Sunday, February 22, 2015

Politics And Idealism

There's that great scene in Wall Street where Lou Mannheim (Hal Holbrook) tells Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) that money "makes you do what you don't want to do." One of two great scenes with Holbrook and Sheen.

Well, politics also makes you do what you don't want to do. Even more so than money. There's no way to get anything done in politics without behaving in an un-idealistic manner, without compromising, without doing something you find odious in order to achieve something you consider noble -- if, that is, you're the type of politician who cares at all about doing good for other people. It seems that politicians who are not that type can thrive. And you have to deal with them.

I'm not saying this as a criticism of politics, but as a criticism of idealism. It's correct that idealism is portrayed as the opposite of realism, because idealism avoids dealing with reality.

In Germany, where the Green Party started and where it wields great power, there have long been two factions known as the Realos and the Fundis. "Realos" translates to "realists," or to "realpolitikers," and "Fundis" to "fundamentalists," or "idealists." Joschka Fischer is the most successful Realo in the history of Germany's Green Party. He was one of the 3 most powerful politicians in Germany during Gerard Schroeder's administration, from 1998 to 2005, and he has often been #1 in polls of Germany's best-liked politicians. Who are some of the leading Fundis? Screw them, I'm not going to even do them the courtesy of naming them, because, like all political idealists, they're just morons who are in the way, who never help anyone but the other side. They accused Fischer of selling out for starting to wear suits and ties when he became Germany's Foreign Minister in 1998. Namby-pamby bullshit like that. They're in the way. Joschka Fischer, Realo, realist, real politician, an effective player who gets all sorts of things done, getting Greens into a state administration for the first time in 1998 being just one of a long list of things he's gotten done, Fischer realized that if he continued, as Foreign Minister, to wear the traditional Green uniform of jeans and sneakers, the way he dressed would impair his effectiveness as he met with the most powerful politicians on Earth and brought the Green agenda of environmentalism, gay rights, military de-escalation, etc, etc, with him. Fischer continued to kick ass, and didn't seem too bothered by the Fundis wailing that wearing Armani constituted selling out.

The Green Party has been able to achieve and hold positions of power, political elected offices, because Germany, like most countries, has proportional representation. An individual doesn't have to win a majority or plurality of votes in order to take office: Germans vote for parties, and if a party has more than 5% they're in. (Germany instituted the so-called "5% hurdle" after WWII to stop the proliferation of whacko fringe parties.)

Unfortunately for us Amurrkins, we in the US have winner-takes-all elections of individuals instead of proportional elections of parties, which means that there are no Green Realos in the US. The US Green Party has only hopeless fools, Fundis, idealists, morons who are in the way. A vote for Green in the US is a vote for the GOP, because only the GOP or the Democrats are going to win any election, and if you like Green politics you should vote for the Democrats because they're much closer to to your positions than the Republicans. Yes, some Democrats are going to do things and vote for bills which offend you. But Republicans are much worse, and you are responsible for them and their racist, sexist, anti-science, pro-oil politics just as much as any Democrat if you vote Green. If you voted Green in the US you gave up the real power of your vote in favor of idealism, which is a dream world. Greens in the US like to think of themselves as fighting the Matrix,

but in the US, the Greens are a part of the Matrix.

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