About

I'm Mike Pope. I live in the Seattle area. I've been a technical writer and editor for over 30 years. I'm interested in software, language, music, movies, books, motorcycles, travel, and ... well, lots of stuff.

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We have accepted that the only way to stop the terrorists is to let the government become just a little bit like the terrorists.

Keith Olbermann



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Blog Statistics

Dates
First entry - 6/27/2003
Most recent entry - 12/14/2018

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Posts - 2538
Comments - 2589
Hits - 2,103,042

Averages
Entries/day - 0.45
Comments/entry - 1.02
Hits/day - 372

Updated every 30 minutes. Last: 10:38 PM Pacific


  11:30 PM

I can't help but think that there are a number of candidates tonight who are cursing the two-party system that seems entrenched in our political system. Here in Washington, our senate race was enlivened a bit by the plucky Libertarian candidate Bruce Guthrie. Guthrie essentially bought his way into the senatorial debate, whose entry criteria were heavily weighted toward the big parties. About those criteria, he had this press-release-y thing to say on his blog:
Two others, Green Party candidate Aaron Dixon and Independent Robin Adair, are not expected to meet the criteria. Nevertheless, Guthrie believes they should also be included in the debates. “Our Democracy can only be strengthened by having a diversity of ideas in the political arena,” he states. “The voters would be better served by open and inclusive debates, not publicity events limited to those with access to money.”
But perhaps more so than in other elections, even big-party candidates might have some reason to rue the party machines. A number of Republican candidates were defeated, and if the media are to be believed, the overwhelming issue that dogged those candidates was their party's identification with Iraq. For many voters it seems to have been reduced to a simple calculus of Iraq=bad, party in power=responsible, alternative candidate preferred. Various scandals have not helped of course, and thus it is that some Republican candidates are paying for the perceived sins of the party as a whole.

It can even be said that the discipline of the Republican Congress has contributed to its undoing. The Republican majority in both houses has been remarkably united in passing bills, with little crossing of party lines (that is, from Republican to Democrat) on prominent legislation. A number of people I know voted Democratic not because they were particularly enamored of their candidate, but because they were desperate to crack this united Republican front. (One guy I know said about his Democratic vote "I held my nose. Literally.") More so than I remember in the past -- perhaps the Nader or Perot vote-splitting losses are still fresh in voters' memories -- people seemed to be voting party more than candidate.

I spent some time reading the voter's pamphlet this week, and the variety of statements suggested a rich palette of views. When I listened to the senatorial "debate" (one must use the term loosely), I was bemused that Guthrie, the Libertarian candidate, made far and away the most sense, partly because his "answers" to questions did not consist entirely of platitudes.

I think that many people feel that neither of the two parties accurately represents their views. But this election especially has erased any ideological subtlety or any tentative steps toward party diversity. Bruce Guthrie and other third (and fourth and fifth) party candidates should have plenty of reasons to despair of the current system. In Washington, the Republican candidate Mike McGavick, a newcomer to national politics, ran a carefully crafted campaign that attempted to position him as an outsider -- and therefore implicitly not responsible for anything those people had done in the other Washington -- while still leveraging his affiliation with the party.

In the end, the campaign was not successful. Many voters were not inclined to examine the views and virtues of individual Republican candidates. On important matters, the party whip has not brooked much ideological dissent among Republican congresspersons, and by extension, dissent from the Bush administration. And so for many voters, the national election came down essentially to a single issue: which of (only) two parties should control congress?

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