Saturday, February 6, 2010

Just Say Ixnay

Stan Trollip's recent piece, with its disparaging reference to professional politicians, has inspired me -- maybe even changed my life. (I'm only about two-thirds kidding.)

This world we share is in a pitiful state -- economically, environmentally, politically, intellectually, even aesthetically -- and professional politicians are about 70% to blame for it. The other 30% of the blame can be split evenly between the increasingly irresponsible (and stupid) media and the world's increasingly gullible (and stupid) voters.

Anyway, Stan has inspired me. I'm going to found a new nonpolitical nonparty called the Ixnaycrats. "Ixnay" is pig-Latin for "nix," and the nonparty's slogan will be "Just say ixnay" -- to all incumbents, no matter of what party, to all professional politicians of any stripe. We will vote for nonprofessionals only, on the assumption that nonprofessionals, when elected to positions of leadership will attempt to lead, whereas professional politicians simply attempt to ensure their re-election.

Let me rephrase that. The moment a professional politician - right, left, or center -- wins office, his or her one and only priority is to gain re-election. Forget issues, forget personal or professional convictions, forget the best interests of the nation. It's about getting re-elected, baby, and that's all it's about.

We are long past the point at which political parties stand for anything. They're all businesses, beholden to other businesses, and the business they're in is getting and holding power. Take America, where the Republicans are traditionally supposed to stand for small government, individual liberties, and fiscal restraint, while the Democrats are supposed to stand for activist government that addresses social inequity. Well, the last three Republican presidents, Reagan, Bush I and Bush II (and how's that for a mournful litany?) all increased the size of government (especially Bush II), increased the national deficit (Bush II to the largest point in history until Obama got hold of it), and Bush II grabbed more power with the Patriot Act than any president in history.

The only American president in years to leave a balanced budget and a surplus was a Democrat, Bill Clinton. But the very next Democrat, Obama, came in and threw zillions of dollars at everything in the world and then declined to rescind the Patriot Act, which deprives hundreds of millions of people (not just Americans) of essential rights in order to protect the world's most powerful country from a handful of pissed-off fanatics with bad personal hygiene and a ninth-century world view. And why didn't he rescind the Act? Because if he had, and there had been an Islamist strike, he, Obama, would have been toast, a one-term president.

So Obama, "hope" notwithstanding, is just another pro.

The people who founded this nation saw public service as being a service, as the term implies, not a lifelong career path for the power-hungry. People were supposed to emerge from private life in order to contribute to society and then, as George Washington did, to go home and shut up when they'd finished. That's a great idea for all countries, and I think we need to get back to it.

Let's retire the conviction-free blowhards and gasbags at both ends of the political spectrum and replace them with people who will serve and then quit. Here's what we do; here's the Ixnaycrat Anti-Platform:

1. Vote for term limits. A politician who can't legally be re-elected might pay at least some attention to the people's business.

2. Vote against all incumbents of all parties on all levels of government.

3. Vote for the incumbent's opponent who has the least political experience. Vote for school teachers, pavement artists, community activists, homeless people, trust-fund babies. Vote for atheists, fundamentalists, agnostics, gold-standard fanatics, Giants fans, left-handers, morticians, whoopee-cushion manufacturers. Vote for anyone who's not a professional politician.

4. When the people you've elected become incumbents, vote them out, too.

I can hear the objections now: What about experience? What about continuity?

Well, as far as I can see, experience and continuity got us into this. Dick Cheney and Joe Biden, to pick on the two most recent American vice-presidents, are paragons of experience and continuity. I don't know about you, but as much as I've disliked most of America's recent presidents, I did pray that they wouldn't die.

Take back your country, whatever country it is. Get rid of the gasbags. Retire the political parties and their connections to big business.

Just say Ixnay.

Tim -- Sunday


  1. Tim, I'm with you 100%! IXNAY for President! Much as I think Obama is a huge improvement on his predecessors, and the US sent a huge message to the world after the offensive paternalism of the latter Bush, I was horrified that he seems to be making Afghanistan his own war (presumably since Iraq is already taken). Eyes fixed on 2012...

