The US Presidential Election: Taking Shelter From the Impending Storm… In An Outhouse.
THE PILES OF BULL CHIPS ARE GROWING DAILY, AND SIT WAITING FOR SOMEONE TO HIT THEM WITH A FAN...
Preface: This is the 18th installment of this series by Jim Murray and me. When we first started the series on LinkedIn, we intended among other things to show that it was possible to have lively discussion and disagreement, without lasting acrimony. And we continue the effort as part of our contribution to the well-being of the digital publishing community. But all things change, and we've changed venues to beBee — where we again hope to make a contribution to the development of robust intellectual engagement, and to the mitigation of what I call Insipidipity, the literary equivalent to Muzak.
Both Jim and I publish on different days parallel versions of each installment, and I continue to do the same on LinkedIn, for those many followers who remain there. Be warned that our exchanges on He Said He Said are for intellectual adults, and therefore neither Jim, nor I mince words or pussy-foot around delicate topics. However, if you find what you read here worthwhile, let us know. And if you disagree with what one or both of us says, be sure to comment. For whether you agree or disagree, intellectual engagement is our primary objective here.
JIM: I wrote a little post on BeBee on Monday announcing that Bernie Sanders would be speaking at the Democratic National Convention that night It created a bit of controversy. Or let me rephrase that, the comments grew into a bit of controversy, because the post itself was quite benign.
All I did was point out that Bernie has to be pretty gracious to be showing up at all and supporting Clinton after getting screwed over the way he did by the party.
I know you saw it, because you were there with bells on, even going so far as to point out that one of the respondents may very well have been a Republican plant, subtly encouraging Bernie followers to abstain from voting, thereby splitting the vote and maybe handing the election to Trump.
A lot of the other comments had to do with choosing between the lesser of two evils in this election. So my question to you, Mr. Yankee Boat Boy, is how in the hell did your beloved country end up painting themselves in a corner like this?
Left to my own devices, words like hubris or apathy come to mind, but I know, or at least hope, there has to be more than that. Right?
PHIL: For the record, I am breaking a long-standing resolution of mine not to engage in political discussion on social media. I’ve always felt that, for the most part, the benefit/cost ratio of doing so is too low to make it worthwhile. However, this is an extraordinary time in U.S. politics, one that is, to my mind, so crucial to the future as to render silence impossible.
This is likely to be not only a lively discussion, but a lengthy one. So, let’s get one thing straight, right at the beginning. If the U.S. system were a parliamentary democracy, the Democrats and the other splinter parties, as well as groups of centrist Republicans would be scrambling to create a coalition government, that would rule by majority, and freeze the likes of Trump out.
However, the U.S. is not a parliamentary democracy, but rather a representative republic, whose president is effectively elected by plurality to govern. And so, no matter if a majority opposes Trump’s election, should he garner a majority of electoral votes, he will win.
Which is why I guarantee there are now Trump-camp agents provocateur all over social media encouraging Sanders supporters to refuse to abide by Sanders' explicit request to support the Democratic ticket, and instead “vote their consciences”.
Bull chips and poppycock! The Trump strategy is going to be to split the Democrat party vote, and win by a plurality. And, of course, if it can convince sufficient numbers of Sanders supporters to simply stay home on election day, they can even make it appear as though Trump won by a majority. Make no mistake about it.
I have a message for all you genX-ers and genY-ers and WTF-ers out there making noise about “voting your consciences” or not voting at all:
There is conscience in protest marching. There is conscience in protest striking and occupying, and other forms of civil disobedience. There is conscience in “pamphleteering”, and in writing and speaking to the body politic all across social media. There is even conscience in self-exile to avoid participating in, and paying taxes to a corrupt and moribund political system. But, there is no conscience when it comes to voting (or not voting) in elections. There is only winning.
All that splitting the vote or not voting accomplishes is to ensure that the dark side wins, and thereby ends up governing.
And that, my friends of unmitigated principle, will be on your conscience!
JIM: I understand what you are saying about the differences between Canada’s democracy and whatever appears to be calling itself that in the US today.
What I don’t understand is, having been following this closely, is just how Trump, and I’m really just talking on a rational basis here, has managed to eliminate 15 or 16 other competitors and gain the amount of support he has, through the hyperbolic rhetoric that spews from him, and through name calling and the overtly racial and misogynist overtones of his speeches.
I’m serious now, looking at this as a rational humanoid, I am completely mystified by what to me appears to be mass stupidity on the part of his followers. This guy is an intellectual primate, and has no idea of how the world really works.
He has never offered anything in the way of a policy. He has never offered anything in the way of a promise, other than to build a wall. He borrowed money from his own company to finance his primary campaign and has made about $30,000,000 for just showing up. He is involved in over 3000 lawsuits mostly from screwing his own workers and sub-contractors over. Women are coming forward with rape allegations against him. He doesn’t support the American worker, having just tried to bust a union in Las Vegas. And now prominent media people like George Will are investigating Trump for taking money bribe money from Russia, which is evidently why he won’t release his tax returns.
And yet, here he stands, the worst threat to democracy that the US has maybe ever experienced in modern times, hated by every Muslim on the planet, a large monkey wrench in the gears of the Republican party which, because of him is on the verge of implosion, offering nothing of substance to back up his abstract promise to “Make American Great Again”
Honestly Phil, what’s really causing this to happen? I mean if the people who follow Trump really wanted to make a change, why the hell didn’t they flock to Bernie Sanders, who in my opinion is light years ahead of Trump in his intellect and actual ability to get things done?
Is there something in the water down there? Or are people just getting dumber?
PHIL: Yea, there must be something in the water, because whether or not people are getting dumber, they are acting dumber — especially centrist politicians in the Republican party.
