Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Is two that much greater than one or zero?

I have been a little behind on my pleasure reading, but this fact wasn't as apparent as it became when I saw an article in New York Magazine about Scott Brown's recent election victory in Massachusetts and if/how Democrats might be able to win his support on some initiatives. That upset victory in Massachusetts now seems like ages ago but here is my post regardless...

It was informative for me to learn how, despite Brown's previous characterization as a "right wing nut" (who apparently exemplifies right wing nuttyness by posing nude in Cosmopolitan), he might turn out to be nothing of the sort (I didn't know much about his background). John Heilemann who authored the New York Magazine article, writes "For all the tea-party atmospherics around the Massachusetts race, there are plenty of indications that Brown is hardly a right-wing loony, and even some signs that he might be - wait for it - an honest-to-goodness northeastern moderate right out of the old school." Considering how wide the political spectrum is (taking into account all types of extreme or non-moderate views), the chances that someone actually elected to political office turns out to be moderate... seems to be reasonably high.

After intellectually digesting that, my mind entered a somewhat theoretical realm and considered how if most elected officials are moderate, we could essentially consider them to be identical (to an extent). In which case, what is the point of elections? I then brought my mind back from the theoretical and considered that, practically speaking, each election does involve a contest between two individuals who are at least somewhat different from each other. I am sure I read/heard the soon to be revealed insight somewhere, so apologies to the person that brought it to my attention, but here is the problem: we criticize societies that either have no option to elect someone or only "one option" to elect someone. Do we really live in such an improved society because we get to pick from two (instead of... one or zero!), when each of the two barely differs from the other?