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The Powell History Person of the Year (2008)

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Well, maybe Obama is the guy of the year...

But does his election further show that government is becoming irrelevant to the people?

You can measure that by determining how much government control over people's lives Americans support and vote for. Obama ran on more government control than McCain, and Americans rewarded him for it.

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Months before the election I heard many people saying that neither Obama nor Clinton would be elected because of race or sex. Afterward this was confirmed when many people indicated to me that they were releived race didn't derail Obama's campaign. His election was proof that race is no longer a very big issue in America.

I don't disagree, but I think it's time to stop making that particualr observation about america, as though it were uniquely American.

Agreed, but I don't think Powell characterized the problem as being uniquely American.

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You can measure that by determining how much government control over people's lives Americans support and vote for. Obama ran on more government control than McCain, and Americans rewarded him for it.

Obama ran against the record of the previous administration, and people rewarded him for that. Beyond that, both candidates offered up pragmatist solutions that would confuse the hell out of Einstein if he decided to give them credence. You can't say that Americans consciously chose higher taxes and more government, out of that mess.

Most people vote for the message, not for the nuances in the small print.

Obama's message was clear: Republicans suck, vote for change.

McCain's message was clear too: I can't say that Republicans don't suck, since I'm a Republican. Vote for <insert unintelligible cliché's here (including some weird concept according to which we can't know whether Abortion is right or wrong, so such moral issues should be left up to the states, to which Whoopy Goldberg (a comic with no political experience or too many signs of intelligence for that matter) replied: According to that principle, should slavery also be left up to the states? McCain's answer: you tell me Kurt, because I'm still watching The View hoping to hear it.) >.

I believe Americans (especially independents) chose the Republicans suck part of those messages. ( the only true part by the way)

In fact to me it looks like Americans have been choosing lesser government, when given the option, and then they keep turning away from the Republicans, when they refuse to keep that promise of lesser government. (or screw up the economy in general)

When the economy was improving due to actual lesser government (in the 80's), the Republicans stayed in power. When the two Bush's screwed it up (by promising lesser government and not keeping their word, but rather overspending and screwing up the economy), Americans turned to the only alternative.

If there was a Republican president, who actually kept cutting both spending and taxes, and kept the economy going strong as a result, there's no way most Americans would react negatively to that, in the name of some Marxist rhetoric about the poor being taken advantage of. Unfortunately the Republicans are too busy pushing the Bible, driving up spending on pork to their home states and altruistic wars for that to happen.

Edited by Jake_Ellison
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Oops, you're both absolutely right about my misinterpretation. After reading it again, I'm clearly in error.

Thanks for acknowledging that!

This is ridiculous. Of course I give them credit for all of their accomplishments. However, I also acknowledge their errors while studying their actions/ideas in order to form my overall judgment of them.

Against what standard? What they accomplished was amazingly positive for all men. I mean, Africa wasn't a great place to live, and except for the Westernized sections of it, it's still not a good place to live.

My conclusion is no different than yours. To draw a parallel, consider the status of Hank Rearden through most of Atlas Shrugged. Hank is a moral giant, in addition to being the most productive genius within the entire work. One could say that like the Founders, Rearden "inherited" many of the ideas from the culture that surrounded him, including his dichotomous acceptance of the looter's standard of morality (which he later corrects, mind you). Stating that this was clearly an error is not an attempt to destroy his image as the productive genius that he is.

Yes, but what I'm saying is that slavery was not a "stain" on America. Slavery you might say is a "stain" on the world. America inherited that legacy with the explicit idea that it would end it. America at essence, at root, was anti-slavery, and this is what allowed for the conquest of slavery.

If anything, it shows how much of an accomplishment his overcoming it was (just as the abolishment of slavery was such an accomplishment), due to the prevalence and popularity of the ideas he rejects. I'm in complete agreement with your judgment of the Founders and the status of America as a country, I just don't think that mentioning a fact such as Powell did represents a complete repudiation of all that they ultimately stand for.

Slavery was heavily entrenched in America at the time of the founding, so it took a great deal to up root it. I see America's creation as the starting of the uprooting process. This is why I don't consider slavery to be a stain on America. It is a stain on those who came before America.

In principle, absolutely. In terms of concretes, if there is to be a Second Renaissance during my lifetime, I will have contributed to it. To be just, I have benefited from the ideas and actions of Locke and the Founders, but there's one thing that we have that they didn't: Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism.

Yes, I agree you have the potential, but I just wanted you to acknowledge the actual!

This does NOT in any take away from what we *did* do, but I must take issue with statements like "The US ended slavery" that imply that the US and the US alone did it. It was the UK alone at first, then later joined by the US once we got our own house in order, a process that took 80+ years.

The U.S. alone did not do it, but I'd say it was the biggest force in the process. Also, I don't think the UK had nearly the challenge America had, because slavery was entrenched deeply in America.

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Obama ran against the record of the previous administration, and people rewarded him for that. Beyond that, both candidates offered up pragmatist solutions that would confuse the hell out of Einstein if he decided to give them credence. You can't say that Americans consciously chose higher taxes and more government, out of that mess.

Most people vote for the message, not for the nuances in the small print.

Obama's message was clear: Republicans suck, vote for change.

