A Guide To US Elections: Layman’s Lexicon

HaLin has been an actively passive watcher of the intensely (un)interesting Presidential candidate debates and intellectual mud-slinging, in the lead-up to US elections. With D-Day round the corner, HaLin realises that much of the electorate is likely to be reeling under the assault of political innuendo, being liberally thrown around from both sides.

This is a cause of much concern. In pressing times like these, where activity of any form is hard to spot, it behooves each thinking human to convey an impression of making an informed voting decision, in the very least.

This post hopes to serve as a guiding light in wading through the fog.

Political Left: A group of flip-floppers that see little Right, about anything in general, around election time.

Working for the greater good of humankind, this group brandishes the sabre of altruism to great effect. The unemployed, uninsured and the unhealthy merit a special spot in their lexicon. They attempt to do much for them, but periodically remind themselves of the fable of killing the goose that lays the golden egg.

This group has, historically, displayed an attitude of nonchalance towards the economics of revenue and expenditure. They tend to view (permanent) budget deficits as manna from heaven. Spend more than what you make, repeat indefinitely, and all will be well with the world. Those in the electorate who haven’t yet allowed themselves to be brainwashed by this catchline (the pesky blaspheme) are strongly encouraged to drop their ill-functioning anchors of basic reason, and embrace what is clearly in their best interest.

This group likes to paint businesses as profit-making beasts created by the evils of Capitalism. They are known to throw good money after bad, with the sole aim of saving jobs and the economy; even though their record at achieving either is shrouded in mystery. They like taxing in taxing times and hope that businesses and individuals will pay an expanding share of a reducing pie (income). When blaspheme wonder how loss-making businesses will help increase jobs and wages, this group pounces upon dissenting voices, writing it off as a deplorable instance of naiveté, idiocy or a concoction of both.

When all else appears to fail, they opt to blame China, as the root cause of all ills; known and unknown.

Political Right: A group of flip-floppers that see little Left, about anything in general, around election time.

This group is pro-business, or at least likes painting itself with that palette. They liken Corporations, too big to fail and often too big to save, to Messiah of Prosperity. What they earn eventually makes it way to people, helping the economy, helping the electorate, helping goodness in general. This group, though, displays a lack of understanding of the wind of the day. In pressing times, a pro-proletariat group is likely to garner sympathy votes. The blaspheme who suggest this are branded as being anti-Capitalism, pro-idiocy, or a concoction of both.

This group utters things that are closer to truth than its opponents. But it fails to acknowledge the effects of basic psychology. How incoming information is interpreted by the thinking electorate is a function of how it is packaged and delivered. By adopting directness over vagueness, preferred by its opponents, this group opens itself for vilification and accusations of belligerence.

Their policies are crystal clear in their fogginess. In this respect, they have something in common with their opponents. But both sides indulge in exposing the ineptness of the opponent, while caring to remain ignorant of the muck accumulating in their own backyards.

Foreign policy from both sides, too, share some common threads. While they seem to differ in means, both sides display a penchant to land up, often uninvited, on foreign shores to sort out problems that hitherto did not exist. The process of problem creation and resolution has been institutionalised to perfection through years of intense practice. Blasphemes are encouraged to use sophisticated nomenclature, preferably purveyors of altruism, while describing their actions.

When all else appears to fail, they opt to blame China, as the root cause of all ills; known and unknown.

Mainstream business, Unbiased Media: Mouthpieces of President Obama and Left-leaners, featuring fawning Ivory Tower savants schooled in coloured interpretation of Keynesian diktats, in general; and well-schooled in selective perception and reporting in particular.

Electorate: A group, largely composed of real and professed proletariat and the creme de la creme of idleness, demonstrating a special affinity for assimilating propaganda. This affinity is neatly counterbalanced by a remarkable ability to tune out opinion-altering facts, especially of the real variety. This group is best advised to partake in leisurely pub outings with a selection of equally (un)informed mates for a detailed discussion on the best candidate and the state of the economy and foreign policy. Consensus decision-making is a hallmark of democracies, collective self-interest is an aggregation of individual self-interests.

This group repeatedly finds itself being called upon to exercise an informed vote, despite an impressive historical record of uninformed decision-making. The basic instincts of self-interest and preservation, honed by the process of evolution, miraculously seem to fall at the altar of the polling booth.

Those wondering if the outcome of the election will really alter the state of the economy would do well to follow Jonathan Swift’s words from the Logicians Refuted:

Thus at the court, both great and small

Behave alike, for all ape all.

