After Magritte

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Monday, January 09, 2006

Why Democrats lose

I know a lot of people pontificate on how to win elections. Unfortunately, my guess is that most of these people are really saying, “run the country exactly my way, and you will win elections” or “hire me to win elections.’ So here is my take, and you don’t even have to hire me.

Pre Bush, the ideological agreement in this country (between people with any intelligence and decency) has been about the size of the government. The classic conservatives want smaller, the classic liberals want larger. I am not addressing the social wingnuts at all here. (Post Bush, there is just the insane kleptocracy of the republican taliban, but that is another post).

The huge advantage that the conservatives have in this argument is that just about every interaction with the government that a private individual has is horrific. If you want to argue for universal health care, how do you respond to the argument of “So you want going to the doctor to be like going to the DMV?” I cannot tell you how much this pisses me off. It allows the conservatives to sidestep the actual issue, because they can count on the country having no confidence in the government to execute. That was the only logic behind the attack on Social Security. Without the Iraq disaster, you have to wonder if it would have worked.

It is a matter of simple competence. If you want to convince someone that the government should be bigger, it needs to do a better job doing what it is supposed to do. And not just the big – Katrina disaster, CIA – things. Even the little things, especially the little things. That is my interaction with the government. The face of the government is the surly woman at the DMV. Yeah these are different levels of government, but most people view it all as government.

So, would it kill the Dems to run on a platform of better government and then actually deliver. Slight improvements on little things would make such a huge difference in how people felt about their government. That would lead to more support for larger government.

So here are two of my recent examples of trying to deal with the government on any level.

First, I needed the damn 2 cent stamps. To the post office I go on the Sat before the postal increase. There is no extra staffing there, and both machines are broken. So, you have to wait in line forever behind some person mailing a live goat to Burkina Faso (They have a lovely film festival by the way).

Second. I get a letter from a city department of scenic Oakland. I have a question regarding what they want me to do (Some form needs filling out), so I call the number on the letter. During normal business hours – not even at lunch time. 25 rings, no pick up. Call back 10 min later. On the 25th ring, it is picked up. The person who sent me the letter is not in, but their assistant might be, so I am transferred there.

OK, who has assistants now anyway. In private industry, not many people. I have no assistant who takes my calls. Maybe ½ the VPs at my company have assistants. At my last place only the CEO did. But it gets better. I get the assistant’s voice mail. Leave a message, please call me, blah blah blah. 10 days later, no call.

I call back. I get the actual person from my letter’s voice mail. Please call. That was a month ago. I may have even left another message. WHO THE FUCK DOESN’T RESPOND TO A VOICE MAIL. How do these people have jobs? What exactly do they do all day? Clearly, I will never hear from them. I threw away their letter. Hope it wasn't important.

The Dems have a great opportunity to run at every level on a platform of removing all the “Brownie’s” The only problem with that is, if you win, you have to actually get rid of them.


Blogger Vanilla Bullshit said...

I agree. However, Americans who travel realize that even bad American bureaucracy is better than anywhere else in the world.

However, most of America doesn't realize this because they believe it is akin to treason to leave the country on vacation, at the very least unpatriotic. I mean, do you remember where YOU where when the towers fell?

Here's the problem - all gov't bureaucrats on the level you describe are low level people without much education. They don't get paid well and everybody yells at them all day long which is at least partly justified. So they aren't happy people. And because they're American, they eat unhealthily and have all kinds of their own problems. They are there because they want to get paid not becuase they want you to make sure to get your 2 cents, it being their job or not. It's institutional in bureaucratic cultures too, to just slack off and yak with your co-workers about gossip and what happened on dancing with the stars last night.

The Democrats aren't going to change that - ever.

10:16 PM  
Blogger TubaOnFire said...

You are right and that is why Rome is dying. No one really gives a shit. It would be nice to see a little effort and a little pride.

8:48 AM  
Blogger Vanilla Bullshit said...

We had pride cleaning toilets for Montanans.

2:48 PM  
Blogger TubaOnFire said...

Fuck yeah, we did. Best damn PA's they had. Why not? You've gotta be there anyway, why not do the damn work. I mean, we coulda been Cliff and Don. That just would have left us getting pulled one day.

SND. The second day, that realization was such a tremendous moment.

3:29 PM  
Blogger Vanilla Bullshit said...

That was a truly great summer. We hiked so much. And I fucked Chele. A lot. However our basketball and Country Time episodes may well be #1 on my mental list with the header: "Youth."

And we almost died trying to freeclimb the mountain that time. And nachos and Snickers and roaming and hash browns and the Love Truck.

5:32 PM  

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