Friday, June 27, 2003

For example: I understand and share many progressives' dislike of handguns; I can see the harm that they do, especially in poor communities, and my gut instinct is to do something to help. But gun control strikes me as a glib, superficial solution--at best, it only addresses the symptom and not the disease, and at worst, it could promote black markets and other unindended consequences that exacerbate the very problem it was trying to address--and that's not even mentioning the Constitutional and civil-liberties arguments, which are not without merit, nor the research indicating that concealed-carry laws have been associated with reduced crime rates in some states, which I'm provisionally willing to accept. What's more, it's a huge political hot button among a large fraction of voters, and I can't see any reason why I'd pick a fight that size unless I were very, very sure I was right. I like handgun control activists, and dislike Charlton Heston's NRA; I think the former are motivated by a genuine desire to make the world a better place, and the latter mostly by selfishness, hostility, or paranoia. But liking and disliking isn't the same thing as agreeing and disagreeing. I'd rather address the root causes of poverty and crime and leave gun control off the table.

For example: I can see that the WTO and NAFTA are anti-environmental and anti-labor nightmares that undermine the sovereignty of national citizens in favor of international corporations, but I can also see real economic benefits to enhanced trade, and an already-stressed economy that would no doubt be hurt worse by major upheavals in the way business is done, so I don't want us to abolish those treaties overnight; I'd rather see us renegotiate them with an eye toward fairness.

For example: I recognize that single-payer is the fairest way to approach universal health care; I also recognize that it hasn't got a chance, for political reasons that are not all bad. When every hospital and clinic in America is taking money directly from the federal government, what's to stop the next republican president from applying the global gag rule to every single one of them? When it comes to politics, Occam's Razor is wrong; the simplest answer should automatically be suspect.

Ding ding ding, I just agreed with Howard Dean, straight down the board.

I like Howard Dean because I sense in him a kindred political spirit. I don't think the guy's a phony. I don't think he takes centrist positions to pander to the right at the expense of the left, or to fuzz the distinction between the two parties (in a misguided effort to do for the democrats what New Coke was supposed to do for Coke), or to get big corporate campaign donations, or even because he's afraid of being smeared as a "liberal" and losing the next election. I think he takes them, when he does, because there really are times when centrist--or even conservative!--policies are actually a better practical way to achieve liberal goals than the standard-issue liberal policies would have been.

I really, really like that about him.

I don't agree with him on every single issue; for example, he says he'd rather not legalize medical marijuana at this time (though he would support a real FDA study), which I can understand, since he's a doctor--but it suggests he's probably not eager to legalize recreational marijuana either, and that's a pity. (On the other hand, in today's political environment, where are we going to find someone who does want to legalize pot who can get elected?) And there are issues that are very important to me--such as the DMCA and the Public Domain Protection Act--that I don't know his positions on yet.

But close enough. I agree with Dean's positions on foreign policy, fiscal policy, civil liberties, reproductive rights, gay rights (well, gay marriage would be even better than civil unions, but let's be practical), affirmative action, energy policy, environmental protection, education, and I wish he were more firmly against the death penalty but I'll take what I can get.

I'm satisfied. He's a really good candidate. I want him nominated, and I want him to be president.

Oh, and have you heard the good news about Jesus and/or Amway?

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