Politics

'We Need More People in Politics Who Are Divisive'

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Although I've admired his criticism of the DARE program and other aspects of U.S. drug policy, I probably do not agree with much else that Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson has to say. But as a left-liberal Democrat surrounded by a sea of conservative Republicans, he has a perspective with which libertarians (or conservatives in Manhattan) can empathize:

"There's a real resistance to change and an almost pathological devotion to leaders simply because they're leaders," he said, in describing fellow Utahans who do not share his views and who in large numbers support the president (and gave him 72 percent of their vote in 2004). "There's a dangerous culture of obedience throughout much of this country that's worse in Utah than anywhere."…

"If you take a principled point of view and people fall down on one side or the other, you can either be characterized as being principled or being tough," he said. "Or you can be dismissed as being divisive, and I think if that's the definition of divisive, we need more people in politics who are divisive."

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  1. One mans principles is another pile of steaming hot crap after all.

    The whole freedom concept goes out the window when you allow a group to dictate their moral version of freedom on the whole population.

    What is so hard to understand about the fact that most people don’t care what your doing in your home to yourself or with others of like minds and as such we just ask for the same in return.

  2. What I liked best about the article was the “mass-transit advocates” blocking a highway.

    Their mission should be to get people from A to B faster. Instead it’s about jamming people onto one politically-correct form of transit.

    I do appreciate the role of upstream wetlands in preventing floods downstream, and of coastal fens. But I’ve been to the bog around Salt Lake. Hellllooo!?! It is a Salt Lake. It stinks and there is nothing of value to be had in keeping it undrained.

    Andersen represents a faction of Salt Lakers who barely consider themselves citizens of their own state. He spent his career “sticking it to the Mormons”. This would be fine if he was a blogger or a mayor of some rival mountain town like, oh, Boise. But what he did was to betray his own city repeatedly.

    Good riddance to bad rubbish.

  3. He was pretty good at reducing a rally of thousands to hundreds on 17 March 2007 at the Pentagon.

  4. I’ll accept a dollar coin when they stop minting pennies.

  5. Hey, I’ve got it! Extremism in the defence of liberty is no vice. Moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue. Pretty cool, huh?

    All seriousness aside, as Dan alluded to, this is a common theme in politics. Their side is a bunch of lockstep, bought & sold drones, while me got principle. It’s just what someone says in Anderson’s position. That said, yeah sure, I’d rather have someone be “divisive” in the pursuit of what I think is right and best if that means standing up for rather than just cave in, for whatever reason. Still, it’s just rhetoric. Anderson probably thinks it helps him among his current constituency. If he ran for state-wide office, who wants to take bets he’d “soften” some of his stands, and his rhetoric. Back to divisiveness, there seems to be a vague meme out there that some politicians (or factions) are divisive in a sense gratuitously, being shrill or uncompromising or whatnot. But like I say, it seems pretty vague. I think it’s just a meaningless catchterm that politicians use to signal that they’re good and the other side is bad, while in reality most anyone would prefer their own reps to be “divisive” by sticking up for what they want rather than being soft or compromising more than they need to. Heh, I guess it’s the other side we’d like to not be “divisive”!! As long as everyone gave in to what I want, there’d be no conflict!!!

  6. Warren – that’s the second wrong post today! Man, you out drinkin’ with Tony L until all hours yesterday, or what?

    Fyodor! you da man!

    Except you lose points for using the word “meme”.

    I’ll go with Grylliade’s punishment for “shenanigans” whenever one uses “meme”. dammit.

  7. It is quite likely that if people just had the decency to do what Hizzoner preferred, ol’ Rocky wouldn’t see nearly as much problem with excessive obediance. There is some slightly amusing irony in a strong statist decrying conformity.

  8. fydor makes some good points but I can’t agree that there is no difference between leaders who actually attempt to be divisive by emphasizing people’s differences and leaders who attempt to be uniters by emphasizing people’s commonality.

