Friday, December 10, 2010

Seeking the Vice Presidency of the United States in 2012

With Sarah Palin's new reality show and the posturing over tax cuts, don't ask/don't tell, and the START treaty, the election season of 2012 has begun.  And so I believe it is time to announce my candidacy for the Vice President of the United States.

Why seek an office that has been unfavorably compared with a "bucket of warm piss"?  Why not seek the "leader[ship] of the free world"?  For one, seeking the presidency is an act of tremendous self-regard.  For another, once a person declares for the presidency, then the focus is on that person's prospects and personality, not ways of working or orientation to the world.  And more significantly, by starting with the Vice Presidency and building a group--prospective Secretaries of State and Treasury and Defense--voters will have the chance to consider the entire team, not just its most prominent member.  So I'm recruiting for the "minor" positions.  We will get to the presidency when we have some time.

What will we do?  We will not speak of "the American [anything]."  No mention of the American people--there is no such thing, just shifting coalitions of people living in the United States.  No "American economy."  The economy is a complicated system stretching around the globe and focusing in towns and neighborhoods and homes.  There is no line where the American economy ends and others begin.

We will not suggest that the choices are "either/or".  Everything is "neither/and."  For example, the current debate is not about a tax cut for the wealthy or about creating jobs.  It is about both.  And about neither.

We will not take responsibility for anything that we are not responsible for.  Nor will we blame anyone or any other party for something.  The President does not fix or ruin the economy.  No one has that much influence.  We live in an interconnected world--at best we can shake one part of the web.  So we ought not to be too proud of our ability to actually do things, or too quick to claim that our opponents have done something.

We will not solve problems.  Problems, at least serious ones, don't get solved.  They get worked on, and the solution leaves other issues still to work on.  Governments don't solve problems, they pick their favorite version and struggle against it.

We will raise taxes and cut programs because our government is both too poor and too big. We will become increasingly unpopular and be happy with that.

We will point towards a future where groups of people can work on the problems that they favor at the level they can work on them.  We will be libertarian in politics and communitarian in organization.  We will expect that the government of the United States will remain a defender of the liberties of the people who reside in its borders and the setter of aspirations.  But it will not run the programs or make the decisions about how to get to those aspirations.  So we may want all 18-year olds to graduate high school.  Excellent aspiration.  Let communities and schools and parents start working.  In other words, more judiciary, more rule of law; fewer laws, smaller executive branch.  Government as accrediting body.

We will hope for a future where the United States is a big Switzerland--prosperous, free, democratic, neutral, and less concerned about its place on the world stage and the use of power than about helping people and nations work out their difficulties even if it makes us seem weak.

I am of course jesting--a person like me has no chance of becoming Vice President. A platform like this, that focuses on rhetoric and process, means close to nothing in our system. And a plan like this to circumvent the electoral circus and the hubris of the Presidency stands no chance.  But I am serious about the future I would like to see and the pathway to it.  Anyone interested?


derek bitter said...

I'm interested. I just feel like I don't have the energy for these things. I'm working on getting some though.

Anonymous said...

Not that I would ever vote Republican, but sure, I'd support you. Libertarian in politics, communitarian in organization -- I could live with that! Question: why aren't there any (or at least why so few) reasonable conservative politicians on the national scene? In my opinion, "real" thinkers eventually come around to a progressive world view, which is why most academics (at least in the humanities and social sciences) are liberals. Real thinkers who are conservative (such as yourself) don't seem to be inclined to enter the business of politics.