Sunday, October 23, 2016

 

Sunday Reflection: The Corrosion of Politics

I've been mulling over the third presidential debate and some conversations since then with people I respect. For people like me (and there are a lot of us), here is what has been disappointing about this campaign:

-- At its best, there is an aspect of humility and selflessness in our public servants and those who seek office. I didn't see a whit of this in either candidate this week as they talked, or very often at all during the campaign as a whole.

-- Here at the end, the poison in the air has gone beyond bad sportsmanship. The candidates won't shake hands, or even try? Really? Donald Trump questions the integrity of an election not yet held?

-- On the ground, many people seem to have made up their mind based of feelings rather than beliefs or principles: they "hate" one candidate or the other, or don't trust them, or pick up on some personal characteristic like hair (Trump) or clothes (Clinton). Gone are opinions rooted in, say, global warming or tax policy beyond the crudest level. 

-- It is fair and disheartening to expect that regardless of who wins, a plurality of the country will immediately hope that they fail spectacularly. We should never want that, for our leader to fail. Yet, that is what we get from politics rooted in feelings.

Is it fair to say that we have a spiritual crisis on our hands? It sure feels like it. Our nation has a soul, and we seem to be losing contact with it.

Comments:
The so called email scandal is not really a scandal, but the inability of Hillary Clinton to explain what happened about some emails. She did not personally handle the emails that were in issue, the deleted ones. Staff people at State went through and sorted out the personal stuff from the official business stuff. And seven plus years ago, when she went to State, it turns out that her server was more secure that the one at the State department and much easier to use. It is all much ado about nothing.

There is a major analysis of this that has been gleaned from the publicly available FBI report on their investigation.
 
I will vote early this week and I made up my mind a long time ago, however I am more comfortable with my decision the closer we get to November. My beliefs do not align with much of anything that Donald Trump is advocating for. Extreme Vetting? It already takes a Syrian immigrant close to two years to jump through the hoops before allowing them into the country. The Wall - what a joke? Climate science is real. I am Pro-Choice. Throwing illegals out of the country? At present our net immigration is 0. As many people want in as are leaving according to something I heard on NPR this past week.

I am concerned about the Affordable Care Act which aside from the pre-existing condition clause and life time cap clauses needs a lot of work to become affordable. I care about trade; training people to perform jobs for this century as opposed to the early 1900's. Provide people in areas of great job losses with technical training for FREE - so they can get a job; make them understand they may have to relocate to get work; help them relocate is necessary. I care about why police departments haven't taught their officers how to defuse situations. Shooting (killing) the person isn't the answer. Sensible gun reform... The National debt... my list is endless.

I am concerned that when this election is over there are a lot of people on whichever side that will feel very disenfranchised and angry or scared. More angry on one side and more scared on the other side.


 
I just came in from canvasing for Hillary Clinton. I was assigned a street in Detroit that was segregated and struggling with too many unoccupied homes. Most of the folks I met were in a two story apartment building. To a person those who answered their door met me with an enthusiasm for Mrs Clinton and a knowledge of the importance of this election. They were kind and friendly to someone who was awkwardly asking them to pledge their vote. Several asked to volunteer.
They have witnessed a smart black man and a competent woman be attacked and survive in their runs for President. They understand the slanderous process and what it takes to overcome and persevere. They talked of Barack Obama's inability to reach down to help them and they acknowledged Hillary Clinton's mistakes. They have a lot of reasons to be mad as hell, yet I had an afternoon free of anger and vitriol. Win or lose these gentle and good people will not be a threat to our democracy. They are too busy fixing up their cars and getting their kids to school. They don't have time to get even.

There is ugliness in this year's election. If we only stare at it it doesn't go away. We need to remember the good people who are trying to get through another day. They appreciate that governing is hard work and we need more hard workers. We need to elect hard workers and avoid the whiners. Help get out the vote. Life is good.

 
Beautiful, John.
You know how, when we see a man or woman in uniform, we say, "Thank you for your service."? I want to thank you for yours, too. You are a blessing, and so are the people you met today.
 
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I think we are in a political Cold War. That is to say, if what even somewhat centrist voices say is true, each side is responsible for causing the death of innocent people. Abortion, violent storms from global warming left unchecked, civil rights violation and murder by police officers and terrorists, these are just a few examples.

If one can start a revolution because of a lack of representation in King George's court, theoretically, one could take far more radicle action than merely closing down freeways, and keep ones moral center. Theoretically, anyway.

Fortunately, I guess, one of two things is true: (or maybe both) either we are all stuck in a middle-class morass, unwilling to take the radicle steps necessary to protect innocent life, or what our respective cheerleaders say isn't true. "They" aren't murderers, and there is more nuance than the talking heads are willing to admit.

Still, given that violence could be morally justified, radicle steps short of violence that would other wise be unthinkable, (Like refusing to confirm a Supreme Court justice. There is talk of continuing the refusal in perpetuity.) are reasonable given the stakes.

Is it any wonder then there is no talk of the issues. No nuance. "Those people" are murderers, and you don't negotiate with people like that.

As trump himself said, he could shoot a person in broad daylight, and his followers would still vote for him... because Hillary Clinton has personally performed countless abortions, or something.

And the left really isn't much different. According to them, every Republican is a homophobic racist, and you don't negotiate with homophobic racists. Under the right conditions, (i.e. the American Civil War) you kill them.

Here is my point: I'm not condoning violence, I'm saying it is the logical conclusion of the positions we say we hold. We are reaching the logical conclusion of 40 years of culture wars. This has got to stop, or we will breach some imaginary line that keeps wholesale violence at bay, and we won't think twice. It will be a small step given what has come before.

I'm not genuinely worried about large scale violence, yet. But when you think about it, you have stop and think, "why not?" And if it is logical and theoretically morally justifiable, what has to change to keep violence at bay?
 
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