My Last Political Article

There is little doubt I will write about the effects political decisions have on society, or that I will mention politicians, but my relationship with politics has evolved; I expect this to be my last article on American national politics, specifically the 2016 elections.

I write to encourage thought, despite which there appears to be a shortage of thought in the political theater of today. Politics have moved into the space once inhabited by bitter hate-filled arguments. Agreements are not reached, they are forced, during the process redefining “agreement.” The meaning of the word “consensus” has come to be “shouted the loudest.”

There does not appear to be much interest in “leading” as an elected official. “Leadership” is another of those words lacking a meaning, what we used to call “managing” has taken leadership’s place, although I would like to believe even that concept is due for redefinition, managers once were required to demonstrate positive results. The driving force among politicians appears to be “getting elected,” which may at first sound like a simplistic statement. Of course they want to get elected, my issue is that is all they want. At first. Then it changes to “getting re-elected.” The accomplishment most desired while holding an elected position appears to be “creating a legacy.”

A legacy. Something tangible by which to be remembered. Left by someone who spent their life trying to distort reality.

If you have been following this blog, you are aware I intended to leave America a few years ago. One of the many reasons for leaving was to miss the election. I could see a wave of conservatism growing that would overwhelm liberal candidates. I happen to lean towards the conservative point of view myself, but this was destined to be mean spirited, with an ugliness of revenge not seen since Clinton vacated the White House in 2001.

This year’s unpleasantness has not been created by a party unwilling to leave power (yet), but by the all but presumptive winning party. Consider that fact, along with one of the recent quotes from the clown leading in the Republican primary polls, “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and not lose any voters.” The acknowledgement his words and actions are inconsequential to voters could not be more clear.

A bad joke never becomes funny

A bad joke never becomes funny

Perhaps this should have been “The Sign.” The omen which revealed the onset of the apocalypse. The moment the New York Daily News told a joke with a punchline of reality pointing its finger at us and laughing.

The field turned out to be as many as twelve candidates and one rabid dog. At a moment more sober minds looked forward to unity following eight years of blatant divisiveness, one candidate leapt to the lead due to a history of graffiti; writing his name on buildings provided name recognition, and to connect the name to a face he ran before the cameras and insulted everyone he could. He started by attacking our neighbors to the South, then when a respected former prisoner of war defended them against his tirade the prisoner found himself under attack, called a “dummy,” and accused, despite his years in the “Hanoi Hilton,” of not being a war hero because he had been captured.

Typically, this type of behavior would draw a campaign to an end, but we do not live in typical times. With a wide and diverse field of candidates, the aberrant clown stood out from the sober, qualified contenders. Any threat to his name recognition lead was seen as a personal attack, to which he responded with vicious and vile ad hominem attacks.  His popularity grew as he attacked a debate moderator and eventually the entire debate process when his documented misogyny was questioned, then he demonstrated his misogyny by attacking a female candidate. He mocked a reporter with  physical disabilities. His personal attacks on other candidates intensified, but simply insulting his peers did not generate adequate press for this narcissistic ego.

Ignoring the first amendment of the constitution he was vying to uphold, Trump expressed a desire to ban an entire religion from America. In a nation living in fear of terrorism, he painted all Muslims as terrorists, be they refugees, immigrants, or native born citizens. Following terrorist attacks in other countries, he vilified the victim countries, not only France, but also the United Kingdom and Belgium. This is the man a majority of Americans feel should represent them in the theater of international diplomacy.

I am baffled. The same Americans who bemoaned Obama’s cult like following now abandon independent thought to join the Trump goose step.  I expected the worst the population had to offer, democracy is merely mob rule constrained by civility, and America has been proudly rejecting civilized behavior for decades, but the embrace of fascism shocks me. Some of my best friends support and defend Trump, refusing to see the hate he spreads like fertilizer for his campaign; so I have decided, in the same way I did in 2008, to step away from commenting.