    One of the great things about Nelson Mandela was that he never was a professional politician. Despite almost universal calls for him to stay on, he set his own term limit - one - and stuck to that.


  2. YES!!!!

    The first raised-fist chant of IXNAY!!!

    Thanks, Michael -- the world already seems like a better place. And Nelson Mandela is absolutely the best example I can think of. Gandhi comes to mind, too, although he declined to hold public office.

    But those are the people we need, not these blow-dried hacks with their opinion polls and their hands in the pockets of big business.

    I'm going to start an Ixnaycrats website. I think lots of people in lots of countries are sick of all the parties.

  3. Tim, are you channeling Nancy Reagan? That slogan didn't work out too well for her.

    I agree with #1 on your platform.

    #2,voting against all incumbents, raises the spector of Scott Brown, a name whose mere mention sends my blood pressure into the stratosphere.

    Until the "moneybomb" and the "million dollars in 24 hours" came flooding into Massachusetts from out of state, Scott Brown was a non-entity. He describes himself as "fiscally conservative and socially conscious", a definite contradiction as seen by the a vote he cast and a piece of legislation that he filed.

    Some background:

    Brown has been in the National Guard for 30 years. He has not served in Iraq or Afghanistan but spent two weeks in Kazakhstan and a week in Paraguay. He is the lead defense attorney of guardsmen who have disciplinary issues because of drugs and he also helps with estate planning. Not much heavy lifting involved. After the attack on 9/11, Brown organized some troops to "keep America safe"; I have not found any information that indicates that he actually went to Ground Zero himself. For organizing these troops, he was awarded for meritorious service in homeland security.

    In October, 2001, a month after the attack, Brown cast one of three votes against a bill in the MA house that would pay state employees who volunteered with the Red Cross as first responders. The bill would pay these state workers for 15 days of service; up to this point they had to use sick or vacation days. Scott Brown voted against it because it wasn't fiscally responsible. He, of course, is paid for his National Guard service.

    He further advanced his credentials as being "socially conscious" when he sponsored legislation that would allow emergency room medical personnel to turn away rape victims if they objected to giving rape victims emergency contraception. Brown's not pro-life; he supports abortion rights so apparently it is more fiscally responsible to wait and see if a pregnancy actually occurs before treating the victim.

    Brown also opposes gay rights but I don't know whether that reflects his fiscal conservativism or his social conscience. Scott Brown didn't defeat an incumbent but he is the poster boy for be careful what you wish for. The best that can be said for him is that he does have a vested interest in veteran's issues.

    Does Sarah Palin fit the requirements of #3? She was a professional for less than a full term as governor and, while she was governor, she didn't seem to handle the job very professionally so she could be considered a non-professional professional politician.

    Politicians and the media are not responsible for this mess. It falls 100% upon the shoulders of the voters who allow themselves to be manipulated by the media.

    As to Obama, Rush told the "ditto heads" (what does that say about the right wing?) that he was going to do everything in his power to make sure that Obama fails. Their loyalty isn't to the country, it is to their party. And it is naive to believe that the hatred of Obama isn't racist.

  4. I prefer my Greek island where all is peace and love. And if you believe that about the cradle of democracy...

    Permit me to raise one question.

    Does anyone believe that meaningful change on the levels discussed here possibly can occur where lobbyists (no matter what the name) reign? And without term limits.

    Prescinding if we may from relationships established by lobbyists with seasoned legislators, how can legislative rookies (to use a term particularly suited to this Super Bowl Sunday), no matter how well intentioned to better serve, possibly fathom the intricacies of all the legislation tossed before them.

    Generally, they lack the resources, including experienced staff, necessary to comprehend even the central issues, let alone the nits, twists, and turns. So, who comes to their rescue with helpful explanations? Yep, the few paid to educate the few hundred elected to serve the millions.

    Isn't the real question, how does a country, any country, survive the power of its lobbyists?

    Now back to my island.

  5. "Retire the political parties and their connections to big business."

    And that, Tim, cuts right to the heart of the matter. Sometimes, when something's seriously broken, it's best not merely to fix it, but to redesign it so that it can't break again. A lot needs to be done to fix this mess, but whichever ways we go about it, it's imperative to good government (and all that that implies) that political power concentrates back in the hands of the people.

