Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Revel WITH A Cause

When I first started The JEP Report, I intended to write political humor. The problem is that for the most part, most people seem to think that politics are about as funny as testicular cancer and my early political diatribes went largely unread. This was not much of a surprise since, as a Republican, I would not expect to gain much of an audience from those members of the blogosphere that lean left of center. Those to the right of center however, seem to lack appreciation for a well written anecdote about a digestive tract gone horribly awry. So, I basically left the political rants aside and concentrated on what essentially resulted in me writing my memoirs. This proved far more successful and the change lead to a twenty-five fold increase in the numbers of The JEP Report’s regular readership. In real terms that meant that instead of two people tuning in every week, just under fifty were. Now, The JEP Report gets about 40 visits a day, still nothing in the world of the blogosphere, but enough to encourage me to keep writing.

Now The JEP Report stands on the verge of another overhaul. The fact is that I have a finite supply of sea stories that I’ve all but exhausted. Every once in a while I’m reminded of something else from the past but the story, once put down on paper, is too close to something already written so I discard it for fear of being repetitive. A few months ago, I tried to write straight fiction but that turns out to be much more difficult than one would imagine. I’m still working on it but its going to be a while before that starts surfacing in its final form. So what’s left? Well, it looks like I will soon be going back into the political arena for no other reason than there’s never a shortage of material there. Also, I have a legitimate cause to embrace now. I have decided to embrace the cause of radical centrism.

I’ve always been a stalwart supporter of the GOP, but recently have been suffering a major crisis of political faith. Flush with a string of recent victories, the party leadership seems to believe that their success is a reflection of a shift in public opinion that favors the conservative movement. They feel emboldened and empowered, as if they have been given a mandate by the people to move ever closer to the far right and promote the agenda of people who, not all that long ago, would have been considered the part of the party’s lunatic fringe. I do not believe that the GOP has been given a popular mandate any more than I believe Bill Clinton never inhaled or never “had sexual relations with that woman”. I believe the Republican Party owes its success in large part to the implosion of the Democratic Party.

During the 2000 presidential race, the Democrats tried to take the middle road, projecting an aura of moderation as did the Republicans. The result was one of the narrowest elections in the history of the United States. In 2004, they tried to distinguish themselves a little more. They went further left, nominating a former anti-war activist who tried to play himself off as compatible with the political mainstream. He failed miserably. He seemed unable to commit to any particular strategy so that when he tried to project himself as strong and unwavering, he appeared insincere and as if he was not really sure what he was doing. For all of George Bush’s faults, he at least seemed to have conviction, something a president needs to have if he is leading a nation at war. Though a close race, I never doubted Republican victory.

After the 2004 campaign, the DNC just seemed to cave in upon itself. They seem to be moving even further left than they were before in spite of the fact that the voting public is reluctant to move along with them. Instead of offering alternative solutions to the issues of the day, they only offer adversarialism, doing their best to obstruct Republican initiatives for no other reason than that they originated from the opposition. The leaders of their party offer little more than vindictive diatribes, which are at the same time transparently hypocritical and devoid of any spirit of constructive cooperation. They want all but are getting nothing. This is an extremely dangerous situation as a viable opposition is an absolutely critical component of a healthy democracy and without it, there is little to keep the process’s victors from becoming victims of their own excesses.

With the DNC drifting further left and the GOP marching further right, what happens to those of us in somewhere in the middle? Our voices get lost in the rhetorical hyperbole of fringe activism, unrepresented as both political institutions drift farther away from the mainstream. In a democracy, the government should reflect the common values of society as a whole, not dictate those values to society, which is what I see happening today. Take the issue of gay marriage. Personally, I fail to see how two homosexuals getting married will impact my life in any way whatsoever. I take great exception to people on the right trying to imply that if I condone this activity, the responsibility for the resultant collapse of western civilization rests upon my shoulders. I also resent the left’s seeming implication that if I do not enthusiastically endorse gay marriage that I am some sort bigoted religious zealot. Frankly, I could care less one way or the other and if the situation does not affect me, I can see no reason at all why I should put any extra effort into impeding another individual’s constitutional right of the pursuit of happiness. Let them get hitched. I only ask that they keep the more explicit honeymoon pictures to themselves.

