Anarcho-Sartorialism

Category: General

Ladies First

I’d like to start out by saying this post should not be considered a piece on social justice or equality. It is pure rationality.

Before women gained the right to vote in 1920, the title of First Lady was arguably the most politically powerful position a female could achieve. While some first ladies established a more influential legacy than others, the pretense of being a representative for their husband , the President, was an expectation.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Women like Eleanor Roosevelt greatly expanded the role of First Lady by traveling the country and abroad on behalf of her husband as well as writing a syndicated column, raising the bar for those who followed her. Most recently, through her health and education initiatives, Michelle Obama has reinforced the notion of the First Lady’s traditional responsibility of serving as the national conscience.

But in today’s diverse and enlightened society there is an impending question gnawing at the moral fiber of the fundamentally conservative and planting a seed of hope in the socially progessive: What happens when we have a First Gentleman? 

A Gentleman, being the opposite of a lady, would have no historical context from which to draw responsibility or expectation. The fundamentalist American public, provided they have gotten over the initial terror of having a female President, would have no way to scrutinize their new victim. Surely the people cannot expect a man to act as his female predecessors had! Or on the contrary would progressives stick by their vision of a government where gender is eliminated and refuse to refer to her as the first female President, never admonishing her for being a woman, but rather commending her for her individual efforts?

Possibly, despite demographic data, biological differences, and pretense, it could work. Perhaps even…better than before. Not because a man would be holding the position but because there would be no expectation –none to live up to and none to surpass. Instead of saying there would be absolutely no difference between how a man and woman would hold the position or saying a man and woman would handle the position in a completely different manner, why not put the responsibility on the individual?

Nothing good would come of blaming men for a First Gentleman’s failure in the same way that blaming all women in a society for the success/failure of the first female president would result in irrational consequences.It matters little whether you believe there should be a political distinction between the sexes or not in the given situation. The emphasis should be on the individual.

Though this is a severely micro approach to gender’s role in the political process, the message only grows more poignant when applied to a larger population. When responsibility is determined on an individual basis, prejudice and collectivist pretense is eliminated. The implications quickly outgrow the political setting and take root in the foundation of societal norms. It becomes less about arguments of women being too emotional to hold office or men having made a mess of politics from the beginning, and more of a discussion about how one individual’s actions affect an immeasurable amount of other individuals –even beyond their constituents.

Ultimately discourse becomes humanitarian; a conversation not about how to reach certain demographics or shifting your platform to conforms to a group’s agenda, but how to make your actions positively influence the lives of others. It is very difficult to love and care for an entire diverse population with a single unifying characteristic, but it is easy to love and care for an individual, regardless of any characteristic.

What I’m reading about today: How war affects civilization

Advertisements

Inefficient Ideas

The concept of inefficiency is nothing new to the American government –or the American people. Congress’s track record speaks volumes to that point. Why, then, is congress, despite its inefficiency, so necessary? …Is it necessary?

To explore this idea, one must take off the traditional/collectivist/nationalist hat and replace it with the hat of an unbiased individual interested only in the truth. In allowing yourself to wear a new hat you may find that it suits you much better than the old one.

I will focus primarily on the ways in which members of congress are voted in to office since that is where the power of the individual (who doesn’t hold a political office) is strongest (through voting). In America, every state except for Nebraska and Maine employ a winner-take-all system. This means that a candidate needs only a plurality of votes in order to win. It is for this reason, and the electoral college, that a candidate can become president despite losing the popular vote.

There are obvious problems with this system as portrayed in this Pre-Windows 98 info-graphic:

Two_party_system_diagram

 

Though this may seem contradictory according to my last post about Political Monopolies, the winner take all system creates an objectively less democratic political atmosphere through the misrepresentation of the majority through the minority’s vote by a plurality. What I mean by the misrepresentation of the majority is that, in most elections, the majority of voters eligible to vote in said election don’t. The plurality that is responsible for electing a candidate into office, then, is not representative of even the majority of eligible voters, much less the majority of the governed. The contradiction becomes a paradox when you understand that the dilemma is not between two equally inefficient options: Winner-take-all and Proportional Representation.

The European response to winner-take-all is proportional representation which is self-explanatory: Congressional seats are divided according to the proportion of voters they are to numerically represent. This, too, has its own shortfalls. Some critics say that, as opposed to our current system of polarized parties, proportional representation would gridlock politics in semantics (too late) and fragment parties into, you guessed it, factions (too late, again).