Donald Trump and his camp sucker-punched the Republican party. First, he took advantage of what I would call the Bullying Syndrome (“BS” for short). Like the Stockholm Syndrome, the BS accrues to the victims of bullying attacks, whereby they keep their heads low, hoping that the bully will go pick on someone other than them.
If you remember, Trump made a special effort to denigrate not only the current administration, not only Washington insiders, and not only presidential contenders from the Democratic party, but members of his own party, particularly most of those who were also vying for the nomination. And he was exceptionally vicious at times, no doubt often as the result of shooting for big headlines, but more than just occasionally as part of a campaign to nurture the BS.
Each of the competing candidates thought, as I see it, there was no percentage in crossing words with Trump. That the best which could be accomplished was to draw more attention what he saying about them. That the best course of action was to simply not respond.
Kind of like the advice you get on social media platforms concerning how to deal with trolls. And pretty much like the advice propounded by Neville Chamberlain as to how to deal with Hitler.
Well guess what: BS doesn’t work. And by the time the centrist members of the Republican party realized that it didn't, and tried vainly to raise a counter-attack, it was too little too late.
Without strong voices in opposition, Trump has used shallow slogans, lacking any substantive backup, to capture the minds and hearts of those who want desperately to understand our contemporary world, but can’t. Many of these people are tired of having Washington politicians — and grant-supported academic “experts” — tell them it is all too difficult for the rabble to understand. And so have taken to Trump’s simplistic jingoism like people dying of thirst in the desert take to finding an oasis.
The sad thing about all of this is that Bernie Sanders, who really gets the issues surrounding social and economic justice, has offered what the centrist Republicans could have, but didn’t because of partisan politics. Namely, a discussion of the problems without the presumption that they are too complex for the ordinary, albeit reasonably educated person to understand. With the result that Trump has captured the support of a dangerously dedicated and vocal minority, who mistake shallowness of thought for clarity.
JIM: Mistaking shallowness of thought for clarity… But also deliberately muddying the waters between facts and feelings.
Last night I saw a clip on John Oliver’s outstanding satire Last Week Tonight, where he shows some network Talking Head interviewing Newt Gingrich, who by the way, bears a striking resemblance to Mr Toad of Toad Hall in Wind In The Willows
The Talking Head was trying to explain to Mr Toad that the violent crime rate in the country as whole was down year over year. She even had a little chart to show him. But Mr Toad would have none of that, explaining that ‘the people don’t feel safe’.
After a bit of futile arguing the Talking Head, who undoubtedly wanted to squash Mr Toad like a bug (pardon the mixed metaphor) finally gave up. Mr Toad, now left with the final word, stated emphatically, “That may be a fact but I will go with feelings and you can have the theorists.”
John Oliver was pissed… “Did you hear that? He just brought a feeling to a fact fight!”
This is pretty mind-boggling ignorance in someone who is responsible for making laws that govern people. We could go on but, I think the point has been made.
Also, to Phil’s credit, because he spotted it early on, right here on one of my posts:It has now been reported a couple of times that there are agents from the Trump camp trying, through comments on politically oriented posts, to get disaffected Sanders supporters to stay home or vote for not just Trump, but for any splinter candidate, the Libertarians, the Green Party, anyone other than Clinton. Because Trump knows that every vote not cast for Clinton, is essentially a vote for him. Man, if only he would use his power for good.
In closing I would say there are two key points that occur to me:
Point 1. Trump’s vagueness and bullying tactics have now infected almost the entire Republican party. Now everybody is afraid to confront the bully and as a consequence they have all become enslaved to the will of the lunatic, a la your BS theory. Remind you of anything? This is also known as the beginning of fascism.
Point 2. These same, dopey, brainwashed, bullied, wimp politicians are now unabashedly spouting the dumbest and most ignorant crap because they know that their audience will believe it.
Why? Well that’s the big question isn’t it? Maybe we’re having trouble answering it because we either don’t want to know why or that there is no answer.
Or maybe the answer lies in a lyric from The Boxer by Simon and Garfunkle
I am just a poor boy
Though my story's seldom told,
I have squandered my resistance
For a pocketful of mumbles,
Such are promises
All lies and jest
Still, a man hears what he wants to hear
And disregards the rest.
For intelligent, thinking people, this is a sadness almost beyond belief. People know what Trump is. People know that he only serves his own personal agenda. People have to know that he has actually spent a year blowing smoke up everybody’s kil, and yet here is a real threat to the future of a great country.
Everybody’s in the outhouse. Hope the shit storm doesn’t hit them. But man…I dunno.
Afterword: JimMurray can, and always will speak for himself. However, you are free to post comments directed to either Jim or me, on either his post of HSHS No. 18, or mine. You'll always get an answer one way or the other.
Author's notes: If you'd like to receive notifications of my writings on a regular basis, click the [FOLLOW] button on my beBee archive page. As a writer-friend of mine says, you can always change your mind later.
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About me, Phil Friedman: With 30 some years background in the marine industry, I've worn numerous hats — as a yacht designer, boat builder, marine operations and business manager, marine industry consultant, marine marketing and communications specialist, yachting magazine writer and editor, yacht surveyor, and marine industry educator. I am also trained and experienced in interest-based negotiation and mediation. In a previous life, I taught logic and philosophy at university.
The (optional-to-read) pitch: As a professional writer, editor, university educator, and speaker, with more than 1,000 print and digital publications, I've recently launched an online program for enhancing your expository writing: learn2engage — With Confidence. My mission is to help writers and would-be writers improve the clarity of their thought, master the logic of discussion, and strengthen their ability to deal with disagreement.
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