| An interesting talk by Carville and Matilin|
|19 Feb 2004 @ 11:18, by Craig Lang|
My wife and I attend the Star/Tribune Womens' Lecture series, a series of talks on contemporary affairs by extraordinary women (and in this case, couple). Last night's talk was by Mary Matilin and James Carville, the political odd couple who provide so much color to the US political landscape. Mary Matilin is a wheel in the conservative political scene, while her hubby, James Carville, is a powerful activist in the progressive world. Both had some very interesting - and I thought very insightful views. Regardless of your views, they each had some very deep truths for everyone.
Mary Matilin had the podium first. She had the predictable praise for Bush [which required me to hold my political nose at a few points...], but also she had some interesting points for progressives. One was that prior to our intervention in Afghanistan, there were tremendous human rights problems there. Anyone who happenned to be female was forbidden to attend school or participate in civic affairs - or to do much of anything outside of the home. Since the US intervention, at least that has improved.
She cited this as an example of how the US is a force for freedom in the world. She presented the viewpoint that I hear from so many conservatives - that it is the duty and role of the USA to export democracy [CL Note: along with conservative Christianity and Coca Cola] to the world.
She also had some interesting things to say about the upcoming election. She predicted that Bush would win [surprise, surprise]. But she also indicated that the election might be Kerry's [whom she presumed woudl be the Dem nominee] to win or lose. She said that what Kerry needs - as does the progressive movement in general [CL Note: progressive is my word, not her's] - is a clear, coherent vision. It is not sufficient to simply oppose Bush. What is needed is a clear, well-defined, coherent agenda - a progressive view of where the USA should be headed, as well as why and how.
And in this, I think she is probably correct. Among progressives, there is alot of unity in opposition to Bush, but there is also alot of division. A coherent, well-defined vision is needed, or Bush will be president with four more years of reactionary US behavior in the world.
Many who consider themselves to be progressives want change - oftentimes, any change will do. She stated that one reason Bush won was that his campaign offered change. Bush offers [or at least his handlers do] a very coherent, well defined vision. It is a coherent, fundamental shift in the policy of the USA. And thus, to many who would have otherwise voted democrat, this is attractive. In order to beat Bush in 11/04, it will be necessary to offer a better defined, more coherent vision - to clearly define the path which progressives want the USA to travel.
James Carville then took the podium and had some more very interesting things to say, both to progressives and conservatives alike. His biggest comment was that perhaps more than any time previously in our history, the US populace is deeply divided. There is a very deep, fundamental split in the political landscape between conservative and progressive views. And in this election, some very fundamental questions will be on the table - questions about the very future of the USA.
He dramatized this by asking for a show of hands in the audience - who here was undecided about how they would vote in Novenber. In the hall full of several thousand people, essentially no one raised their hand. Carville pointed out that this was apparently the case nationwide. There appear to be very few undecided voters, and the population is very evenly devided - nearly 50/50. So it comes down to a few percent of the voters, in a few key states, who will end up deciding the future of the USA for a long time to come.
He predicted that this election would be a truly pivotal one in US history, and that all eyes of the world would be upon us. The voter turnout will be heavy - and at present, he felt that the election could go either way.
Neither said anything about the allegations of electoral hijinx, or other possible scandals that are now surfacing. But I thought that the "eyes of the world" comment was an excellent, though veiled, allusion in that direction. Both speakers pretty much kept away from specific issues, stressing more the fundamental philosophies and the importance of the questions being asked, rather than stressing their opposing answers.
So in the end, I think the core message from both was that the USA is deeply divided. There are two deeply-ingrained and diametrically opposed world-views entrenched in the American political landscape. One view is that it is the right and duty of the USA to export freedom, democracy, free enterprise, and other aspects of "our way of life" to the world [CL Note: even if at the point of a gun]. The other view is that the USA has the right and duty to be a good citizen of the world - to seek world peace and to work WITH the world to help address the problems that give rise to war, poverty, environmental degradation, etc.
Not since the sixties has the US public been so divided on the core issues - and it appears that the polarity is only deepening. This election will indeed be interesting.
19 Feb 2004 @ 15:01 by jmarc : boy, I'd like to be a fly on the wall
in that house, huh craig? I wonder if they bring their work home with them,or if they have rules against that. I find the ragin' cajun to be quite a dvisive figure himself, but then i'm not at all undecided, like the audience, apparently. He is quite a colorfull guy though, i'll give him that. I agree with Mary that it's kerry's to loose too. There really doesn't seem to be much of a coherant vision on the part of the democratic party besides hate bush and planting the seeds of doubt on the electoral proccess. Having suffered through 8 years of clinton as a conservative / libertarian though, i can honestly say that whoever wins, we will all survive. Well, at least that's my hope. Some one once said that a good sign of political maturity is knowing that if your guy(or gal) wins, things still aren't going to be sunshine and roses, and if they loose, the world will keep on turning. So i wave to you over on the other side of the aisle and yell, hey AMERICAN! Good luck in november!
19 Feb 2004 @ 15:13 by : Confidentiality and Domestic Bliss.. :-)
They did discuss how they deal with their political differences while at home - which was to say that they focus on their points of agreement, and avoid the actual details of their opposition. The stressed that primarily that was that what is most important to them is to maintain the integrity of the political process.
It was interesting that, although they tended to have very different views in many areas, they agreed on some important things about the need for structural change in the political process. This included things like the difficulties with the electoral college.
Also, as a rule, they said that since they often have opposing clients, they strictly agree not to talk about details of work. I imagine that its a similar rule to those regarding psychologists, etc.
19 Feb 2004 @ 15:15 by jmarc : for some reason i picture scenes
at their house where one goes to the bathroom for a shower, and the other goes rifling through the others briefcase. sort of a comical spy VS. spy thing.
Nothing like building up some domestic karma... :-)
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