But all in the name of increased representation/democracy, right?

The truth  is that the presence of factions lead to a more accurate representation of the electorate, but only by magnifying the political differences between citizens who are supposed to share a national identity. The absence of factions in Congress, however, leads to a false sense of compulsion to vote for on of two parties but a more stable and homogenized public atmosphere. Pick your poison.

The truly discerning reader will scroll to the top and find that one of my initial questions is whether congress is necessary to begin with. When this country was founded, its framers sought to fix a system they considered broken. There aren’t many who will argue that Congress is a well-oiled legislation creation machine, or that it operates remotely well. I doubt the founders would expect a nation of 300 million to remain complacent with such blatant inefficiency. To revolutionize the existing system or create an entirely new one would be a historically accurate continuation of our founders’  radical legacy. To completely reject the notion of government’s limiting constraints of both the individual and the collective, however, may be the most accurate continuation.

 

What I’m reading about today: The Senate’s Interpretation of The Constitution

Fashion App

Have you ever encountered the problem of wanting clothing that doesn’t meet the demands of your budget? Me too. That’s why I have devised an app that could potentially solve this issue (that and the fact that my professor requires it).

Say hello to Copy Catch, the app that identifies the low-priced doppelganger counterpart to high-end clothing items and accessories. Say you find a shirt at Barney’s that costs 350$, using Copy Catch you would post a picture of it, the price, and a link to where it can be purchased online. Once posted in the “Hunt” section of your Copy Catch profile,  a community of bargain hunters would hunt down a look-alike and post a picture of the shirt, it’s price, and a link to where you can purchase it.

The app depends on the power of crowd-sourcing, nothing new to social media driven retail (Groupon, Living social, Woot).

Here are some mock-up screen shots:

Home ScreenA user’s home screen would display a feed where they can browse the finds of those they follow.  Two pictures would be included in every post: one of the high priced item with the price and a link to where it can be bought online and one of the bargain priced item with the same information.

A user will probably follow individuals with a similar style so they may find articles they would be interested in. The feed is also where they can post new hunts; however, it is not where they would check the status of existing hunts. Hunts aren’t limited to expensive clothing in a store, a user may post a piece they see someone wearing on the street, at work, or at a political fundraiser…still a political blog.

Hunt

On the Hunts screen, a user can sort through their unmatched pieces by different categories: brand, price, date, color, shirts, pants, etc. Listed in each category are two pictures: one of the expensive piece with the price and a link to where it can be found online and another with a searching icon and the desired or “Goal” price of the bargain piece. Once the bargain piece is found, the search icon will be replaced with the picture of the new item as well as it’s price and a link to where it can be bought online.

What I’m reading about today: Monetary Policy

 

Political Monopolies

The Kennedys, the Bushs, the Clintons, and the Daleys: only a few of the existing political dynasties in U.S. politics. The ubiquity of these names in the modern political arena is enough to have the founding fathers rolling in their graves, however, the millions of voters who have kept these names in power certainly don’t seem to mind their legacy. The arguably aristocratic presence political dynasties have in American politics was to be explicitly avoided when men like Thomas Jefferson and James Madison wrote this country’s founding documents. The Federalist Papers continuously defend the constitution’s ability to destroy an oligarchy through factions. Federalist #57 argues specifically that term limits are designed for the very purpose of abating an oligarch’s influence.

Image

In the same way that the U.S. government has decided to vilify monopolies in the “free” market, individuals considered “career-politicians” are accused of creating a false dilemma of choice for voters. The government, itself, has restricted the continuous practice of it’s most tenured employees. To a certain extent, one’s experience in politics works against them in getting elected. In no other profession would one worry about having too much experience when applying for a job.

Image

If politics were a business, e.g., a clothing brand,  these legacies would represent the fortune 500 companies of their market –consistently providing an in-demand product at a lucrative value. After reaching a 90% market share, however, their contribution to the economy would suddenly/magically/without reason become destructive and limiting to the market. The millions who chose to bring this company to prominence would be accessory to crime.

Image

At the end of the day, regardless of how effective a leader may be, the best politicians are given the same opportunity to lead as the worst, as far as term limits are concerned. This is something American voters have come to consider fair. At America’s outset, the founders’ fear of political domination by the few urged them toward the ideological glorification of the minority/individual (in the form of The Bill of Rights) and somehow simultaneously led to the concentration of power being held by congress –the collective/majority (in the form of the separation of powers). Seeing as how it was the infringement of the rights of the minority that led to the American revolution, it is not difficult to see their interest in protecting minority rights.

