candidate I would support, I drew a blank, first of all because I doubt I'd support any of them, but secondly because I realized I didn't know a heck of a whole lot about each candidate's platforms. It also turns out that it is difficult to find a website out there that offers a clear comparison of all the candidates and what kinds of legislation they might enact if they were elected. So, I decided to make my own little chart (it will be in a constant state of repair and construction, but I don't intend to remove it). It's a google doc, and I think you can access it here:


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