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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Postmodern Politics

In the words of Taggart (Slim Pickens) from Blazing Saddles, "I am depressed." Perhaps it is blind optimism on my part. Maybe I just hoped that the country's fathers were wrong when they suggested that the average citizen wasn't intelligent enough to be trusted to vote on important matters. Or maybe it's not about intelligence at all. Maybe it's the times in which we live. But I had hoped for something better. I had hoped for some reasoning on the part of the voting public. I didn't get it.

It has been argued that we live in a "postmodern" world. What does that mean? Well, modernism placed a heavy emphasis on rationality and logic. Postmodernism questions whether that exists at all. Postmodernism rejects traditional structures and truth, opting instead for relativism and what is called "non-binary truth". "Binary truth" is the idea that something is either true or false. Postmodernism rejects that and prefers "true for you, but not for me" thinking. That semi-trailer hurdling toward you at 60 miles per hour doesn't have to be a threat if you don't believe it to be. Okay, that doesn't work, but you get the idea. Or not.

I don't know about the rest of the country, but Arizona cast its postmodern vote yesterday. I'm disappointed that many of the issues I cared about failed, but that's not the point here. I'm talking about ... insanity. In general, this can be seen when people are in favor of protecting trees but defend murdering babies. Here in Arizona it's just like that. Let me illustrate.

Arizonans voted to ban smoking and then passed a measure that would charge smokers to pay for early childhood education. They voted to protect cows and pigs, but not to protect marriage. That's not merely mistaken in my estimation; that's crazy. That's contradictory. That's ... postmodern voting.

We had two ballot measures to block smoking in public buildings. One, 201, would forbid it in all public places and included a 2 cent per pack tax on cigarettes (a projected $5 million a year) to pay for enforcement. The other, 206, would forbid it in all public places ... except for the bar in which the owner opted to allow it. No additional taxes were called for. Voters opted for 201, adding 2 cents to every pack of cigarettes (I guess cigar and pipe smokers aren't involved?) and blocking individual bar owners from allowing adults to smoke in their establishments. Okay. Fine. So be it. But we also had Proposition 203 on the ballot. This one wants to take control of our children from birth to 5 years old and mold them ... to the government's standard. They want to pay for this by charging smokers 80 cents per pack of cigarettes. (Doing the math, if 2 cents per pack was projected to raise $5 million for non-smoking enforcement, then this tax would raise $200 million a year to control our children.) Now, assuming that Arizonans have approved the concept -- take our children and teach them -- then they also are working against their own best interests by passing smoking bans. "We want you smokers to pay for this plan we have to take away children and have the government teach them, but we don't want you smokers to actually smoke anywhere, and we hope to diminish your smoking by boosting your cost by more than 20% per pack. So there!"

You may (or may not) recall that I spent some time discussing Proposition 107 here, here, and here. I didn't mention Proposition 204. Proposition 204 was aimed at making farm animals comfortable. They argued that some animals like pigs and cows were raised in cramped spaces and they should be allowed to be more comfortable. Well, Prop 204 passed, but Prop 107 lost by a margin of 48.5% for to 51.5% against. We need to protect farm animals, but marriage is of no importance.

I'm not stating that lightly. The outcome is deceptive, and I suspect it will come back later to bite us. Polls suggested that a proposition to ban homosexual marriage would have been approved by 75% of the voters. Arizonans didn't shoot down Prop 107 because they want to legalize homosexual marriage. None of the "No on Prop 107" arguments were predicated on "legalize homosexual marriage" or the like. No! The push against Prop 107 came from the second line in the proposition that said, in essence, "We do not have to recognize as married anyone who is not married." The proposition suggested that marriage has its privileges, and those who are unwilling to marry shouldn't expect those privileges. Arizona said, "No!" This was indeed a referendum on whether or not we should protect marriage. It wasn't merely protecting marriage against homosexual incursion; it was protecting marriage from those who have equated non-marriage with marriage. And marriage lost.

On the other hand, it's not that Arizona is consistently "pro-environment" or any such thing. They didn't vote to protect animals because they want to protect the environment. No! We had not one but two competing measures that would have preserved land. Proposition 105 would have saved about 400,000 acres from builders, and Proposition 106 would have saved about 700,000 acres. Both failed. So we need to protect cows and pigs, but the wilds and marriage ... they're on their own. Oh, and by the way, hand over your kids. Don't worry, the smokers we've just banned will pay for it.

Even in voting for offices Arizonans were schizophrenic. All the pundits have said that this was a referendum on President Bush -- that Americans were going to vote out Republicans. (They weren't intending to vote in Democrats; they just wanted to fire the existing party. You know, ABS.) So what did Arizona do? Well, they kept some of their Republicans and they fired some of their Republicans. They didn't even give a clear statement on that.

I anticipated the passage of Prop 204 protecting animals and the failure of Prop 107 protecting marriage. I had already written a post bemoaning that sad state of affairs. I deleted it. That was opinion. This is insanity. There is no rationale, no reason behind what many Arizona voters have decided to do. Too much of Arizona, like most of America I suspect, has passed into postmodern politics. There is no right or wrong, no reason, no logic. They voted with their hearts. "Save the piggies." "Save the children." "Keep those nasty smokers away." And unfortunately it appears that they left their heads in some dark closet somewhere.


Jim Jordan said...

Hi Stan
I too was most disappointed by the amendment votes but I don't think it's due as much to postmodernism than to lack of education. If most people read on a 4th Grade level (when they're paying attention!)then the referendums written on an 8th grade level will confuse them. America has been dumbing down for some time led by a failed public education system, you know the one they can't wait to get our children into.

It's not all ignorance, but I think that's what drives these incongruous voting habits. Look at Missouri's 51.5% vote for stem cell research. It was all over the media that the amendment made human cloning a constitutional right and that embryonic stem cell manipulation destroys an unborn child. Most people would have heard that, right? So why did a majority still vote for it? Is it post-modernism, or were they just confused over what stem cell research is even though they were told and what human cloning is even though they were told and what the meaning of the word "is" is as if they need to be told?

One could say that so-called "post-modernism" results from the frontal lobotomy conducted by our failed public schools and 9-second sound-byte media. Our schools fail to teach our children how to think on their own. Postmodernism is more aptly described aa a learning disorder, no?

Anyway, I thought I'd cheer you up with these witticisms.

Stan said...

I suspect your "lack of education" and my "postmodernism" are more closely linked than one might think at the outset. I suspect that we live in a generation that has been largely taught not to think. The Church is often anti-intellectual. Television is poured into our brains without evaluation. Logic is no longer a topic in school.

The problem ... if "I think, therefore I am" is accurate, then what am I to conclude about so many people who don't?