Image

This is not an argument in favor of political dynasties. It is a statement about the complete incompetence of government and its collective efforts to do good anything in the form of a bureaucracy. It is the government telling the individual that they do not know what is best for themselves.It is the very restriction in freedom of the minority that the founders sought to end.

What I’m reading about today: The Legalization of Marijuana

Fashion in Action

http://patdollard.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/paul_cruz1-600x350.jpg

As I write this post, Ted Cruz is staging a psuedo-filibuster on the floor of the Senate. He stands alone in a room (and party) deeply divided. His effort draws attention to the importance of the individual in the American political system. No system is adequate in its representation of the varying interests of the individuals it is designed to embody, however, some systems allow for the aggrandizement of a single person, if only for a short period of time. This spectacle, in the U.S., takes form in the shape of the filibuster. The filibuster, as a political tool, allows for the direct representation of the minority opinion on their own terms for as long as they can hold the floor. While Mr.Cruz isn’t staging a formal filibuster, he is utilizing the same fundamental idea in his public rebellion.

The filibuster has been used in the past during times of radical political change. Take Strom Thurmond’s famous 24 hour filibuster where he tried to single-handedly kill the Civil Rights Act of 1957.

Most recently, Rand Paul’s filibuster drew national attention for his unwavering pursuit of answers surrounding President Obama’s use of drones domestically and against U.S. citizens.

It does not matter what you think about the substance of the politician’s motives in filibustering, as most filibusters are futile from their inception. What one must grasp is the either irrational or commendable (depending on where you stand) amount of power and attention given to the individual or minority by America’s political system.

I have not forgotten that this is partially a fashion blog. I think it very apt that Mr.Cruz chose to wear a blue tie to work this morning. He, a member of the red (Republican) party, wears a blue (Democratic) colored tie. In a room where his own party stands, as a majority, against him, and his blatant critics on the other side of the isle are undoubtedly praying for him to finish his speech A.S.A.P., Mr.Cruz straddles the line between the two and walks alone in both dress and politics. His enigmatic ideology only emphasizes his individuality in a senate creased and aged by party lines. I’m quite positive that no one will remember the color of his tie when referencing this filibuster, but if it is remembered as a stand for the individual against the divided collective, then it  will have been enough.

What I’m reading about today: Ted Cruz’s filibuster

Brooks Brothers Exceptionalism

Brooks Brothers LogoBrooks Brothers brand clothing is what your grandfather wore. It is what possibly his grandfather wore into war. It is who has clothed 39 of the 44 Presidents and remained a staple for elite Ivy-leaguers and wealthy New-England bankers.  Brooks Brothers can safely be considered one of the Great American Brands.

In a constantly changing market, Brooks Brothers has remained consistent in its few commitments: quality, fair price, and excellent service. In a country where opportunity granted due to “legacy” status is vilified, Brooks seems to bypass the American standard for complete equality in access to politicians. Perhaps, Brooks is just the American politician’s brand of choice.  Regardless, Brooks continues to follow tradition, putting coats on the backs of Presidents with ease.

Brooks Brothers JFK

On a very superficial level, Brooks Brothers has achieved a very noble goal through commendable efforts for respectable reasons. On closer inspection, however, Brook’s success has exemplified the fatal flaw in American Exceptionalism and the notion of nationalism as a whole.

Brooks Brothers is hailed, as I have already stated, as one of the great American clothiers. Since it was established in 1818, Brooks has offered conservative clothing at luxury prices to upper class males (and later females). It began,  as any company begins, eager to meet the need in the market. Over time Brooks found its niche among the upper-class and settled into it’s role as a store primarily market toward the affluent few.

Fast forward 195 years and it now offers clothing for all consumers, women included. It is no longer accessible only to the privileged. Anyone living in a metropolitan area can go to their city mall and find a Brooks Brothers shop.  I frequently find Brooks Brothers merchandise at my local thrift store. In recent years, Brooks Brothers has even spread their brand across seas, targeting markets completely unfamiliar with their heritage as an elite clothier.

