For those who value character and honesty, politics has become increasingly depressing. To put it mildly. There never really was any hope the enthralled and craven Republican members of Congress would defy their cult leader. It’s a pity the Democrats didn’t play their hand better, but at least we got the asterisk in the history book.
And then we get kicked in the nuts by Iowa in what, make no mistake, was a stunning case of incompetence and stupidity. This was an unforced double (or triple) error I’ll rant about more when I learn more details.
One thing is clear: This is going to be a very strange — and no doubt very ugly — 2020 political season.
I’ll start with that I am not a fan of Bernie Sanders. To be blunt, I wish grandpa would stop yelling and go to bed. He has absolutely no business being in this campaign.
Firstly, it is not ageist to not want an 80-year-old man as POTUS. It would also not be ageist to reject a 16-year-old. We can rationally reject extremes without prejudice.
Just consider what the stress of the office does to younger men. (At least those 44 that took it seriously.) Just compare pictures of any modern (serious) President before and after their term.
Secondly, speaking of rejecting extremes, the last thing this country needs right now is another ideologue.
That Sanders doesn’t step out and put his massive support behind a better candidate reveals his ego and ideology. (That many of his supporters likely wouldn’t go along with it scares me.) He’s another POTUS-45: “No one but me can fix it.”
And I’m afraid Elizabeth Warren gets the (very definite) thumbs down from me for also being an ideologue. Why would anyone think that’s a good idea right now?
We’re in this mess, in part, because the country swung too far left and people on the right rebelled. Losing was bad enough, but modern culture tended to either ignore or actively disdain them. Little wonder they are pissed.
And believe me it irks me to have to say this, but right now, until we heal and get our shit together, maybe what we need is a very boring, very conventional, very centrist POTUS.
We should, firstly, heal the country, which necessarily means meeting in the middle. Secondly, we must repair our reputation around the world. Thirdly, focus on infrastructure, education, equality, jobs, and uplift. Once we’re healthy and ticking along, we can think about the fun stuff again.
I do appreciate the more centrist approaches of Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, and Minnesota’s own Amy Klobuchar.
I think Ol’ Joe should put down the torch. (In the first debate, when his age came up, he said he was still going to carry the torch.) Call it what you want, but I want a younger POTUS. (Is it ageist when I’m old? I don’t want an old guy because I know old from the inside.)
Which leaves “Mayor Pete” and “Our Amy” — which I think would make an awesome combined ticket. Two good centrist Midwestern souls, good political experience, and one with a military background.
Whadda ya think? Good ticket?
I’ll write more about politics down the road (as I did in 2016, for all the good it did). For now I want to focus on the socio-political pendulum.
It famously swings back and forth: The “Roaring Twenties” gave way to a conservative 1940s and 1950s. But the pendulum swung back to the hippie revolution of the 1960s and 1970.
So it goes.
As children react to their parents — either rejecting or embracing their ideas — generations also react to the perceived issues and advantages of previous generations.
But why doesn’t the pendulum ever settle down in the middle?
I think it’s because there’s a positive feedback effect.
In the exact middle, it’s balanced on the razor’s edge — pushed and pulled equally by forces on both sides.
If it does deflect to one side, now more people, including those in the center, exist to exert force to pulling it back. The tendency will be for it to overshoot which means more people on the other side exerting force.
One key is that the center tends to act in concert with the losing side — possibly why many independents voted for P45. Generally, the more the pendulum swings, the more force exists to pull it back. Historically, this leads to a society that hovers generally around the middle point.
Another key is that, unlike a real pendulum, there’s no damping on the socio-political pendulum. In the real thing, friction damps out the energy. Without a supply of new energy, the pendulum slows and stops.
But the modern world makes the system chaotic. Small inputs result in wild output swings. The system acts like it has positive feedback, and the pendulum swings can become more and more extreme.
At some point the mechanism probably breaks.
Getting back to ideologues, if you think about a pendulum making extreme swings, those swings tend to meet at the top. (At least until those extreme swings break the thing.)
Minus a few details, there often isn’t much difference between those on the extreme left and those on the extreme right. Both tend to be exclusionary. As centrist, I find them both repellent.
[I likewise see hard-core theists and atheists as essentially the same. Extreme positions have a weird way of wrapping around and almost touching.]
History makes it pretty clear that middle of the road is the stable position for a society. No one totally gets their way (so no one is thrilled), but no one is completely left out, either.
With the needle pushed to either side, someone always gets disenfranchised.
And here’s the thing: If we really truly believe in American values — if we really truly believe in the ideals at the heart of us — then we have to support enfranchising everyone with a good heart as best as we can.
That “good heart” part is important. Citizens — good citizens, anyway —are required to participate. We have no call to enfranchise crooks or cons.
How a society deals with those who refuse to participate says a lot about that society. Options include second chances, attempts to change behaviors, punishment, banishment, or in some cases, even death.
One of our values is “once a citizen always a citizen” so we don’t banish people. (Australia is occupied now, anyway, and we’re not quite ready to banish people to, say, Mars. Or even the Moon.)
Maybe, given our need for infrastructure work of all kinds (from cleaning to construction), we should think about making Community Service more of a thing.
It says a lot about our culture these days that such a blatant con man was able to steal the Presidency. It says even more about us that about a third of us are still deluded about this monster.
Or, if not deluded, so incredibly blindly partisan — so cult enthralled, or maybe so stupidly angry — that they’re willing to shoot their noses off to spite their faces. They’ll tear down America because they don’t like their lot.
At the least, if we want this shit to stop, we — yes, we, all of us — need to pull our heads out of our asses and start participating. We need to stop letting culture make us stupid.
We need to learn to share the road and drive forward.
Stay centered, my friends!