Obama didn't just run against Republicans. Lots of other poltical candidates ran, and run, against Republicans, but they didn't get elected, either. Obama ran against Republicans and for Democratic socialism. Obama didn't say, "Vote for whatever change I bring you." He didn't say, "I want change that gets government off your back, upholds your individual rights, and makes you take responsibility for your lives." He said, "Vote for change, and here's the socialist laundry list I mean by 'change'." He advocated public service, renouncing selfishness as a virtue, negotiating with enemies to get the world to like us, higher taxes on the wealthy, crippling regulations on the oil and coal industries, sweeping green policies, radical undoing of the Constitution, he swept personal and public scandals under the rug, and much, much more. And Americans said yes. Whether they support that by conscious identification or a subconscious response to their values is irrelevant to what they chose and the danger it poses. If Americans can't be bothered to tell good policy from bad, and regard serious, consistenly advocated threats to freedom as small-print nuances not worthy of noticing, then they cannot be counted on to defend freedom in this country.

McCain's message was clear too: I can't say that Republicans don't suck, since I'm a Republican. Vote for <insert unintelligible cliché's here (including some weird concept according to which we can't know whether Abortion is right or wrong, so such moral issues should be left up to the states, to which Whoopy Goldberg (a comic with no political experience or too many signs of intelligence for that matter) replied: According to that principle, should slavery also be left up to the states? McCain's answer: you tell me Kurt, because I'm still watching The View hoping to hear it.) >.

Okay, so your point is that McCain is an unprincipled moron. No argument.

I believe Americans (especially independents) chose the Republicans suck part of those messages. ( the only true part by the way)

Again, if Americans voted out of rejection of Republicans, why did they choose more socialism over more freedom? And why have they been doing so for over a hundred years and continue to do so? What is it about Republicans that they hate and wish to replace? It isn't freedom, because they don't support principled defenders of freedom.

In fact to me it looks like Americans have been choosing lesser government, when given the option, and then they keep turning away from the Republicans, when they refuse to keep that promise of lesser government. (or screw up the economy in general)

When the economy was improving due to actual lesser government (in the 80's), the Republicans stayed in power. When the two Bush's screwed it up (by promising lesser government and not keeping their word, but rather overspending and screwing up the economy), Americans turned to the only alternative.

If there was a Republican president, who actually kept cutting both spending and taxes, and kept the economy going strong as a result, there's no way most Americans would react negatively to that, in the name of some Marxist rhetoric about the poor being taken advantage of. Unfortunately the Republicans are too busy pushing the Bible, driving up spending on pork to their home states and altruistic wars for that to happen.

The alternative that Americans are faced with is not limited to who ends up on the ballot on election day. They face alternatives all day, every day. They have the chance to learn about what made this country free, and about Ayn Rand's ideas, and other similar defenders of freedom and moral integrity. Political elections are statements about a society's moral values. The reason their only alternative to corrupt Republicans is corrupt Democrats is because they have spend the last hundred years joining the world in rejecting freedom.

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Obama didn't just run against Republicans. Lots of other poltical candidates ran, and run, against Republicans, but they didn't get elected, either.

I'm not all that passionate about this subject, plus there isn't any actual knowledge to be drawn from the whole thing. I was kinda posting on it for a fun, superficial discussion, and it's pointless to continue if you can't drop this technicality about "everybody hass a chance to become President". It's clearly unrealistic to think that other parties have a chance, because the two ruling parties are too entranched both on a local and federal level. It is so clear, that it's not even fun to argue it (especially since there's no easy way of proving it, because of the large number of variables).

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It may or may not be nothing. If, during the course of his Presidency, he will do exactly what any of his opponents would have done, then as far as history is concerned, the decision of US voters to elect him, instead of the other contenders who had a chance, ammounts to exactly nothing. I do have good reason to believe that is the case, that he in fact doesn't differ in a significant manner from his former opponents.

How do you determine that what Obama does is the same thing Hillary or Biden or Edwards would have done?

That of course doesn't mean that there is no free will: however, the free will exercised in 2008 (whether by US voters, who chose him over others, or by Barack Obama, who decided whether to commit publicly and definitely or not to a course of action-he mostly did not) does not ammount to all that much.

Free will in an election is limited to the choices available. That will always be the case.

The only thing Obama's election proves is that most Americans aren't racist enough to vote based on their hatred. (in fact it doesn't even prove that: black Americans could very well still be racist, as well as all those races who didn't have a horse in the race.)

I've a notion that Obama was treated better than the average candidate by the media because of his race. And that a lot of people voted for him for the same reason. But I can't prove it, and I doubt anyone will do so soon.

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I'm not all that passionate about this subject, plus there isn't any actual knowledge to be drawn from the whole thing. I was kinda posting on it for a fun, superficial discussion, and it's pointless to continue if you can't drop this technicality about "everybody hass a chance to become President". It's clearly unrealistic to think that other parties have a chance, because the two ruling parties are too entranched both on a local and federal level. It is so clear, that it's not even fun to argue it (especially since there's no easy way of proving it, because of the large number of variables).

If you think that political parties are immutable, metaphysical givens that have no connection to the prevailing cultural philosophy and that these philosophies can't and don't change over time, then you're right, there is no point in discussing it. It's obvious, though, that even the conservative and liberal establishment are subject to philosophical change. The current ideas behind environmentalism, political correctness, multiculturalism, Just War Theory, and many other cancers plaguing our politics were non-existent and unthinkable not too long ago. People's ideas do change.

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