Monday, April 14, 2008


Unfortunately, they're a part of politics.

The "they" I am referring to are the cheap and low politicians who find it easier to fire personal attacks at each other rather than focus on critical issues that affect their constituents. Sadly, however, the mudslinging has now gone beyond its conventional cheapskate boundaries and has started to overtake those few who once stood as a living rejection to "business as usual" in Washington. I willingly admit that I mentally cringe each time I see Barack Obama's name in the news for anything but great judgement, leadership or vision. More and more often, it seems, I'm seeing his name next to classic journalistic verb phrases like: "fires back," or "lashes out," or "slings mud."

Of course, he's not alone. Back when the race for the White House was nearly 20 people strong, the candidates couldn't bathe fast enough to keep themselves mud-free. And of course, as they dipped themselves back down into the soapy water, they'd huck a few mudballs themselves. Remember how ugly the Republican race was between Romney and, well...everyone? Mitt was the target of a number of blows. But, let's not feel sorry for the guy. It is an irrefutable fact that he was the first one to run a negative ad campaign in the days and weeks preceding the Iowa caucuses.

The bottom line is this: we don't want to hear about it. To hell with your petty debacles over who did drugs in high school, or who believes in the Book of Mormon. Is this solving the immigration crisis? The inevitable recession? How about the Iraq disaster? No? Well then shut up and get to work and forget about the pointless banter that is only swelling the already growing disconnect between the American people and their elected officials.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

An Afternoon with a Flaming Liberal

Yesterday I had the opportunity to listen Markos Moulitsas speak at Utah State University. I know, I know. You're thinking, "Who the heck is Markos Moulitsas?" I found myself in a similar predicament until last week when I saw a poster advertising his coming. One simple Google search later I was moderately acquainted with one of the premiere names in political blogging.

Moulitsas is the author and creator of "Daily Kos," which is a blog that addresses politics and government from a liberal and more progressive standpoint. It receives several hundreds of thousands of hits a day, and has partnered up with prominent names in government, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and former President Jimmy Carter. Moulitsas started the blog in 2002 as an outlet for his frustrations with the Bush Administration and the Iraq War. He was one of the few people (along with Barack Obama and myself) who saw the war as a mistake from the beginning. He used the internet as an outlet, and since then has become a trailblazer in the ever-evolving blogging media.

I found the lecture very satisfactory, mostly because I was surrounded by people who share my obsession with politics (in varying degrees). What was even more rewarding is that these people were, for the most part, liberals and progressives, which meant that I wasn't scrutinized for my leftist comments and questions - a rarity for anyone who calls the Beehive State home. There were, of course, a few conservatives in the crowd, but their comments were fair and they were respectfully interested in what Mr. Moulitsas had to say. I like that. I encourage that. It's the people who are so far removed from reality and think that Bush isn't a failure of a president who upset me.

I learned a lot throughout the hour and a half of Q & A, including the fact that Moulitsas is convinced that the race for the Democratic nomination is over. He mentioned how Hillary Clinton had long lost the race, and that it was just a matter of her accepting that. I loved to hear him talk like that, because I've had mild heartburn for the last 12 months in worry that Hillary would get the Democratic nod. Now don't get me wrong - I like Hillary. She's a good politician and a powerful leader. She's led an impressive life and will undoubtedly have a bright future - I just like Obama more. He's everything that Hillary is, but isn't so polarizing, and thus able to bring more people together in a campaign for peace, stability and security. So, for me to hear Moulitsas - who obviously knows more than I do when it comes to the scene in Washington - say that it's over was very satisfying.

Of course, I'm reserving a small portion of my mind to play the skeptic and say that the race isn't over till it's over, but my hope in Obama's campaign just received a good shot in the arm, and those are always welcome. I'll hopefully be getting another on April 22 when Obama upsets Hillary in the Pennsylvania primary.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Young Voters and the Future of America

As I’ve obsessively followed this year’s presidential election, I’ve been surprised on a number of occasions. I was surprised when Mitt Romney, a man hailed for his faith and integrity, was the first Republican candidate to run a negative ad campaign in Iowa. I was surprised at how fast Rudy Guiliani’s front-runner status disintegrated. I was surprised (and pleasantly, I might add) that Barack Obama was able to win 11 contests in a row while simultaneously taking the delegate lead away from Hillary Clinton. But a statistic that has surprised and continues to surprise is the fact that young voters are picking themselves up by the bootstraps after being trodden upon by critics and cynics alike for the last 50+ years, and are making their voices heard by Washington and the rest of the country.

Examining our current national status, I think it’s safe to say that things are ugly. American politics are riddled with scandal, dishonesty and corruption. One would be lucky to turn the TV or radio on without learning of another elected official or Washington bigwig trapped in a web of their own lies. We’re mired in a foreign policy blunder that is sadly rivaling the Vietnam War, and the economy is crisis. To say that the political scene in America is bleak would be an understatement.

And yet, despite this obvious tribulation, there is something uncharacteristically comforting about the state of the union and its future: young people. Yes, young people; the hippies, the gas station employees, the struggling college students and the Fulbright scholars. They are the sliver of sunshine in an overcast political arena.

See, there are lots of us out there, and for the most part we're pretty opinionated. But for as far back as records of our demographic have been kept, we've been underrepresented and written off (justifiably so) by politicians and pundits. But no one can now deny that young voters aren't pulling their weight.

Some people think it's Obama's speeches, others think it's to make sure Hillary doesn't win. Who cares. I pat all of them on the back for dusting off their voting hat and throwing it back into the ring.