About Rationally Speaking
Rationally Speaking is a blog maintained by Prof. Massimo Pigliucci, a philosopher at the City University of New York. The blog reflects the Enlightenment figure Marquis de Condorcet's idea of what a public intellectual (yes, we know, that's such a bad word) ought to be: someone who devotes himself to "the tracking down of prejudices in the hiding places where priests, the schools, the government, and all long-established institutions had gathered and protected them." You're welcome. Please notice that the contents of this blog can be reprinted under the standard Creative Commons license.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Why I’m not endorsing anyone
The Democratic field is, for the first time in many years, truly impressive. Four years ago I was as unexcited about Kerry as the rest of the country, I just thought he wasn’t positively evil (unlike you-know-who), and therefore the best available choice. As for Gore, unfortunately he got exciting only when he left politics. Go figure.
But this time around even most of the so-called “minor” Democratic candidates would make for an excellent President, and I’m not just making a comparison with the exceedingly low standard set by Bush. Joe Biden is experienced and eminently sensible; Hillary Clinton is a tough cookie and a bit too moderate for my taste, but surely more “compassionate” than the current occupant of the White House; Chris Dodd would be a reasonable choice if the others weren’t so much better; John Edwards has guts and vision; Barack Obama would be a truly revolutionary President; and I’m surprised by how little traction Bill Richardson is having, considering his charm, expertise and reasonable policies. Kucinic is too much off the beaten track (besides, he believes in UFOs...), and I know next to nothing about Mike Gravel.
In other words, there simply are too many good choices to endorse anyone in particular, a refreshingly unusual situation for the Democratic party.
For the Republicans, though, the story is completely different. Giuliani is a fascist (just ask most New Yorkers about his tenure as a mayor here), though at least not a religiously motivated one; Huckabee doesn’t believe in evolution and shamelessly claims that his recent surge in the polls is the result of God’s direct intervention (why doesn’t God crown him king on the spot, then?); McCain insists that the war in Iraq was a good idea, although he has to be commended for his stance against torture; Ron Paul is a libertarian nut who would destroy most of our social net -- which is already in pretty bad shape thanks to decades of Republican-led erosion; Romney thinks it is a good idea to invoke Jesus as his personal consultant on matters of national policy while trying to convince voters that he is more Christian than the Christians; and Thompson’s so bland that it’s hard to comprehend how all the excitement about him was generated a few months back. Tancredo and Hunter are just non entities.
To put it bluntly, any Republican President from this field would range from a moderate disaster (orange alert) to a tragedy for the country and the rest of the world (infrared alert), so nobody to endorse there.
Of course, electability is a whole different matter, given how fickle the American electorate is, not to mention how easy it is to dupe Americans to vote for a perceived “strong man” or for a pious candidate. This country may not be ready for a black or a woman President, but if not now, when, really? Finally, could someone please tell me why so many people just hate Hillary?