  9. And Mitt Romney’s foes are making hay out of this profile by digging up a campaign ad Romney cut for Rocky.

    http://hotlineblog.nationaljournal.com/archives/2007/03/youtube_wars_ro_1.html

  10. Gee, he looks kind of upset in the picture. Last time I saw someone that angry, they bent a small lightpost with their fist. I think Salt Lake should put extra cops watching their lamp posts.

  11. fydor makes some good points but I can’t agree that there is no difference between leaders who actually attempt to be divisive by emphasizing people’s differences and leaders who attempt to be uniters by emphasizing people’s commonality.

    Sounds all nice and fluffy. Can you give real world examples of the two? But it doesn’t count if the politician you agree with on the issues is the commonality pusher while the divisive one is the one already on the opposite side of the fence from you. Find a politician you agree with who you consider divisive and one whom you don’t who’s a, heh, uniter, and then I might think there’s possibly something to it. Until then, I still say it’s empty rhetoric whoever’s saying it and however they’re playing it.

    VM,

    Well, I used “meme” derogatorily, do I get half a point back?

  12. Fyodor:

    certainly, my friend. And not only that, I’ll beat Mr. Crane with the Noam Chomsky Blow up doll instead.

    (or I’ll beat the shit out of him *with* Charles!)

  13. I’ll beat Mr. Crane with the Noam Chomsky Blow up doll instead.

    WOTTA WAY TO GO!

  14. Gee, he looks kind of upset in the picture. Last time I saw someone that angry, they bent a small lightpost with their fist. I think Salt Lake should put extra cops watching their lamp posts.

    During his nearly eight years as SLC mayor, Rocky has gone through seven — that’s right, seven — personal assistants/chiefs of staff in his administration. One even tried to sue him after she was fired. All agreed that he is impossible to work with.

    The man has an explosive temper.

  15. All divisiveness is not created equal. There’s devisiveness on principle – I think we’ll be safer if DHS employees don’t have collective bargaining, and the Democrats have their priorities wrong – and divisiveness in the pursuit of wedge politics – I think we’ll be safer if DHS employees don’t have collective bargaining, and the Democrats don’t care about keeping terrorists from killing Americans.

    Does anyone want to argue that any good has come out of the Republicans’ committed efforts to promote divisiveness over war and security issues in the runup to the Iraq War?

  16. VM,
    Not drinking, just too got too many tabs open.

  17. Warren – hokae. 🙂

    Fyodor: you bet!

  18. However, divisiveness in the pursuit of carbon quotas is clearly fair game.

  19. David Ross,

    Why would a mayor of Boise “stick it to the mormons?” As a percentage of the population, there are more Mormons here than in Salt Lake.

  20. Editor, please remove the post from the troll posting under my name and email address.

  21. what?

    ain’t nobody hitting me with the noam chomsky doll. i realize there’s a susan sontag blow-up doll fight on page 169 of the leather bound “heather has two mommies” but that’s a different matter entirely.

  22. He’s like Ed Anger: he’s pig-bitin’ mad!

  23. However, divisiveness in the pursuit of carbon quotas is clearly fair game.

    Was that intentional irony are unintentional?

    Does anyone want to argue that any good has come out of the Republicans’ committed efforts to promote divisiveness over war and security issues in the runup to the Iraq War?

    Your one real world example doesn’t fit my criteria since you disagreed with the policy goal in question. Since I didn’t agree with it either, there’s not much I can say about it other than that for supporters of the war, Bush’s tactics probably seemed perfectly justified.

    In your hypothetical example, you seem to frame it as a matter of rhetoric that acknowleges the integrity of the opponent (as opposed to, say, calling Lumborg dishonest? he-he!). On one hand, I’d say that’s a noble goal we should all strive for. I like to think I (usually!) do myself. On the other, I’m skeptical enough to think that even people who would be more inclined to vote for candidates who wrapped themselves in warm and fuzzy sheep’s skin by calling themselves uniters or decrying divisiveness would still prefer that same politician become a wolf and insult the other side if that’s what it takes to get their way!

