My liberal ex is no less patriotic for being left-leaning — and was thus delighted to hear about my parents’ decades-long practice of raising an American flag in the morning and taking it down at sunset (I learned some of the rules of proper flag-handling myself during my stint in the Boy Scouts — including the fact that burning is actually the traditional method of disposal, though to some people that probably sounds even worse than the Obama campaign’s purported dumping of some in garbage cans).
And in the interests of national harmony, I’m largely going to refrain from commenting on liberal-vs.-conservative conflict after today (the seventh anniversary of 9/11/01) until November, believe it or not — though I’ll just note before the ceasefire that the feelings stirred by the flag are a reminder why I think something akin to conservative sentiments (traditionalism, ceremony) must likely be part of any sustainable political order, not merely the high-faluting abstractions of liberalism, so susceptible to manipulation by self-interested intellectual elites.
But what about the Olympics, with all its nationalistic displays and country-based teams, do I like them? Not really — a bit too ostentatiously nationalistic for my tastes (and I don’t like sports, which tends to teach people that life must be a contest between winning and losing collectives instead of mutually-beneficial cooperation among individuals).
And in any case, this article suggests the athletes themselves aren’t just thinking about America — but about sex (and replicating some familiar, non-egalitarian patterns in the process, as predicted by evolutionary psychology: the men will mate with most anyone available, while all the women flock to the male gold medal winners, effectively becoming harems to the…alpha-letes, if you will).
Speaking of transcending the right-left divide, Ron Paul announced yesterday that he will not endorse his party’s candidate John McCain (despite what sound like half-hearted efforts by Phil Gramm, who I like, to convince Paul to do so), nor his main opposition, Obama — but instead urges Americans to vote for one of the minor-party candidates, three of whom (including Nader) can be seen onstage with him in this NPR article about the event. A peeved Bob Barr, the Libertarian Party candidate (and ex-Republican) who attended one of our Debates at Lolita Bar a few months ago, skipped the Paul event (though he was one of the four signers of Paul’s pledge to reduce the federal debt if elected and take other Paulian steps). Barr is quoted at the end of the NPR piece explaining why he feels, understandably, that Paul should simply have endorsed his fellow libertarian, Barr.
And that’s not just selfishness talking, if you ask me — it’s a reminder that “bucking the two-party system,” which is all well and good, is not the same as promoting liberty (I’d prefer either of the two major-party candidates to Nader for that reason, for example).
The National Journal was as snide as possible about Barr’s attempt later in the day to get firmer support from Paul, by asking him to become the Libertarian Party v.p. candidate — but even if you view that as a selfish stunt by Barr, I think there is a certain selfless zeal in the existing v.p. candidate’s willingness to step aside. Call it an irrelevant gesture if you like, but then, you can hardly call minor candidates’ efforts self-aggrandizing power grabs in one breath…and then say in the next breath that they’re giving nothing up by bowing out, right?
Anyway, I’m still voting for Barr regardless of what Ron Paul plans to do with his newfound spare time and regardless of who Barr’s v.p. candidate is. At least it’s not Joe Biden.
It is an apt time for minor-party rebellion, though: a prominent dissident Republican in the news, then a prominent former Republican, and now this array of minor-party folk appearing together despite real ideological differences deeper than the two major parties’ — plus a public more conscious than ever before of the danger of the two-party establishment co-opting their vague longing for change.
And I pick Barr. This does not preclude me preferring McCain to Obama — and even more so, Palin to Biden — but I can have a preference in that fight without having to vote for either side in it. So I won’t.
Whether McCain or Obama wins in November, next year seems like it’ll be a great time for talking more frankly and carefully about the difference between real change and change that’s strictly for show purposes, with both major-party candidates having raised certain expectations in that area. The real-vs.-phony dichotomy might prove a much more powerful and educational framework than the right-vs.-left one.