Voting and going bust offers better risk-reward to doing nothing, for the same outcome.


37 thoughts on “A Guide To US Elections: Layman’s Lexicon

  1. Having been incessantly bombarded with logical and thought-provoking articles on the US elections and how making an informed choice will have no impact, your post is a timely “glossary” of terms, as is often found at the end of a technical tome, to try and make at least some sense out of all that came before.

    1. 🙂 thank you.

      De-jargonising subjects, I think, might grow into a very profitable business proposition in the coming time. It is an area ripe for monetisation.

    1. Well, its all nomenclature and interpretation. As one swings further and further to either end of the spectrum, one discovers extreme forms that most dislike. Fascism and Communism being in that category.

      1. Life throws up various instances to remind me of those timeless words by Jonathan Swift.

        In my professional life, I have developed a habit of buying illusions that the herd wants to believe in, and selling reality. It works wonders.

      2. I think you referred to the ‘buying illusions, selling reality’ quote.

        Essentially, it boils down to a simple proposition. Many amongst us are wired to ‘living in a dream world’, so to speak. The reality around us is dark, harsh and if we paused to think, we’d see little to cheer about. Fixes that help us forget this reality, even if temporarily, is welcomed by us. It could take the form of compulsive social networking, gadget-buying, movie-watching, video/PC/tablet gaming, cigarette smoking, eating fatty food at McDonald’s even though there is a big move towards ‘health’…the list goes on.

        Most of these fixes create an illusion, which makes us feel as though we are on an oasis of comfort in a sea of harsh waters (reality). We gravitate to them and are ready to pay a premium to ‘feel the happiness’.

        I spend much time looking at the behaviour of the herd, and which fixes they gravitate to. Identifying this and acting on them is a rather enteratining exercise.

    1. I lean closer to the Center Right but the candidate is a downer. I don’t agree entirely with Rep policies but neither do I see much sense in specific Dem policies. Neither side has all the answers. Obama is a known entity, Romney unknown.

      The pulse of the times plays a key role. In recessionary environs, Left-leaners often present the path of least resistance. Obama is perceived to be a better choice for the people, and he will be a wonderful thing to happen to markets (feel-good status quo will be maintained), Romney will cause much pain.

      When I vote with capital, pragmatism trumps personal ideology.

      Curious. Why doesn’t it make sense to you?

      1. You are speaking from a purely economic perspective. However politicians have significant effects in other spheres as well. While I can see why you might appreciate the Repub economic stance more, their stance on many other things is silly/regressive enough that it is shocking they are even being given a look-see.

      2. Yes, some of their stance seem outright ridiculous. One cannot get them all. The economy is the #1 concern today, not brushing off the importance of other areas, but this is one problem that needs most fixing. The Left’s actions in this regard has been patchy, at best, and outright futile at worst, with more than a semblance of window dressing of numbers to convince people of improvement.

        I think Obama is likelier to take this one. Romney is a downer, in very many ways.

        Sometimes though, voting your self-interest also doesn’t result in the intended objective. Many overseas voters voted for a Lib Dem-Conservative stalemate and eventually a coalition, in the British election. This objective was achieved and yet the coalition did a U-turn on one of the primary reasons this set voted for (immigration poilicy). There is an ideology, a promised version of it that attracts voters, and the actual implementation. The three, often, look completely different.

  2. It’s an interesting stand-off: would you pick the party that offers some ideological hope of economic recovery, but nothing concrete (afaik), or the party that appears to be setting out on a bad path, but has a concrete plan? To rephrase: is it worth settling for the party that is very clear about how much damage they will do in crucial matters for the sake of the economy (eg: http://www.theverge.com/2012/11/5/3606378/editorial-why-i-am-voting-for-barack-obama)?

    I tend to think that fiscal policy can be corrected, but having a hard party line on some common sense issues cannot ie Romney cannot suddenly turn around on pro-choice/healthcare whereas Obama may still adopt a better economic plan.

    Curious: what is so terrible about the Dems economic plan? AFAIK the Repubs haven’t given us anything close to a concrete plan. Email if necessary.

    1. It is a tough decision, for sure.

      I’m not sure if the Left has a concrete plan, to be honest. The path of least resistance is to act, in a recession. It would be disastrous if the ruling party appeared to do little and saw the economy limp along, maybe even shrink. There is a big cost to bystanding in a crisis. So initiating actions, even if they achieve little, would be the preferred mode of action.