  24. mmm. Marv Albert, porcine style mmm.

    hey Crane – it’s okay. we grease it up with Formula 409!

  25. fyodor,

    I didn’t write that.

    I suspect it’s some coward still smarting over having his ass handed to him on some previous threat.

    Hi, rob!

  26. fyodor,

    I didn’t write that.

    Wow. Unethical as it was, I have to admit that was some damn good trolling! 😉 I did kinda wonder about it, as I hope my response reflects!

  27. Editor, please remove the post from the troll posting under my name and email address.

    I wish I had had the common sense to handle it that way. Good luck, anyway.

  28. “In your hypothetical example, you seem to frame it as a matter of rhetoric that acknowleges the integrity of the opponent (as opposed to, say, calling Lumborg dishonest? he-he!).”

    No, it implies the integrity of their position, and that accurately portrays that position. You don’t have to believe or speak as if your opponents are honorable people – for example, calling out Democrats for kowtowing to unions is hardly complimentary – but you need to explain why your position is superior to your opponents’ actual position, not some insulting straw man you dreamed up to assign to them.

    How about, does anybody think that the country was well-served by ANSWER’s chants of “racist war” and “no blood for oil?”

  29. BTW, joe, I should make clear, in order to keep this can of beans as closed as possible, that I really couldn’t care less what you said about Lumborg. That is, I didn’t mind, you can call him dishonest all you want, no skin of my nose OR my nuts. I prefer to focus on what the issue is rather than what someone thinks of some particular opponent. OTOH, your description of Lumborg did purple some nurples, perhaps unnecessarily? Even if you think it’s somehow impossible Lumborg may have merely read that report differently than you did, was it necessary or helpful to put it that way? Well anyway, that was your choice and I didn’t care one way or another myself. Just think it does do a little to back up my point that divisiveness is primarily in the eye of the beholder, where it generally resides on the other side of the philosophical fence.

  30. How about, does anybody think that the country was well-served by ANSWER’s chants of “racist war” and “no blood for oil?”

    Better, but much better yet would be a Democratic politican. Democrats are generally as embarrassed by the far left as Republicans are by the KKK.

    Anyway, I note the difference in rhetorical style you are describing and I agree that it’s more noble to argue with one’s opponent honestly and with integrity. Again, I doubt even people who nod their heads as reading that would be willing to lose out on their preferred policy goals if that were the result of being noble.

  31. on page 169 of the leather bound “heather has two mommies”

    Hehe, you said “leather” “bound”. heheh.

  32. How about, does anybody think that the country was well-served by ANSWER’s chants of “racist war” and “no blood for oil?”

    Yes. I think that a lot of people supported the Iraq War for racist reasons. I think the real reason for the Iraq War was oil. I think it was fair and helpful to point that out at the time. I think it is fair and helpful now.

    I think what is unhelpful is the idea that people who said these things are considered as irresponsible or unbalanced or somehow akin to the KKK. They are not. I don’t know about chanting, and I have no idea what ANSWER is, but the John Kerry / Hillary Clinton approach to The Iraq War was and is bad and some people still seem to be caught up in it. I see it as a bad form of partisanship.

  33. Yeah, yeah, I know, fyodor. It didn’t advance the debate when I shared my feeling abour Lomborg.

    And not only does more principled debate about ideas allow those who ultimately end up in the minority to consider the result more legitimate, but it is also more likely to produce a better result than either side’s opening bid.

    Bush didn’t want to achieve a better policy than his PNAC-style war, and he didn’t want the minority to come to support it. He wanted to ram his opening bid down their throats, and get them to strike an equally uncompromising position, because, boy, weren’t the Demcrats and French and UN going to look stupid when the war was a great success!

  34. Dave W.,

    “I think that a lot of people supported the Iraq War for racist reasons. I think the real reason for the Iraq War was oil.”

    Fair, maybe, but helpful, not one bit.