Brooks Brothers Abraham Lincoln

The parallel between Brooks Brothers’ evolution and the evolution of the idea of American Exceptionalism reveals it’s flaw in their mutual trend of  long-term degradation. Because anyone can wear Brooks Brothers, its status as an elite clothier is diminished. Any major scandals, manufacturing errors, or failed products in their 195 year history  accumulate and eventually tarnish their reputation, either through the comparison of quality in honoring their commitments over time, or an overall change in their brand image. The problem being that no business or brand is perfect. It can not be, as some politicians attempt to be, all things to all people. There is no such thing as an exceptional brand because exceptionalism requires being different where it matters. And in places where it matters –quality, fair price, and exceptional service, there is no such thing as perfection. Although you can be less flawed than another brand, the only way you can be fundamentally different (or exceptional) is to be flawless.

In applying the idea of long-term degradation to the U.S., it is very easy to expose the lack of rationality in American Exceptionalism. The U.S. may have began, as most countries do, seeking to create a system that better represented the needs of the individuals within that new state. Over time, however, history can attest to the failure of Americans to uphold that initial goal. One can’t discount the horrors of America’s influence in it’s wars throughout history. These wars alone should destroy the notion of American Exceptionalism.

The problem is that some believe countries are exceptional because they win wars instead of never going to war in the first place.

Brooks Brothers Bush Sr

At the root of it is nationalism: The idea that 313,900,00 people hold any given truth in common. What is the threshold for being exceptional? If the U.S. sets the bar then I don’t know of a country on earth that isn’t exceptional.

What I’m reading about: Obama’s Position on Iran

The Part Hair Plays

I am not the first to write about the importance of the hair part. I’m not even the first to write about its significance in politics. There are examples here and here of others who recognize the importance of the hair part. But I believe I am the first to apply it’s theory to the first president who literally cannot part his hair.

I realize that this blog has been very micro-oriented so far which is surprising, as I consider myself a big-picture person. But do not get lost in the details on which this post is focused. It all contributes to the larger realm of everyday politics.

According to “research”, it has been determined that politicians are perceived as better leaders when they part their hair on the left side.  The theory also works in the opposite fashion –weaker leaders part their hair on the right side. (Someone tell that to the Reaganites.) The theory also suggests that the side of the part conveys a dominance in that hemisphere of the brain.

Carter is the primary example used by most to describe the hair part theory.

Carter

During the first half of his presidency, Carter parted his hair on the right side or the “weak” side. His first major public appearance with his hair parted on the strong side came in his “Malaise” speech. Though it is and was extremely hard to find inspiration in any part of his time in office, this speech, or more likely his hair part, temporarily increased his approval rating significantly. Two days later he would fire his entire cabinet and lose all of the ground he had gained through his hair part.

In the past, there has been extensive writing on the way a certain political figure parts their hair, most notably the sitting President. This leads to a unique question: if we are to assume that, according to research, those who part their hair on the right side are right-brain oriented and those who part their hair on the left side are left-brain dominant, what are we to assume about those who cannot part their hair at all? (I’m looking at you, Barack.) It doesn’t stop there. Plenty of Presidents didn’t part their hair due to the fact that it wasn’t fashionable in their time.

Martin Van Buren and Eisenhower were bald, Taft and Teddy parted their hair down the middle, and the first six presidents primarily wore wigs.

Van Buren

Though this entire blog may be one elaborate red herring to pull the focus of politics from the issues toward the unessential, I write this to emphasize that politicians ought not to be judged by the part of their hair but by the content of their character. I’m sure MLK is rolling in his grave after that one.

There is a time and place for everything, including fashion oriented political commentary. Learning to distinguish the appropriate time and place to discuss the true issues of politics and knowing when to make fun of Ron Paul’s shoes is essential to coming of age in today’s political atmosphere without being bogged down by its banality and corruption.

What I am reading about today: The Business Cycle

An Introduction

In the world of American politics, there are many things taken into account, when considering a candidate, that may seem especially superficial or shallow to the foreigner. The foreigner may see values, principles, and promises as the foundation of the candidate, The domestic voter, for better or worse, sees the wrinkles in his shirt, the glow behind his smile, and the firmness in his handshake.

I see the brand of his shoes, the silhouette of his suit, and pattern of his tie.

I have created this blog to study where fashion, politics, and ideology meet. In any situation where politics is discussed openly there is likely to be fierce debate. This blog is not your battleground and I am no one’s general.

Look forward to content of all sorts being posted here as I journey with you to discover more about style and American politics.

As a teaser please look at this blog post as things of this nature serve as my inspiration. 

Image