Blog: Thin Line to Advance

Thin Line to Advance
Thin Line to Advance
Date: 2019-Aug-17 13:23:42 EST

I've been thinking further about Shahid Buttar, a challenger to Pelosi, and my extreme distaste for him. The interesting thing about it (to me) is that his concrete policy stances (based on his platform, published on his website) are actually closer to mine than Pelosi's, but there are two aspects of how I judge candidates that cause me to dislike him a lot more:

  • Firstly, I make inferences about how a pol thinks about issues based on their positions and how they speak. Although many of my most important positions (importance is as I see it; largely the positions that I think define whether someone is left-leaning or right-leaning in American contexts, like how large should the social betterment programmes be and what overall form should the economy take) are further left than the Democratic Party, my style of reasoning is, I think, fairly technocratic and centrist. I care a lot about how candidates reason because that suggests how well they react to facts and perhaps what choices they'll make in situations that won't make their way into platforms (either the boring stuff or the exceptional stuff).
  • Secondly, and likely related to that "technocratic-centrist reasoning style", while I usually judge centrist views without much fuss, and judge liberal views that align with my own with pleasure, liberal views that don't align with mine I judge about as harshly as terrible conservative views. There's a reason for this, which I'll discuss as a third point
  • I care a lot about making sure the right kind of liberalism wins, seeing the wrong kind as being as problematic as the worst of conservative views. The wrong kind of liberals are trying to build a society that I don't want to live in, and are often resistant to compromise or even discussion. Any activism that gives the impression it's coming from them is therefore something that I think I need to find a way to diminish or counter.

In practice, this makes me a kind of liberal that, despite not being centrist, often guards the value of the center. And I'm okay with that. Were Shahid to actually want my support, there are specific things in his platform he could change, along with some changes in how he speaks:

  • Moving to 100 percent clean and renewable energy within the next ten years is not an achievable goal and would lead to ruin. It's also unclear what changes to military policy he's talking about and that makes me nervous. Promising to give the environment much more weight in terms of regulation, and having good longer-term goals to get us on a better path? I could support that.
  • Association with the Green New Deal is association with those four idiots. They're toxic. Avoid them, even if you agree with many of their proposal. The GND also has (or had) some nutty stuff in it.
  • Participation in direct action might not be a great brand for a politician. I've done direct action, but I would not put that in my policy platform were I running for office.
  • I mostly like his healthcare ideas, but reducing military spending is a really, really bad idea given Russian and Chinese activism. Let's not depend on that.
  • His views on privacy (specifically around warrants) are overbroad if you read carefully and would hamstring the FBI. There are ways to limit warrantless search that don't go so far.
  • Liberty section: Libertarian leanings are a big no.
  • Intersectional feminism is not something that makes me want to vote for anyone
  • Closing military bases in willing foreign countries risks enabling Russia and China to do more land grabs - it's a terrible idea.
  • His intent to oppose any US military intervention abroad is absolutely unacceptable.
  • Expensive high-tech weapons platforms may still be a deal for the US military if they replace the need for more people
  • I worry that his immigration policies are effectively close to an open border
  • Antitrust law is a strange mechanism to solve an electoral problem he frames oddly. Needs more thought
  • De-miltarising our borders is forgetting that protecting borders is one of the natural roles of a military and defining aspects of a country.