Emma voted for Obama, and while I had found him interesting at first, I voted for McCain. We were able to discuss our differences without raised voices. Several other friends were incensed and insulting towards me because I didn’t vote for Obama, some of those friendships ended. A year after the election, Emma and a few of my friends found themselves regretting their votes and publicly renounced their former support. I do not believe there are the quantity of people capable of admitting they were wrong as there was back then.

There is no reason for anyone to suffer from hurt feelings because I don’t agree with their choice of candidate, we will all live with the consequences of the election.

 

 

 

 

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Insulation

One of the qualities Americans seek in a potential President is a connection to the “average Joe”. The other is the ability to deal with complex international affairs beyond the comprehension of the above average Joe. It’s a tough gig.

Take the current occupant. A mixed race man from a broken family is about as average as you can get. Smoked marijuana in college, still smokes cigarettes, overbearing moose of a wife, sounds like Mr. Middle America. Winning the Nobel Prize for international diplomacy while still a first term Senator from Illinois looks awfully good on paper, as do most of his credits. As with most hype, it’s been just enough of a balloon to fly him to reelection before deflating.

That’s a hard act to follow. Americans tend to be clever enough to only get fooled twice in a row. And then twice in a row by the other party, and then again. So 2016 doesn’t look great for the Democrats, it’s the Republicans turn.

The party in power tends to start trying out new candidates as soon as their office holder starts flailing, kind of a “Thanks for voting for us, we’ll do better next time” thing. The opposing party floats its collection of losers, the “Even this idiot is better than who is in office, and we’ll come up with someone better by the election” play.

The intelligent way to operate, the “Let congress do its job and see who actually accomplishes something” approach would have a negative outcome for both parties. Close observation would make it known that not only are there no appropriate candidates for President in Washington, there are very few strong candidates for janitor.

There are perennial candidates, most of whom acknowledge their lack of seriousness. Pat Paulsen was my favorite, Ralph Nader never realized that he was a joke, which was a joke in itself, and Joe Walsh has done everything to get through to his fans that he is only running for Vice President, but they’re…well, they’re Joe Walsh fans.

Joining the list of perennial candidates is another comedian who is grossly underrated for her work, largely because satire is often mistaken for reality.

Hillary Clinton, often jokingly referred to by her stage name “the smartest woman in the world”, is being trotted out to divert attention from the continuing failures of the current administration. She has a following, Henny Youngman kept his career going for seven decades based on one joke, she’s on her fifth decade, and is still getting mileage from “Take my husband, please”.

Her early work has largely been forgotten, getting fired from the committee to impeach Richard Nixon was an early masterpiece, but she really hit her stride in her involvement of covering her husband’s affairs when he was governor of Arkansas. Her brilliant investments in Cattle Futures and Real Estate cemented her reputation as a comedian, so much that Vince Foster and James McDougal allegedly died laughing. Her healthcare proposals certainly had everyone chuckling.

The story about dodging sniper fire was funny enough to get her appointed Secretary of State, but the laughter was waning when she lost it on stage when heckled over Benghazi. Apparently some people felt it did make a difference whether the Department of State abandoned a diplomat and his bodyguards when they called for help. Personally, I think it was because she thought “Sniper fire” meant “Paparazzi” as she had defined it in Bosnia. Some jokes just bomb, what can you say, widows and orphans can be a tough crowd.

Her latest joke is that she hasn’t driven a car since 1996 (although in her 2008 campaign she did say she was driving a hybrid SUV). When it was suggested that someone who had not driven a car in seventeen years might be a little out of touch with the average American, the knee jerk response was “Well, living in New York you don’t need to drive”.

Two thoughts jump to mind. One is “Oh, so that’s why there’s no traffic in New York, no one drives”. The second was “How does being from New York make anyone normal?”.

I guess if you see living in New York as “normal”, you would yourself be a little insulated, unable to see a lifelong history of deceit as being a negative quality. Meanwhile, the other ninety five percent of America is wondering why such people are speaking on national trends, as they clearly don’t understand or speak for the nation.

Over the next few years, as this question gets spun through the political cycle, try to remember the essential point.