      Not suggesting that Repubs will be the cure all. Obama had the misfortune of embarking on his term during the early stages in a long period of pain. It is unsurprising that his economic record appears poor.

      The bigger trouble, IMO, is the coterie of advisors that he is surrounded with, those feeding him vital insights on guiding the economy. This group is entrenched in the dogma of opening money spigots as a cure all, even though the historical record of such a course of action is suspect. There seems to be an utter lack of the alternative narrative in mainstream media, academia and decision making entities, which is worrying.

      A consensus does not mean appropriateness.

      Truth is, we are in for a long period of pain. No two ways about it. Question is, will you vote for someone who reminds you of that on your face (roughly, Right’s position), or one that makes you believe things are alright (Left’s position).

      1. Ok, making a little more sense.

        But from what I understand, the right isn’t doing much outside of reminding us how crappy everything is. What little math they have presented doesn’t even add up. I guess it’s a lesser of two evils thing – this way a lot of other things won’t get so effed up.

      2. Neither side inspires much confidence. It’s a dart throw. Reminds me of how things are here. You head to the polling booth, twiddle your fingers thinking which of the lesser evils to vote.

        I wonder if there is a better system at picking the right candidate.

  3. The Titanic hits an iceberg and the Captain is notified that the boiler room is beginning to flood. He immediately issues orders for the crew to begin dismantling the upper decks and throwing them overboard. He says this will lighten the ship, increase its speed, and thus bring them safely to port. But when passengers on the upper decks hear of his plan, they immediately rush to the bridge and insist that it is the decks below the waterline–especially the ones that are actually leaking–that must be discarded. After all, it is they, not the upper decks, which are causing the ship to sink. By then passengers on the middle decks became aware of what’s going on, and begin a heated discussion about which plan is best. Those in cabins well above the waterline tended to agree with discarding the decks below. But those closer to the water naturally favored the Captain’s plan to remove the upper decks instead.

    In the meantime a few passengers–after looking out of their port holes, and noticing the increasing tilt of the ship–decided it might be best to put on a life jacket, find a lifeboat, and row themselves back to land. Which they did. And by the time the argument raging on the bridge had concluded, a vote taken, and a decision reached…they were too far away to see which decks, once removed, would most serve to ‘righten’ (or ‘leften’?) a sinking ship.

    1. Beautifully summed up, William.

      This Allegory of the Ship ought to be communicated to both sides, and politicians in general around the world.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if someone blamed China for strategically placing the iceberg in the ship’s path.

  4. Center right, center left, capitalism, communism, socialism, blah, blah, blah.

    A problem cannot be solved by applying more of the same principles and methods that caused it in the first place. I think I’m paraphrasing some obscure physicist named Albert something or other.

    Unless our species can learn, very quickly, how to build a society based upon cooperation and sharing rather that exploitation and profit, extinction is immanent.

    All hierarchies are grown from seeds encoded with their own self-destruction. Just like monsanto terminator seeds. This has led to the bloody cycle that has been human history.

    If we do not immediately make the fundamental changes needed to kick-start our evolution, which has been stalled for at least ten or twelve thousand years, human history will come to an end within less than fifty years.

    Just my opinion.

    Consummatum est.

    1. As a society, we seem to have developed a taste for ‘isms’. There is a certain comfort that is derrived from nomenclature, probably makes us feel we are on top of things.

      I have a friend who holds an optimistic view about reshaping the world based on the premises of sharing and cooperation. I, in good measure and somewhat to play the Devil’s Advocate, hold the opposite view. The exchanges are engaging and we have an informal wager going on, a 30-year bet contingent on how society would evolve (towards cooperation and sharing v/s profiteering and selfishness). I hope to be alive till the end of the term…(psst: I suspect I have good odds on this one! :))

      I think we are getting there (to the point of evolutionary reset) at an accelerating rate. Hope floats eternal.

      1. Granting that you’re correct regarding “evolutionary reset”, do you genuinely expect it to move us to an even more destructive level of profiteering and selfishness?

        On another note, perhaps just a quarter tone sharp, I don’t think the species has another thirty years. Of course I could be wrong, but I don’t think so. I think our present level of unrestrained profiteering and selfishness has broken things beyond repair.

      2. I have no idea when the reset point will be hit. What seems more plausible is that the natural incentive structure in the system that we are in, is designed to take us further along the path of pursuing the profit motive, almost as an end in itself (not alluding to my personal sentiment, just stating the path of least resistance).

