Thursday, February 25, 2016

Political Memory

Sorry for not posting for so long. I’ve been pre-occupied with pressing personal matters.

There are many variations on [Irish author/statesman] Edmund Burke’s famous (and wise) quotation, “Those who don't know history are destined to repeat it.” What I find more discouraging as we slog through our current presidential campaign, is that those who don’t properly understand the present and very recent past are destined to make really bad decisions in the near future. But I concede we’re low on good options.

Thanks to our commercially corrupt, 24/7/365 television (and Internet) news cycle, political campaigns have become endless, boring reality shows and poll-driven horse races – and we wonder why the U.S. has the lowest percentage of voting citizenry among all industrial, “First World” nations! Maybe if our campaigns took six months (preferably three) instead of two years (!) and our media spoke truth to both power and the powerless, people en mass would think smarter, be better (and truthfully) informed, and therefore more motivated to vote. (Getting rid of the Electoral College might help too.)

I’m just a smart person and a political animal, not a professional pundit. But I’m amazed by what I hear the official pundits do say and don’t say.

For example, the media talks about President Obama as if he were just another president – rather than the first black president. I’m an [old school] liberal, but it was always my ardent wish that the first black president would be a very light-skinned Republican so that White America might possibly get used to the idea. Instead, we got a darker-skinned Democrat who campaigned as a progressive, then governed like a centrist in an effort to get White Government to work with him, but he was and still is being blocked, derided and shockingly disrespected at every turn.

Conservative white people have been saying that because a black man was elected twice, it shows that racism is a thing of the past. But the truth is, Obama’s presidency has actually brought this country’s entrenched, systemic racism gushing to the surface. This is not the President’s fault, but it is the truth. If you haven’t noticed that…well, the best I can say is you haven’t been paying attention.

Now, we’re confronted with the very real possibility of a completely unqualified, angry, uncouth white bully on the Republican side (Trump or Cruz, take your pick) and a choice between a male Socialist Jew and a female old-school politician on the Democratic side.

Young people and weary Baby Boomers love Bernie – who is unquestionably saying all the right things about all the wrong things going on in this country. But even if he manages to get the candidacy and then win the election (both of which are highly unlikely because Americans think Democratic Socialism is the same as Communism and anti-Semitism is still as alive and well as racism), he’ll be given the Obama treatment and barely be able to function.

If  Hillary – who a lot of people just plain dislike and distrust – wins the day, she’ll probably stand a better chance of functioning, even though she’s a woman, because she’s tough, knows how to play the game with the boys, and knows where a few crucial political bodies are buried. But she too will be thwarted wherever/whenever possible and the best we’re likely to end up with is essentially the status quo. (Personally I'm for Bernie but I'm voting for Hillary because I think she has the best chance to win and be somewhat effective.)

Believe me when I tell you that I wish with all my heart I could feel more positive about this election. But what I’m seeing is an oligarchy in power, an angry barely-working-class that used to be a reasonably contented middle class, and a déjà vu of my naive 60s youth that only led to Nixon, Reagan, social/political/economic collapse and entirely too much religion and abuse of technology being brought into what, Constitutionally, should be a secular, human system. I’m very mad, very sad, and more than a little afraid.

Aren’t you glad I’m back?!

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