Not driving does not mean you are insulated from society. Thinking you are normal when you are clearly not is what insulates you from society.

The politics of obfuscation

I have a love/hate relationship with politics. I enjoy the subtleties, and can appreciate a politician for his skills even when I disagree with his policies. I’ve been actively involved in politics for forty years, starting with working on a campaign for a county seat my friend’s mother was running for. Lately it’s gotten far too depressing in America.

Much of the population seems more vested in an ideology than any idea. Obamacare is defended because it belongs to Obama, not because it will actually benefit anyone. People who it is hurting find ways to spin a defense of the act. People who it will not affect attack it endlessly.

The Obamacare bill passed without being read. Blind support of a new regime. So many people were against it that Republicans replaced many Democrats in congress. So many that the Republicans took control of the House of representatives, and nearly have the Senate. Now that the “people have spoken”, it’s a war, not a Democracy.

Since the only way to slow it down was to cause a “government shutdown” (the seventeenth time since 1980), the fingers started furiously pointing at who was to blame, beginning with the predicted horrors of a “government shutdown”. Oh, don’t worry, any real incentive to reach a compromise, such as suspending pay for members of congress until they could agree on a budget, was never an option.

Although the threat of a shutdown is designed to inspire fear among those that depend on government, all it really does is point out how little we depend on the government, and what a farce the entire charade is. The Washington mall, a collection of statues and monuments, was barricaded. The dozen or so park rangers who worked as guides were laid off, and replaced by police guarding the mall. Expense of maintaining the mall, zero. Money saved by replacing park rangers with federal police, zero. Newsworthiness of barricaded monuments, priceless.

A list of important services that came to a halt was published. While I do agree that shutting off the Panda Cam may cause some hardship, it’s a camera. It costs the same whether the switch is in the on or off position. The Mars rover? A lie. The rover is operated by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at Cal Tech. It is operated by a multinational team, and members of the University staff. Neither is funded by the Federal government. Less than five Federal employees were affected, the Rover keeps on roving. National Parks were closed. Fees from visitors ceased, the trees kept growing, the rocks didn’t even notice. Bills to reopen the parks were voted down by Democrats, who accused the Republicans of being unwilling to negotiate.

Who might be affected? Recipients of welfare may find that they’re less important than keeping congresspersons checks on time. Given enough time, money may run out for them. But we don’t do anything on time, there’s always a last minute solution. We got through Obama’s first five years without a budget, but now of course it’s the Republican’s fault. Even Obamacare is now being blamed on Republicans, because twenty years ago a conservative non-profit organization suggested a similar plan, which was rejected by Democrats and Republicans.

Negotiations were offered, but the administration refused to even discuss them. But the Republicans are blamed for not negotiating.

Belgium got by for over a year without a government. Meanwhile, the rhetoric here compares government programs with the voluntary purchase of luxury items. Yes, that’s the point. It is a voluntary purchase to fund government programs.

I’m going to miss American politics. I’m not going to miss American politicians. I won’t be able to understand the subtleties of a foreign government, which will put me in the same place as countless Americans who are arguing about Washington. The difference is, I don’t talk about things I don’t know about. I’ll have to find a new subject to fill the odd blog, because I don’t want to stand up and shout about my ignorance. In fact, talking about the ignorance of my countrymen is getting exhausting. I joined a conversation the other day about the servers failing on the first day of Obamacare. The comments were based on how it was the Republicans fault, since they had denied funding of server upgrades in Red states. Never mind that it’s a Federal server and that the outages were predominantly in Blue states.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve corrected (and been asked to leave) conservative groups when they spread false information. The thing is, two group admins actually thanked me for providing correct information, no liberal group ever has. Liberals do tend to be better at spelling, or at least they’re clever enough to use spell check. I’ve had to tell conservatives that I only think I agree with them, I couldn’t decipher their writing.

We are Red or Blue. There will continue to be problems until we are Red White and Blue. But where can we vent our anger if we spend our energy on getting along? Oh, maybe we won’t have any anger to vent. That’s worth investigating.

Reboot

Reboot