    I agree that these concerns drove the thinking of many war supporters, but it drove them to advance a set of arguments that should have been argued on their merits. People didn’t support invading Iraq because they wanted to kill Arabs or steal oil, even if a racialized response to 9/11 and an oil-driven concern for American hegemony in the Middle East led them to support the “pre-emption” and “liberation” arguments for the war.

  35. This country would be a lot less divisive if people realized it’s not “divisive” to be different.

    For instance, gays and straights are different, as are gun owners and non gun owners. It doesn’t get divisive until one side starts writing laws against the other.

  36. i realize there’s a susan sontag blow-up doll fight on page 169 of the leather bound “heather has two mommies”…

    Annie Leibovitz did not take that picture.

  37. People didn’t support invading Iraq because they wanted to kill Arabs …

    Are you sure about that?

    I heard many people talking about killing Muslims as revenge for 9/11 and what they did to US. Many desires to “turn the Middle East into a parking lot”. Were those not some kind of racist comments?

    I think a lot of people didn’t critically think about whether or not support the war because they wanted to kill them some “ragheads” to get even.

  38. ChicagoTom,

    I think the key point is to address the arguments made by either the people in power advancing the opposed agenda or the person with whom you are directly debating. I don’t think there’s a position any of us takes that’s not shared by loonies somewhere whose agreement would embarrass us. Bringing up those loonies as a form of argument is what’s not helpful. If the loonies are numerous enough, bringing them up as part of an observation of what drives support for a particular position is valid enough. What it’s not valid for is addressing the arguments being put forth by those in your opposition who have nothing to do with those loonies. By definition, however significant a portion of the opposition’s coalition the loonies may be, they’re likely not the most important faction.

  39. I agree that these concerns drove the thinking of many war supporters, but it drove them to advance a set of arguments that should have been argued on their merits.

    To more fully explain:

    1. I thing George Bush and Dick Cheney supported the Iraq War for oil reasons.

    2. As far as other people go, I don’t think they threw their support behind Bush and Cheney’s plans for oil reasons.

    3. If more people understood that Bush told security related lies about Iraq for oil reasons, then he might not have been re-elected, which I see as a preferable outcome to what happened. That is why I think it is helpful for people to understand the oil aspect of the war, even if it was not central to their own individual thinking in 2002 and 2003. I also think it would be helpful if the media reported on exactly where that oil profit is going now. And by reported, I mean reported like WaPo on Watergate, rather than like WaPo on The Iraq War. If a portion of that oil profit is going to companies that sell product in the US, then I have some ideas related to taxation, which you can probably guess.

  40. Chicogo Tom,

    I don’t think I’m being clear. I am quite aware of those sentiments. My point is that that mindset didn’t lead people to support the Iraq War just for the joy of seeing Muslims killed. It was more like, that mindset made them more credulous and enthusiastic about believing the WMD/counter-terror/liberationist justifications for the war.

  41. My point is that that mindset didn’t lead people to support the Iraq War just for the joy of seeing Muslims killed.

    And that is the point I don’t agree with. A lot of these people really didn’t care if the WMD claims were true or not. They believed that we were attacked by Muslims and we need to go kick some ass and take some names to teach them a lesson: Don’t fuck with the USA.

    Do you really think that people who were hating the Muslims post 9/11 really gave a damn about their “liberation” ? Or that they would have felt differently if they knew there were no WMDs or if the WMD claims were never maid?

    Now I will admit, that arguing against the war by accusing the supporters of racism may not be a very effective way. But I don’t think that an anti-muslim bias post 9/11 was relegated to some kind of fringe of the supporters either. I mean to this day we see many towns that don’t want a Mosque near them because they believe that it will become a hotbed for terrorism.

  42. I don’t think I’m being clear. I am quite aware of those sentiments. My point is that that mindset didn’t lead people to support the Iraq War just for the joy of seeing Muslims killed. It was more like, that mindset made them more credulous and enthusiastic about believing the WMD/counter-terror/liberationist justifications for the war.

