Tuesday, June 10, 2008

impeachment resolution

At this very moment in Washington, the Clerk of the United States House of Representatives is reading Rep. Dennis Kucinich's 35-count impeachment resolution. According to C-SPAN television, the Clerk began the reading at 8:25pm ET; it is now 11:04pm ET; the Clerk is currently reading Article 26. The resolution takes up virtually the entire House Congressional record, spanning 20 pages with three columns of text per page.

I had come across Kucinich reading his resolution in its entirety on the House floor last night; by the time I saw him speaking, he was about half-way through (it was about 10pm). What I find the most remarkable, though, is that none of the mainstream media, except for a smattering of blurbs by a few of them here and there, seem to be paying much attention to it.

Why not?

Monday, June 9, 2008

die-hard? will there be a sequel?

If you haven't heard, the Madisonian is here to tell you that Hillary Clinton has suspended her campaign and has lined up first behind Barack Obama. Of course, this is much to the dismay of her "die-hard" supporters, many of whom could be heard booing at Clinton's very mention of the junior senator from Illinois.

What I would like to discuss is the notion of "die-hard" supporters of Hillary Clinton. While these supporters do exist, for the most part the electorate is ill-informed, easily swayed, and indifferent, leaving the notion of a hard-core partisan base for any candidate questionable at best. But despite this, there is a consensus among political pundits, partisan strategists, and campaign brass alike that Clinton has a lot of work to do in order to convince her (18 million) supporters to de-cling themselves from her and instead to rally behind Obama. Why is this? Why do those groups that have so strongly supported Clinton done so? In the opinion of the Madisonian, the support for Mrs. Clinton provided by the working class, the undereducated, and senior citizens has less to do with an unyielding and deeply-seeded dedication to her campaign and much more to do with the color of her former opponent's skin and the sound of his (especially middle) name. For example, based on the Madisonian's calculation of these exit poll results, in the 33 primaries that took place after the bowing out of John Edwards, on average, 64.78% of white voters aged 65+ chose Clinton over Obama. If it is the case that the majority of the electorate is ignorant of the issues which distinguish Obama and Clinton--moreover, ignorant of the state of the country and the policies needed to rectify it in general--then why should this be the case? Why is all this convincing needed? Why will not dedicated Democrats line up behind the Democratic nominee? It may seem obvious to many, but for some reason the race issue is not garnering much attention, aside from the discussion that resulted from Obama's speech on race delivered on 18 March. Let's face it, racism still exists, and in much larger quantities than is usually admitted. When faced with the choice of a white woman or a black man to be their next chief executive, voters found it much easier to go with the former.

Why is this? Dinesh D'Souza speaks about "rational discrimination"--the tendency of people to judge an individual using probabilities based on a group of similar individuals. For example, statistically, young men are involved in more car accidents than young women; therefore, insurance companies charge higher rates for male drivers than for their female counterparts. In this case, the observer (the insurance company) has utilized an opportunity cost-lowering device (statistics) in order to come to a general conclusion (charge higher rates for males than for females). In the same way, many in the American electorate have utilized "rational discrimination" to come to a conclusion about Barack Obama. Instead of visiting his campaign website or speaking to well-versed supporters, the ill-informed, indifferent electorate has employed an opportunity cost-reducing device in order to come to the quickest, least painful conclusion: blacks are disproportionately violent and criminal and uneducated; Barack Obama is (half) black; thus, Barack Obama should not be president. By default, then, Hillary Clinton is their choice, and they must make sure she wins, lest Barack Obama get the chance.

This rationalization is, of course, rubbish. In fact, although the Madisonian is well aware of the difficulty in changing the ingrained attitudes of the human psyche, I must make the attempt.

I propose that a black president will be good for all parts of the American populace. Let's start with blacks themselves. As of now, who are the most visible black role models? It's a rather short list: rappers, actors, and athletes. It is rather unlikely that any given young black person will become a rapper or an actor or a professional athlete. Thus, these sources of inspiration are limited. And when these sources run dry--and run dry they will--what happens then? Well, then they turn to the other more tangible and voluminous influences in their lives: drug dealers, gangbangers, and the like. Now, to be sure, I do not mean to paint all blacks in this dreary picture. Many have transcended their standard fate and achieved success beyond which many of us could hope for ourselves. But they, alas, are the exception, not the rule. It is a cruel and unfortunate reality that blacks have among the largest high school dropout rates; the highest crime rates; greatest incarceration rates; and lowest incomes. While I will save the discussion on this racial dilemma for a later posting, these facts serve this particular posting quite well.

So what to do? Well, I suggest that a black president will greatly expedite the road to healing the wounds of the past. Young blacks will truly be able to look at President Obama and say, "there is truly nothing that I cannot do."

In the same way, the election of a black president will make bigoted Americans think again before spouting their drivel. No longer will the ignorant be able to speak about the ineptitude of blacks lest they turn on the television to see President Obama, former president of the Harvard Law Review (one of the most prestigious gigs in town--other than the presidency, of course), speaking from his chair in the Oval Office.

Thus, electing Barack Obama as president will greatly spur the process of closing the wounds of racial discord and discontent in America. I by no means suggest that his election will cause a magic wand to be waved and all our problems regarding race to be solved overnight; rather, I understand the great benefit that his election will create, both here at home and abroad.

So, am I wrong? Am I playing the race card too heavily and without necessity? Or is there a real case to be made that race will prove to be a larger issue in this campaign than the media have put on? And what of the possible benefits of finally electing a black president? Will it serve as a catalyst for racial harmony, or will it instead simply stifle open discussion about race relations in America?


Greetings and salutations from the Madisonian Observer. Based in Madison, Wisconsin, the Madisonian is a 22-year-old UW student with a penchant for, well, everything. From discussion and commentary on issues from politics to the courts and science to religion, the Madisonian is ready and willing to prod and probe the minds of all who wish to visit. Although several blogs based in Madison have recently begun to thrive, the Madisonian was still left wanting. That is, blogs for the single-issue reader abound, but none for the "kaleidoscopic man, a man of many different humors, fair and colorful as the city itself" (Republic, Book VIII).

Indeed, it is the intention of the Madisonian to present as great a breadth and depth of issues as possible. The Madisonian will attempt to keep the discussion as germane to the day as possible, but there are no guarantees.

Above all, the Madisonian wants this blog to provide a fresh outlook on a variety of issues. The Madisonian wants readers to think and to question. So, if this sounds good, please visit. The Madisonian really wants to read your thoughts and your ideas, and is very excited to provide a great forum from which to do it.