|Some thoughts on what the American political process has become
||[Oct. 16th, 2016|11:03 am]
Politics in this country has become a zero-sum game: it's not enough that I win, but you MUST lose, and big-time. We've developed scorched-earth standards for what should be reasoned discourse. It used to be that in a negotiation that both sides should NOT come away with everything that they wanted, that there had to be give and take. Neither party should be 100% satisfied, nor should either party be 100% dissatisfied. And this makes it nigh impossible for political parties to cooperate to get things done. They can only work their agenda, and if they have to work on the opposition's agenda, then they must slip as many of their little stuff in the bill as possible.|
People now seem to be incapable of holding two conflicting thoughts in their head and acknowledging that the arguments of the other side may have merit.
I blame clowns like Trump, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the T.E.A. Party, the "Moral Majority" and all their evil spawn, etc. Basically the counter-factual people who were given far too much voice, and thus power, in the national media. Did you know that the Tea Party is an acronym? It stands for Taxed Enough Already. Do they acknowledge that other nations tax their people at higher rates? Of course not, it would be against their narrative. The difference is that in those countries the government actually provides good service to their people with that money and everyone lives a little better and easier and more peacefully.
A documentary film maker went to a Tea Party rally in New Jersey on the Shore just after that hurricane hit a few years ago. She asked them "What do you want?" Answer: "Smaller government! Lower taxes!" So should we cut back on Defense? NO! Cut back on Education? NO! Medicare and Social Security? NO! Foreign development? NO! Veteran's Benefits? NO! The truth is that we don't have absolute control over what the taxes that we pay are used for. If we did, I would dial down the amount of my money that goes to Defense by probably 90% and increase it by a similar amount to social and medical services. But we can't do that. We are a representative democratic republic: a nation of laws where everyone (except the disenfranchised, which is another story) gets a vote, and thus a say in how government money is spent. EVERYONE benefits from some government services, but not necessarily the same ones that you get or want. So you feel put out that they get some of your money that you don't get back. But at the same time, you probably get some services that they don't. For the first time in my 35+ year working career, I'm applying for unemployment benefits. And I hate doing it, but the extra money would be very useful. Me losing my job unexpectedly, plus an equally unexpected $4,000 tax bill earlier this year, made us a paycheck-to-paycheck family. And that sucks. And I've paid in to that fund for my entire work life, so now I'll get some benefit from that.
There is a famous New York politician, not Quomo, maybe Bloomberg, who famously said on television "When I was on unemployment benefits and food stamps, where was the government to help me?" And he said it with a straight face.
The RNC want a time machine that will take the country back to a mythical '50s era, and that isn't going to happen. We move forward in time at a rate of one second per second. That era doesn't exist and never truly did. There were gay people in the '50s, there were drug users and abusers, there were people having extra-marital affairs, there was child and parent abuse, there were any number of things that some people would like to just not think about and stick their fingers in their ears and go LA-LA-LA-LA-LA.
Trump wants to Make America Great Again, a campaign slogan that he lifted from Reagan/Bush, in an announcement where he paid actors to make up a cheering crowd. America is a great country. Period. We're not #1 in anything except military strength, which is not what I'd like to see. He wants manufacturing jobs to come back. The problem is that those jobs started leaving 30 years ago during Saint Reagan's rule. And while many manufacturing jobs have come back to this country, with increases in automation they will never employ as many people in a steel mill or automobile plant as were needed 30 years ago. Those jobs are gone FOREVER, unless you want a Luddite Sabotage revolution destroying computers everywhere. That would work well.
Speaking of the military, obviously the military makes a lot of stupid budget requests for systems that they may or may not need. We all work from imperfect information, so we don't know the full details, we have to accept the information fed to us and research it further if we want more details. But sometimes Congress is the culprit. For example, the Army keeps getting M-1 Abrams battle tanks. And as the new tanks arrive, they are shipped off to a bone yard in the California desert. They have more than they need, including spare parts, but Congress keeps building them because the factories are in someone's district and their lobbyists are very good. The F-35 debacle of an airplane was very cleverly done: the prime contractor put plants in every major Congressional district, so that terminating the plane would directly hit jobs in a number of different districts. Good way to keep a contract alive!
We, as a nation, are screwed. If somehow Trump wins, we'll have four years of a capricious, reality-denying, megalomaniac (possibly sociopath). We can hope that Congress could put the brakes on any legislative agenda that he might hatch, but who knows what Congress will do. The President can do a lot by fiat and can easily destroy relationships with other countries. He may or may not be able to declare war: technically the Constitution (a useful document, much ignored by the Republican candidate) requires the consent of Congress to declare war, but the way Congress granted carte blanche to Bush 2, there's no telling what kind of a mess Trump could get us in. If Hillary gets elected, we'll have the Trump supporters screaming and parroting the Trump line that the election was rigged. A survey of Trump supporters a month or so ago showed that only 12% believed that if Hillary is elected that it would be a fair election. And Trump has further egged them on with lines like "You Second Amendment people have ways of dealing with that", which is a flat-out call for armed insurrection.
We are screwed.
We are just over three weeks from the election, and while there's no doubt that Hillary is ascending, there is still a non-zero chance that Trump could win. The Republicans pulled off something in the 2008/2010 elections called Operation Redmap. In doing so, in addition to taking control of many state legislative houses, they gerrymandered voting districts in to such convoluted geometric shapes as to all but guarantee control of the United States House of Representatives for the next decade. And the Democratic party has shown little effort in trying to put a similar strategy in to play to try to kick out the Republicans and try to bring some sanity back in to district boundaries. So we may be screwed for another decade. The reason why 2010 and 2020 are so important is because that is when the national census takes place and districts are redrawn to account for population changes. The districts are so skewed that there were states that voted 3 to 1 for Obama in the popular vote yet the state went to Romney. It's a true perversion of American politics, and the Republicans are proud that they get to cram their ideology down everyone's throats. Yes, the Democratic party has done similar things in the past, but never to this scale. Meanwhile, a conservative congress has cut the funding to election commissions and the Supreme Court has unlocked unfathomable money to flow in to election funding.
We are so screwed.
So there, in my ever so humble opinion, you have it. I needed to vent, long-form. A friend of mine wrote this morning that she is afraid that everything she writes in email (she has no other social media presence) will be used against her if Trump gets elected. I just hope that doesn't happen. And I apologise in advance for the lack of a cut to hide some of this, I don't remember the code off-hand.