    Upon reflection, I kind of see your point about accusations of racism being counterproductive, even if they are true in a sense. It makes people defensive.

    I still think the oil thing is a point worth making. I know the popular counter-explanations are that Bush did what he did for political popularity reasons (I have seen you make that argument) or out of neo-conservative ideology. I don’t buy either of those counter-explanations, though.

  43. Now I will admit, that arguing against the war by accusing the supporters of racism may not be a very effective way.

    Quite the understatement there. Tom, if someone really wants to go to war to kill people, that is even if you’re absolutely right about this, how is arguing that that is the case going to change their mind? Actually I’d say they’re quite right: going to war is actually a damned fine way to kill people! There’s obviously no arguing with such people except maybe to plead with them not to be so blood thirsty. But no matter, I’ve never seen anyone give that reason for invading Iraq. So either they’re lying or you know their minds better than they do. If it’s the latter, good luck convincing them, if the former, what is there for you to do but grouse about them to others? They’ve obviously made up their mind to kill people. Luckily the large numbers of people who have changed their minds about the war based on its lack of smooth transition to democracy obviously did not feel this way. Unless they’ve changed their mind because the war didn’t kill ENOUGH Iraqis??

    As for, “to this day we see many towns that don’t want a Mosque near them because they believe that it will become a hotbed for terrorism,” I disaree with such people on several counts, but such a stance hardly proves they wanted to invade Iraq out of bloodlust. Fearing a hotbed of terrorism in one’s town, however misguided, is very different from wanting to kill people for the mere sake of doing so.

  44. Fyodor, Tom:

    approval of torture dovetails in this thesis, as well.

  45. There are few things that irritate me more than people who fret about “divisiveness” in American politics. Ok, bicyclists who ride on the sidewalk and try to run me over irritate me. And the Dutch.

    But really, I prefer a spirited debate that strikes below the belt. It’s the way we humans are wired, and probably the best way to get to the core of the issue involved. And it’s fun to watch.

  46. Tom, if someone really wants to go to war to kill people, that is even if you’re absolutely right about this, how is arguing that that is the case going to change their mind?

    I don’t know that it will. I don’t know too many racists, in any context, that can be rationally talked out of their racism, do you?

    But it may sway those who are on the fence or those who are supporting the war for other reasons — in a “do you really want to cast your lot with these people” kind of way. I won’t pretend this is effective in and of itself, but as a part of a broader set of points against, it might help.

    I’ve never seen anyone give that reason for invading Iraq.

    You’ve never heard people making the claims that “those fuckers should be bombed back to the stone ages” or “we should flatten the middle east and put up a disney world” type comments?? I had heard these types of comments in support of going to Iraq — mostly before the war started — usually via call ins to shock jocks on morning radio (Stern, Mancow, etc). I’ve also heard those sentiments by people I know personally (usually “America:Love it or leave it” kind of guys) — I just don’t think that sentiment is/was so rare.

    Luckily the large numbers of people who have changed their minds about the war based on its lack of smooth transition to democracy obviously did not feel this way. Unless they’ve changed their mind because the war didn’t kill ENOUGH Iraqis??

    Personally, I think a lot of people have changed their minds, not because we haven’t killed enough, but because we have lost too many American lives. Because it’s been going on for too long, and because “success” hasn’t been well defined (or at the very least its definition has changed in a way that no one can pin it down) and we aren’t seeing “success” and our military seems bogged down in the middle of a foreign civil war.

    I don’t believe that many of the war supporters suddenly became critical thinkers or more rational about how we got involved. The appearance of not winning has a way of turning the tide against something quite easily. No one wants to be supporting failure — so sentiment changes. But have the people who have flipped really learned anything?? In my opinions, no.

    Even among liberal hawks that have turned on the war, they aren’t saying that it was a bad idea to go in (which would admit a failure of their judgement)…they say it was managed poorly and that this admin. has run the war incompetently and that it was a bad idea to go in with Bush at the helm. They still would have done it…they just would have done it “right”.

    but such a stance hardly proves they wanted to invade Iraq out of bloodlust. Fearing a hotbed of terrorism in one’s town, however misguided, is very different from wanting to kill people for the mere sake of doing so.

