Sunday, September 19, 2010

Culture Wars?

Having recently (nearly) finished "Culture Wars?" by Morris P. Fiorina, I feel compelled to give a brief overview of the book's arguments:
  • Americans are not polarized or divided, for the most part. We actually agree on most issues.
  • Politicians, on the other hand, are extreme, divisive, and essentially out of touch with what most people want.
  • As an example, most Americans are fine with abortion in the case of rape, life endangerment, and even birth defects. Most Americans are not okay with abortion for marital, gender-selection, or contraceptive motivations. Yet, politicians and, specifically, political parties adhere to rigid "pro-choice" all-the-time or "pro-life" all-the-time ideologies, which essentially represent no one.
  • By representing no one (or roughly 10% of the population; extremists on any issue), parties deter most people from politics; only roughly 50% of Americans vote for President.
  • One thing that could be done to help would be Primary Election reform. Primaries, when parties select which candidate to run in the general election, are mostly voted in by people of extreme views; most other people don't really care to vote. In Iowa, for example, voter turnout is generally around 10% for primary elections, but 50% for general elections. And the freaking Iowa Caucus is supposed to be important. However, the book argues, if states reformed primaries such that anyone could vote for any party's candidates, instead of having to select one party, then moderate, independent people (the overwhelming majority of Americans, according to the book) could vote for moderate candidates, who could in turn actually win those elections. Instead, because one has to identify with or select a party in most state primaries, only people with extreme views or strong party affiliations go and vote for their parties, and only extreme candidates win, making it to the general election. The population, party-associated or not, is then stuck with extremists to decide between.
Other things on my mind:
- College seriously expects us to read entire books per week? This brings up the questions (1) can this be done, and (2) why did I buy the books, when I only needed them for a week?
- "Begs the question" is a commonly misused idiom. Mr. Moxey gets credit for first bringing this to my attention. You cannot say, "This begs the question, 'will we ever know the truth?'" You can say, "'Why is democracy the best form of government?' 'Because a government that is democratic will be best.' 'Hey, that begs the question!'" Learn more.
- Archived Dr. Who episodes are online. I intend to watch them all. Once I have time.
- It is superior to shower in the morning.
- Always carry a towel.
- You just lost the game.
- Ricky made a Blog.
- I do not need to carry around my mailbox key with my room key; I only confuse them anyway.
- Douglas Adams was hysterical.
- Making nouns into gerunds is erroring the English language.

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