        Philosophically, I have no opinion on this process of evolution (honestly, I have no view on right/wrong, as I think this is a matter of personal choice). However, the system stokes tendencies of greed, collusion and its various allied forms that we have come to abhor. I am certain though, that this is also a reflection of the times we are in. When the next boom comes around, the biggest U-turn will arrive from the so-called present ‘Wall-Street despisers’.

        This remains the path of least resistance, in my humble (and mostly useless) opinion, and I’m willing to wager on it! At the worst, I might be wrong (which is alright, we are full of errors anyway), or I might be dead (which would be Nirvana), and I might have a happier world to dwell in. All-win for me, as I see it!

      3. While I agree that greed and self-interest are intrinsic to and incentivised by the system that enslaves us, I do not consider them to be “natural” to or predominant in the species as a rule. It is my conclusion that they are, rather, pathological traits that are forced into prominence by indoctrination; manufactured in much the same way consent to war and other atrocious acts are.

        To explain in detail what I mean would require a comment of over a thousand words or more. Harken back to my essay, which, I think, first introduced us to each other; “The Genetics Of Tyranny; Psychopathy, Parasites And Totalitarianism”.

        You have also commented on “A Wrong Turn On A One-Way Street; A Cul-De-Sac Of Slavery And Extinction, which further explains how a psychopathological minority has managed to repeatedly achieve dominance over “normal” humans for millennia.

        I think you would find some in-depth research into Ponerology most enlightening and stimulating.




      4. I have been reading on Ponerology, after your suggestion. Thought-provoking for sure, I hope to finish the book soon and share my thoughts with you.

        It is definitely an interesting perspective (pathological traits formed via indoctrination). I’m quite inclined to agree. It is possible that a few are ‘abnormal’ and more inclined to succumbing to greed and the pursuit of self-interest.

        However, I think that for the vast majority of the others, the pull of peer pressure and the ‘very real’ illusion of being left behind by the steamroller of time/progress, forces them to adopt similar courses of action (pursuit of self-interest).

        It may be put forward that the process of indoctrination begins in school, where the child is thrown into the murky waters of competition, all in the name of ‘making them ready for the real world’. Assembly-lining has its benefits, and has its roots in the heart of the industrial revolution. Schools have evolved along these lines. Pursuit of self-interest extends to the root sphere.

        I realise I strike a somewhat pessimistic note, and I confess to thinking along similar lines as yours, even if just as an exercise in idle contemplation.

        The more I think, one of the means that seems a necessary condition to reshaping society along cooperation is to go back to the barter system of monetary exchange. Much of the present situation is an outgrowth of the paper money system. I;m not being philosophical or spiritual here, but for purely economic reasons the pursuit of money is a fool’s errand.

        I refer you to this piece I penned for the Foreign Policy Journal recently (this is among my more serious, non-satirical writing!), where I wrote on this topic:


      5. At this time my conclusion is that the science of Ponerology holds the answers to why the human species now stands at the end of the suicidal path it has followed for so long; at least twelve thousand years. This was reflected, I had hoped clearly, in my “Wrong Turn On A One-Way Street” essay, which you have already read and commented upon.

        This conclusion, like any other I hold, is subject to change at any time without notice.

        While I agree that “peer pressure” is a powerful force and drives much of the conflict, crime and discord amongst modern humans, I say again, it is not a “natural” trait of the human species. Or, at the very least, not a predominant one. I don’t think that large, centralised societies, controlled by a rigid hierarchic “government” is a natural or healthy state.

        I refer you to the story of the kunlangeta;
        “A story reported by Dr. Jane M. Murphy, now director of Harvard’s Psychiatric Epidemiology Unit, serves as an example of the vigilant stance that one millennia-old indigenous culture – a group of Inuit in Northwest Alaska – takes regarding psychopathic types within their midst.
        So aware is this group regarding the existence of these individuals that their language includes a term for them – kunlangeta – which is used to refer to a person whose “mind knows what to do but does not do it,” resulting in such acts as lying, cheating, stealing and taking advantage of the tribe without making sufficient contribution. And how seriously do the group’s members take the need to respond to the threat such individuals pose to the group’s sustainability? When asked what the group would typically do with a kunlangeta, Murphy was told ‘Somebody would have pushed him off the ice when nobody else was looking’.”

        Your comments regarding money and barter take us into an entirely different, though closely related, area of study.

