It was the premise of the Politico article that drew me in. It was the claim that politics of 2030 would be shaped by the ghastly presidential election of 2016. There would be big changes to come.
Given the tumult of the times, I don’t doubt that one bit. The contest between The Hillary and The Donald, and all the odd and shifting v*ter alignments and policy preferences around it, is bound to reverberate into the future. It’s something I’ve thought a lot about. I wondered if others were coming to similar conclusions. So I read.
And read. It’s quite a long article.
And I read. Only to discover that the author, the highly respected Michael Lind, believes that the politics of 2030 will look … pretty much like the politics of right this minute. Same interest groups that are now developing. Similar alliances. Further shifts based tidily on shifts we’re already seeing. That’ll be the big change sparked by this election; not much will change except around the edges.
Which is bushwah.
Aside from the fact that nobody knows what the years will bring — a meteor strike, a military coup, a dictatorship, a landing by aliens, or even just a decade or two of sheer boredom — that’s simply not the way trends work. Monkeywrenches get thrown in. The unexpected has to be expected.
I have a friend who froths with rage and grief that so many people in the gun-rights community enthusiastically support Trump.
She can probably understand those who say they’ll hold their nose and v*te for him because well, at least he’s not Hillary. But she’s devastated by the ones who say, “Yeah, baby. Trump. He’s my man! He’s gonna get rid of gun-free zones, appoint conservative Supreme Court justices, and kick D.C. butt!”
She’s outraged by their naiveté (which is not the word she’d use, BTW) and she’s grieving for whatever might be left of the republic.
But you know, it’s a lot easier, and better on the digestion, when you accept that the much-vaunted republic was toast a long, long time ago.
Life is not only happier, but more productive, when you accept you’re doooomed (politically, at least) and go about living a free life in spite of it all.
Lind took a good question, extrapolated from the present, and came up with a respectable, but uncreative answer. This is what’s more likely:
The politics and policies of 2030 will be influenced by the presidential election of 2016. No doubt about it.
Observing the impugnity of the corrupt and powerful, more corrupt power seekers will push and shove solely to serve themselves as president of the U.S.
Seeing the brawl of mediocrities that politics has become, fewer decent people will even be remotely tempted to place themselves into that fray.
Seeing that nobody gives a damn any more whether a candidate is lying, candidates will lie bigger and bolder than they do now. Hey, it works!
Seeing how money and pull matter, fewer and fewer people will determine who runs, who gets funded, and who wins. New laws will pretend to curb this, but surprisingly each new law will actually hand more power to the already-powerful.
Interest groups will clamor for ever more money, attention, and privilege and will tear at the remaining flesh and bones of the country like rabid jackels.
Seeing that “stroke of the pen, law of the land” works so well, fewer and fewer presidents will bother even paying lip service to little things like laws and constitutions. (Yes, you think that’s already happening now but you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.) Congress will posture and foam at the mouth — and make no real resistance.
There will be exceptions. Reformist candidates will occasionally rise to the top. Intelligence and dignity will sometimes prevail, as v*ters weary of the growing trash heap of terrible politicians. Congress will make efforts to retake its authority. But the reformers will make, at best, a temporary difference, if any. The long-term trend will be downward.
Decent people will get madder and madder, no matter how many phony efforts are made to placate them. More v*ters will drop out. Others will become more desperate and will v*te for worse and more dangerous candidates as time goes on.
Others will … go Outlaw.
The empire will fall.
We will not always get the presidential equivalent of Caligula or Nero. The government will be ridden by a parade of mediocrities whose names and deeds will be lost to history — each one doing his, her, or its bit to make matters just a little, teeny bit worse.
But that’s all right. We will live around them
We who’ve been around long enough not to be taken in by convenient political lies might wonder how others can be so blind and trusting.
Abraham Lincoln may or may not have said, “You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” But he knew very well how you could fool a foolish electorate. Generations of school children, to this very day, learn that “Lincoln freed the slaves.” Which is an obvious, and easily debunked claim, and one that Lincoln himself perpetrated and perpetuated. But try to debunk that claim, even 160-some years later and the typical Trump or Hillary v*ter (or even good, patriotic non-v*ter schooled by gummint) will think you’re a nutcase. Or in contemp-speak, “a hater.”
The bottom-line truth is that if you control government, you can always fool enough of the people to get them to fight your wars, obey your diktats, hate those you want hated, hand over a huge portion of their wages to you, and trust everything you say even when they have abundant reason to know you’re a chronic liar.
And that, too, is a trend that’s only going to increase.
So for God’s sake, don’t bother trying to save the people who think that whatever The Hillary or The Donald proclaimed yesterday is exactly as true, or even truer, than the prenicious (but opposite) nonsense they proclaimed the day before. And don’t get yourself a migraine worrying about such folks.
They are beyond your help.
Reach out to the ones you see falling away from all that. Give a hand to the ones whose eyes are opening. Show them there’s a different course than cynicism and despair. Welcome as many as can be welcomed into the Outlaw Tribe.
We are the tribe that will survive the fall. The tribe without illusions and false hopes. The tribe with the wit to see reality and use what we know to prevail.