The reason I picked this issue as an example was that I was involved in several debates on this topic during the last campaign. It seemed like most of them began split along party lines, with Republicans against it and Democrats for it. The longer the debate went on, the less passionate people were about the issue until in the end it seemed to me as if no one truly cared much about it. It was as if they were just taking their cues from the party they were loyal to. If we lived in a politically healthy era, their parties should have been taking their cues from them. Yet in today’s environment, it is almost impossible for the politicians to hear moderate voices of reason over the clamor of special interest groups. The rational voice of moderation needs to be heard, yet at this point I do not think it has a voice. The centrists need an Ann Coulter or an Al Franken, someone who can galvanize and unite the mainstream majority, suggest common sense compromises on thorny policy issues and speak loudly enough to drown out those on both sides of the aisle that try to force us either further left or further right than where we think we should be. I would volunteer for the job but no one has any idea who I am and I’m sure that my lurid accounts of alcoholic excesses would surely prevent me from being taken seriously in the political arena. Then again, people in the political arena take Teddy Kennedy seriously all of the time.

So anyway, I’m going to venture out into politics yet again on a quest to find the voice of reason in American politics. What this means to The JEP Report, I do not know at this point. I have considered starting up a separate blog for politics and updating The JEP Report more infrequently, but I have also considered starting up several subject-specific blogs and using The JEP Report as a resource for just posting everything that I write. I’m not sure what I’m going to do yet. In the meantime, you’ll get pretty much everything until I make a decision.


Blogger Sacto Ritch said...

Firstly, What are you doing posting at 11:46? Shouldn't you be working? Secondly, I personally like the political stuff. The sea stories are old news to me. I've heard them all over many beers over the years. (there's a song in there somewhere)
I think the radical center needs a common man's voice. I voice that needs not be as pure as the wind driven snow. We need...JEP! A man as pure as that nasty snow that's left on the curb weeks after the storm. A man who's experienced the sexual Disneyland that is Thailand and still has a functional wang. A man not afraid to whip it out in public and tell the truth that middle America so desperately neeeds to hear. Because the truth of the matter is that most Americans believe the same things we do but are too busy working, raising our families and drinking on the weekends! I'm sure everybody's heard the old phrase about the squeaky wheel. Well dammit, I'm tired of not being squeaky! However I want someone to squeak for me. James, I think you are the man for the job. I believe you could go beer for beer with Teddy (who, by the way, no one takes seriously), Stare down Bill Bennett in a poker game, and go pill for pill with Rush. And if you will have me, I'll be there to back you up and kick the crap out of Al Frankin when he steps up. Yes JEP yes! Make us proud! Don't deny your lack of judgement! Embrace it! Believe me, you will have way more respect from the common man than any nut job on the left or right.

Your friend and bodyguard,


1:11 PM  
Blogger JEP said...

Dammit Ritch, you've gone and made me cry. That was beautiful man, just beautiful. I now proclaim you cheerleader in chief! I will be sending your uniform to you immediately.

By the way, I usually post during my lunch break.

1:56 PM  
Blogger Sacto Ritch said...

SWEET!! Do I get pom-poms and a short skirt? I'm sure I'd be very imposing to would be threats with a scruffy beard, a cigar, a cheerleader outfit and pony tails.


2:44 PM  
Blogger JEP said...

Ritch, you get pom-pom's short skirt, and a halter top emblazoned with the Hello Kitty emblem. And a set of brass knuckles to use if Franken gives you any lip!

hehe, my comment code to post this is fbsex. Floss Before SEX?

5:50 PM  

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