        After reading the first two paragraphs of “The Great Reset…”, I can see we have a fundamentally different viewpoint with regard to money.

        “To all Goldbugs: Fiat money is not the problem – the private issue of fiat money is the problem, which is like a private tax on all society.”
        Stephen Zarlenga, Director, The American Monetary Institute

        I’ve devoted quite a bit of time to Numismatics, and I’m not talking about coin collecting here but the study of money. I’ve come to the conclusion that money and barter are mutually exclusive. It may be a matter of semantics but, if so, it’s a very important distinction.

        While I agree that going back to a barter system wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing, it would require massive changes to social structures with a complete reversion to decentralised communities and the elimination of any form of representative currency. Barter is not suitable to large centralised societies controlled by massive hierarchic “governments“with “economies” driven by “capitalism” and its attendant usurious monetary system.

        You can barter with commodities or you can use fiat money. You cannot successfully turn a commodity into money or use a currency “backed” by a commodity. Nor can you pretend fiat money has intrinsic value and declare it a commodity; our present predicament.

        I touch very lightly on this here; http://chimaeraimaginarium.wordpress.com/2012/07/28/modern-religion-a-rose-by-any-other-name/ and here; http://chimaeraimaginarium.wordpress.com/2011/11/14/the-gold-myth-aside-from-god-the-longest-running-scam-in-history/

        If we’re going to talk about money, we first must decide what sort of society will be using it. Small, interrelated and cooperative but autonomous communities or giant, centralised “nations” with huge populations, “cities” and hierarchic “governments”?

        Now I will go back to The Great Reset. It appears there is no option to leave comments at foreign policy journal so, if I’m so inclined, I’ll use whatever contact method is available through wordpress to offer my thoughts.

        I must say, after reading the brief bio at the end of the article, I’m rather delighted by the fact that we have found so much common ground. I hold a deep conviction that capitalism and virtually any form of “for-profit” system are completely inimical to a healthy and sustainable society, intrinsically flawed, corrupt and abhorrent.

  5. “Nothing exists except atoms and empty space; everything else is opinion”. – Democritus

    One of the objectives when I started this blog was to let people a free rein to their opinions. I have many opinions but I’m not into the habit of taking myself too seriously. Holdings two opposing viewpoints at the same time in ones brain, and functioning sanely is an invigorating experience. Some of my most regular readers with whom I have engaging exchanges with are those holding views directly opposite to my own.

    I’m usually very quiet about my profession, as a few bad apples have given it a thoroughly bad name. Finane is like a gun in your pocket; you can use it either to safeguard, or to kill. Unfortunately, too many have used it for the latter.

    It strikes many as ironical, hypocritical even, that someone involved with growing paper wealth, can be so distant from the idea as to border on the non-materialistic. I seek refuge in the notion that paradoxes can co-exist happily. To me, it remains the best laboratory of human behaviour and actions. Which is what attracts me to it.

    The barter system is Utopian. We would need a mid-way arrangement, even if imperfect. The Commodity-backed system might give us a shot towards that. But even that will go bust, periodically.

    Coming back to the Democratic system of elections that we have around the world, the game has evolved from choosing the ‘most appropriate’ candidate, to a game of Keynes’ beauty contest (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keynesian_beauty_contest)

    Individual opinion does not matter, what the herd thinks does. The electorate, pretty much around the world, is faced with the prospect of voting for the lesser evil, for the candidate that is likely to be most pliable to the strongest interest group.

    1. As Ditkoff sadly observes, there is “…a tremendous amount and variety of kinds of trauma and deception relating to identity, image, symbolism, position and structure.” An inescapable consequence of the inherent conflict between “Human vs. Cultural Identity.” (Which is quite beautifully illustrated by a short video at the end of the article you’ll find here…)

      1. Thank you for sharing, William.

        I find it quite amusing that when evolution is a historical record of failures (more organisms have perished v/s those that managed to survive), we admire the ‘successes’ among us, as a society. In nearly every walk of social life, we uphold and admire the adherents to the norm, vilify the exception. However, in this one area, we do the exact opposite. Failure is the natural thing, it beats me why we are so scared of trying, of being ourselves, of falling flat on our faces…it ought to be the most natural thing to do.

      2. I have a few thoughts to bounce off you, with regards to the identity problem. It is something I think about, on occasions. I shall write to you soon.

        Your links are top-drawer, really. Yours is one of the most thought-provoking blogs I have come across on WordPress. i hope you complete your book soon.

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