    Ixnay to anything that doesn't serve that purpose.

  6. The Supreme Court's 5-4 ruling lifting restrictions on corporate funding of political broadcasts before an election, allows Goldman Sachs et al to bury candidates they don't want under media ads for the candidates they do want. We can all breathe a sigh of relief that Goldman's first amendment rights are no longer restricted.

    The 24/7 news cycle, which you may miss out on, Jeff, needs to be restricted, freedom of speech or not. Those networks have to fill time and since the American public seems to have the attention span of a 4 year-old, things are presented before anyone has had the time to think them through. This leads to political analysis by Joe the Plumber, who it seems wasn't even a registered voter when he became the voice of America.

    When Ronald Reagan was president, Tip O'Neil was the Speaker of the House. There could not be two men who had less in common but they knew they had to work together. Each would rail against the other publically and privately they would have a drink and get business done. They compromised, a word that has been removed from the political vocabulary.

    Tip was an old style politician. He wrote a book entitled ALL POLITICS ARE LOCAL. A return to that idea might help.

  7. Hi, all --

    Beth -- You're right, it's a play on Nancy Reagan, and I AM channeling her because my closet is suddenly full of Galanos.

    Scott Brown, (although I don't like him, either) is a perfect example of what can happen when people get sick of professional politicians. And this is what can happen when people DON'T get sick of professional politician: GW Bush, Dick Cheney, Joe Biden, Tony Blair, Robert Byrd, Orval Faubus, Rod Blagojevich, that guy Jefferson in Louisiana with the money in his freezer, 80% of the current House of Representatives and 70% of the Senate, and on and on. And Scott Brown actually won because (a) people are bitterly disappointed in Obama (and with some cause) and his opponent ran the worst campaign since John Kerry ran for president. And of course, politicians are responsible, at least 70 percent, because they've sold out the public so thoroughly that neither party stands for anything, and I did give the public (stupid) and the media (sensationalistic and stupid) the remaining blame. Oh, and I think the idea of "restricting" the 24-hour news cycle is terrifying. Would you have favored that during the Bush administration? Do you think restriction should end if conservatives take the White House in 2012?

    Jeffrey -- term limits are the first nonplank in the nonplatform. Without term limits, lobbyists will continue to buy individual pros for the duration of their term of office; if term limits are enacted but the parties remain strong, lobbyists will just fund the parties. That's another reason people should stop voting along party lines and vote straight slates of nonincumbents, regardless of party affiliation.

    Phil, one of my biggest disappointments in Obama is that he protected the big banks at the expense of the, um, little people, and did so under a cloak (or tarp?) of secrecy. The only way to break the hold of big business on government is to make it harder for them to predict who will be in power, to weaken the grasp of the two main parties, and to enact strict term limits. They'll still be buying influence, but not as efficiently.

    No pros. Just say Ixnay.

  8. If there was 24 hours of news, restricting it would be a mistake. But the most trusted news channel, because it is fair and balanced, spends very little time giving the news. The closest they come to an actual newsman is Shepherd Smith who has complained about his employers on air. Hannity and O'Reilly aren't newsmen their (obnoxious) personalities, but it is their comments that get repeated over and over for the 24 hours. Saying it over and over makes it real. It was the need to fill time that created soapboxes for the death panel believers and the people on Medicare who screamed that the government better not touch their Medicare.

    Are we actually better off now with round the clock news than we were when there was Huntly and Brinkley and Cronkite for 30 minutes each night? Of course, then we had newspapers and investigative journalism. The 24 hour newscycle played a big part in killing them.

  9. People on the other side of the aisle would say the same thing about Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow, and they'd be as right as you are about the people on Fux, I mean Fox, news. But let's face it -- these days it's ALL pap.

    Here's a brilliant (and I really mean that) insight into how TV news is structured:

    Watch it -- it's only about 45 seconds.

  10. Tim, for some reason I just happened to think about the late Pat Paulsen and his satirical run for President in '68. He campaigned on the promise that if elected, his first official act would be to hand in his resignation. That was good enough for me; I voted for him.

    Thanks for the YouTube link; it goes on my blog, tomorrow.