    I didn’t imply that people wanted to kill for the sake of killing. I feel you are mis-characterizing what I am saying. They wanted revenge for 9/11. That is quite different than killing for the sake of killing.

    It’s the mentality that Muslims = terrorists. That kind of mindset is why lots of people didn’t ask too many questions. (Like why Iraq, and not Saudi Arabia?) And I don’t feel it is really a stretch to believe that the type of person who believes a Mosque would be a magnet for terrorists would also be prone to believe that killing indiscriminately killing Muslims around the globe would be a good way to defend America from terrorists who hate us. Many Americans view them as savages who only understand violence.

  47. Mmmmmmm….maybe.

  48. “To more fully explain:

    1. I thing George Bush and Dick Cheney supported the Iraq War for oil reasons”

    Everybody making this argument KNEW that Bush and Cheney just wanted to invade Iraq to steal the oil so we could get all that cheap oil so that they could be richer.
    When that didn’t happen, everybody just KNEW that Bush and Cheney just wanted to invade Iraq to drive up the price of oil so that they could be richer.

    It’s perfect. No matter what happens, you’re right and you knew it all along.

  49. Also, everything since 9/11 has obviously been a racist war, as the ANSWER folks started chanting before we fired a single bullet in Afghanistan. Anybody who doesn’t have their head up their ass knows we’d be totally cool with white guys taking out the WTC, Pentagon, London subways/buses, not to mention white dictators whose activities threatened to make those people even more powerful. Hell, President Chimpy McHitler would probably give them a medal. Oh, and he hates black people too. Especially the ones he put on his cabinet. That’s why he made the state of Lousiana skimp on the construction and upkeep of their levees for the past 100 years, and made sure they’d elect a black mayor who would do things like let hundreds of buses owned by the city sit idle while people were in need of evacuation. Don’t you people see!!??? It’s all coming together now….

  50. When that didn’t happen

    Link?

  51. Oh, and by the way, there is nothing inconsistent about wanting your corporate friends to obtain cheap oil from Iraq, while at the same time wanting to drive up prices when oil is sold for consumption here in the US. Buying cheap and selling expensive is how you make money.

  52. No, how about you provide the link to where we “stole all the oil”. As in conquered them and took their oil without paying for it.
    And while wer’re at that game, you could also provide some photos of the pipeline Halliburton was supposed to be building which was the “real” reason we went into Afghanistan. Because that’s what we do. We steal all the oil. Which is why oil sheiks are so damned poor.

  53. No, how about you provide the link to where we “stole all the oil”. As in conquered them and took their oil without paying for it.

    So neither us us has real evidence as to who is profitting from that oil. I basically believe that if Iraq really had control of the oil, then they would nationalize the supply to pay war damages caused by the US military, and that the bidding would be more open and transparent than it has been. You apparently believe that fair market value is being paid for the oil by the same companies who would be buying the oil anyway, absent the Iraq War, because anything else would imply some guilt, and you apparently believe that the US litigation standard of innocent until proven guilty applies to oil multinationals and their colleagues in the US government.

    I am thinking that we probably won’t clear up this dispute until we have some actual evidence. Mr. Bailey just did an article on the oil industry. Then again, I see him as a biased source on these issues so I don’t plan to read his whitewash.

  54. Rocky is an embarrassment, one of the worst mistakes that we’ve ever made here in SLC.

    One backlash that I predict is that his replacement will be a Mormon. A lot of Saints voted for Rocky over his opponent, but even most non-Mormons will look for someone less obnoxious, and the most certain way to get that is to vote for a Mormon. If that person does a good job, the next 20 years may see only Mormons as mayor of SLC, which will be too bad.

    But it doesn’t matter to Rocky. All that counts is that he’s on TV.

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