It’s All Over/Stupid Bridge Games

I headed out bright and early Tuesday morning to pull the lever for Barack Obama.  The polling place was busy, but curiously, nobody was waiting to vote in my district, so I got in and out fast.  So that’s that.

And yet…

Some years ago, I read Thomas Frank’s book, What’s the Matter with Kansas?, and wondered at the political landscape where the struggling Kansans would consistently vote Republican, despite the fact that Republican policies were taking their jobs and leaving them worse off.

A New York Post op-ed piece at the time suggested that the Kansans were simply looking out for their own self-interest: they wanted to pay lower taxes.  But it’s more than that.

The United States used to stand for the idea of a place with limited government where one could work hard, compete fairly, and succeed.  The rest of the world probably still believes that, to some degree.  But for those of us who live here, it seems rather different.  I’ve speculated about the causes for that in these pages, and so won’t rehash that here.

I live in the city, and I’m pragmatic: I see that the changes around us under the Republicans (not necessarily initiated by the government, but encouraged by its free-market policies) are changing our country into something that we Americans are not necessarily morally, emotionally, or mentally prepared to face: a new era of competition for all of us.

So I’ll vote for Obama, to take a step away from that.  But it is a step away from what the United States traditionally stood for, and, yes, a step in the direction of socialism.

On the other hand, in cherishing what we stood for, unlike the Kansans of Franks’ book, I wouldn’t (and didn’t) vote for McCain as the more ‘true American’ alternative.  McCain is for big government too, just in a slightly different flavor.

But now I understand where the Kansans are coming from.

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The MTA, our local transportation agency, is renaming what we always knew as the Triborough Bridge as the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge.  The name refers to a group of toll bridges that connect Manhattan, the Bronx, and Queens.

We’ve known for some time that the MTA is in dire financial straits: another subway and bus fare hike seems inevitable for next year.  So why are they spending hundreds of thousands (and perhaps millions) of dollars to rename a bridge that had a perfectly good (and functional) name to begin with?

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