Depressingly True

This Salon post argues that no matter who wins the White House, the national security state and the military will keep growing. Obama needs to show he’s “pro-military” because otherwise the Republicans will tag him as a war-wimp. Romney has to prove he’s a sincere conservative, which means (in the eyes of many) that he has to be more aggressive and gung-ho than his opponent.
This is a recurring problem in politics: Once the political class decides “strong on defense” or “tough on crime” (or drugs) is a winning strategy, everyone keeps trying to outdo each other to prove it. So if we’re already fighting wars in a half-dozen countries, the next wave of candidates adds more. The length of sentences grows and the restrictions of appeals increase. To be tough on terrorism, our government imposes even more of a surveillance state and harsher rules infringing free speech (though we did get a victory in one court). Move the other way and you’re soft on crime or anti-war and that’s a career killer (though that doesn’t stop people in Washington taking money from terrorists).
Even when we know it isn’t true—the Repubs ran on keeping the country safe in 2006 and 2008 and did poorly both times—political consultants and the media still keep parroting the cliche. Paul Krugman has pointed out the same thing happening on the budget: Slashing entitlements is the only solution! Tax cuts are the work of Satan! The poor must suffer for the good of the country (David Brooks is among the cliche-spouters).
Throw in all the money floating around—the military industrial complex, for-profit prisons, security companies—and it’s easy to see why so few politicians want to risk throwing sand in the gears.
In other news:
•I have a new Raleigh Public Record article out.
This is a more courteous response to the supporters of Amendment One in North Carolina (and the right wing in general) than I could manage. Here’s another well-phrased comment. A gay blogger points out that what’s “culture war” to Republicans is a serious issue to him.
•Speaking of David Brooks
•Returning to the initial topic, I’ll quote George Orwell’s excellent observation about so many warhawks: “The people who write that kind of stuff never fight; possibly they believe that to write it is a substitute for fighting. It is the same in all wars; the soldiers do the fighting, the journalists do the shouting, and no true patriot ever gets near a front-line trench, except on the briefest of propaganda-tours.
Sometimes it is a comfort to me to think that the aeroplane is altering the conditions of war. Perhaps when the next great war comes we may see that sight unprecedented in all history, a jingo with a bullet-hole in him.”

1 Comment

Filed under economics, Politics

One response to “Depressingly True

  1. Pingback: (“…says Orwell. Catch phrases “will construct your sentences for you – even think your thoughts for you…”) Throw out the cliches « CITIZEN.BLOGGER.1984+ GUNNY.G BLOG.EMAIL

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