Sunday, October 20, 2019

The Formerly Silent Majority

Throughout my adult life, I have been baffled by people who have supported candidates and political platforms that were contrary to their own self-interests. Why would small business owners and blue collar workers support GOP candidates that facilitate anti-union efforts, corporate raids, unfair corporate advantage, and the exporting of American jobs? Why would people in economically- challenged rural areas support candidates that favor agribusiness over small farmers; and seek to ban abortion when the cost of raising a single child is astronomical and can be devastating to the life of a single woman? And these same candidates seek to squash all government aid designed to assist in the raising of an economically-challenged child.

Reflecting on my own childhood, I began to get some understanding. I was part of a large middle class family. My father was the breadwinner and my mother managed the home. We were not ultra wealthy but we were very comfortable in everyway. Education and travel were taken for granted as long as one maintained a healthy work ethic. All our neighbors, and all my friends, had remarkably similar circumstances. I attended a public middle school and public high school in the late 60's and early 70's. It seems very peculiar now, but there were no African-American students and you could count the number of students of Hispanic decent on one hand, shocking in retrospect, for a public school in Los Angeles.

Fifty years later the dynamics of my neighborhood and my school, over time, have changed broadly. I believe this may not have been the fact for many communities in Red states. And because of this some Americans have not adapted either psychologically or economically to the changing realities. And the change is not fake news, but real. And this change is disconcerting, even frightening for those Americans.

We have had a black president. The LGBT community, something that was never discussed when I was a boy, is achieving recognition and rights. Foreign competition and technology have evaporated well-paying American jobs. Women play a prominent role in the workforce. The wealth gap between the rich and poor is increasing faster than the polar ice caps are melting. And the American middle class is becoming an endangered specie.

America became great with the rise of a middleclass, beginning with the Industrial Revolution typified by Henry Ford and innovation of interchangeable parts, and solidified by the post World War II boom when America provided for the world. And with globalization and the decline of the middleclass, America is waning.

I didn't vote for Trump. In fact I haven't voted for a GOP candidate since Lowell Wicker ran for governor in Connecticut in 1990. But I can see why many people did. GOP candidates tend to be loud and brazen and angry. They symbolize masculinity and a return to the "better" past. They appeal to the machinist who has lost his job and cannot provide for his family and the small farmer who has just faced foreclosure. They appeal to the veteran in Thurmond, WV whose kids can't find a job. And they appeal to all the Archie Bunker types who feel emasculated by the election of a gay city councilman.

The GOP has become the party of depraved, indifferent, conmen and criminals. The greatest trick Trump ever pulled, along with the rest of the Republicans, is convincing the formerly silent majority that he would do something for them.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Will Wishful Thinking Destroy the Dems in 2020?

The recent Democratic debate and follow-up discussions on cable television, have been very critical of the Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden. A thinking person must acknowledge that the understandings, values, and truths of an individual evolve over the course of a person's life through experience. Throughout American history, our perceptions and understandings have changed. And this is reflected in our interpretation of the Constitution, and the laws we enact. Change and the quest for our better angels is never instantaneous. It is a process that requires hard work and occurs over time.

I was a college student at Wesleyan University in the 1970's. At that time, it was almost impossible for anyone to be more politically correct. I entered the university enamored with the teachings of Karl Marx. I knew intellectuals who viewed the USSR as the promised land. Over the course of my studies, the logical flaws in the political philosophy of Karl Marx became apparent. Marx presupposed that human nature could be altered within the constructs of a political system. He believed that people maturated in such a system and left to their own devices, would act in the interests of the society, the greater good, and "ignore" their complex, self-centered, instinctual nature.

Social democracy, and the social programs in our country, are far different from the political system that Marx fashioned. Many Americans have no understanding of this fact. And this represents a major problem for Democrats, especially those on the far left. Perhaps if we renamed it Equacap it would be met with more open-mindedness in rural America.

The socialism that is practiced in America, which neither Trump nor ultra-conservatives object to when it benefits them, seems to work well with capitalism. It creates a compromise that transcends both and benefits both. The 2008 bailouts of the banks and automakers are prima facia evidence that this is truth.

Politics is the art of the possible. In the 40 years since I graduated, there have been significant changes in American life. The demographics of our country have and are continuing to change. We have taken a bite from the apple in the garden of Silicon Valley. And technology plays a dominant role in our lives. These realities, for obvious and complex reasons, have disconcerted a significant segment of America. And this is one of the reasons we have a jackass in the White House.

Let us not let our self-centered, instinctual nature, despite the fact that it is clearly aligned with the Age of Enlightenment philosophies, righteous truth, human decency, and the traditions of Christian charity and mercy, give the beast four more years.