In early November, and again in two years, we will face profoundly important elections at every level of government. I’m particularly concerned about the national elections, but I know those national candidates arise from state and local elections including primaries. The financial mega-backers of today’s politicians understand the candidate supply line very well. They know how it works. They have been laying their candidates’ tracks for years. It is an easy business plan to write. While we are out mowing our lawns, people with a lot of money are deciding what our candidate options will be on election day.
The coming elections are not about the traditional Republican and Democratic parties. Judged by their historic principles, neither of those parties still exists. Nowadays, a critical mass of politicians in each of those nominal parties is bought by essentially the same fraternity of brokers. Those candidates attain and keep their elected positions by accommodating the interests of their financial sponsors. The politicians may claim that they are independent and that they hold the same political beliefs as their financial backers; but in simple terms of cause and effect, the money is in the driver’s seat. The politicians don’t tell the money what to do or else: the money tells the politicians what to do or else. The brokers and their elected officials also know how to manipulate our voting behavior. They know that scare tactics and disinformation work.
But what’s the big deal? Are we not still able to buy more stuff and pursue our pleasurable activities? I think the most profound risk is that while we busy ourselves with our personal lives, the United States may become a de facto authoritarian state. That ancient, primitive form of government, the tool of kings and warlords, can take hold over time without anyone intentionally choosing it. Authoritarian rule is the default system that lies at the bottom of the slippery slope of politics. It is the lowest form of government, and huge masses of people have struggled for centuries to overcome it. Authoritarianism is easy to understand. Do as you’re told, or get hurt.
There are many small signs of our downward slide toward authoritarianism and a few large signs. We voters are supposed to choose our representatives; but instead, gerrymandering enables the representatives to choose their voters. Political operators find ways to deter large numbers of our citizens from voting. Every day some of our politicians attack our free press, demean our system of justice, and try to politicize the courts. Many of their fellow politicians become complicit by their silence. We may think America is a model of democracy, but it is now ranked far down the list of democracies worldwide.
For the mega-brokers who are driven by profit rather than by political philosophy, authoritarian rule may be the most practical and predictable form of government for them to make the most money in the short term. (And, by the way, I suspect they would enjoy having even more power over other people.) At the same time, I think many Americans would prefer an authoritarian regime if it would impose their views on everyone else. Since their beliefs cannot compete successfully in a democracy’s open marketplace of ideas, those people would prefer a powerful ruler who would force their ways upon the rest of us.
Authoritarianism is a very old human story, and history has repeatedly shown us the results. One usual result is a sharply skewed distribution of wealth with a very small percentage of rich people and a huge percentage of poor people. Another usual result is the persecution of people who in some way are not like the ruling group. Another usual result of authoritarian government is the growing civil unrest that I think arises from an irrepressible human will to justice.
By comparison, democracy appears to be the surest path of human progress in the long run although that progress may be slow, erratic, and inefficient, especially if viewed from a business perspective. I think democracies also tend to keep most authoritarian sociopaths in check. The Framers of our Constitution launched a grand and ongoing experiment in democracy. We have inherited that ongoing experiment, and, after more than two hundred years, it could collapse while in our care. Failure requires only that we stop working at it.
This blog is part of my tiny personal effort to support democracy. While I recognize that this blog and my renewed political efforts may prove useless, I’ve decided that they are my most appropriate response to our national situation. Please consider that all we ever have for sure is our choice of our most appropriate response to a situation. Family, friends, possessions, health, knowledge, life itself can be taken from each of us; but while we are yet aware, are yet human, we still have at every moment our choice of our most appropriate response to our situation. What is your most appropriate response to our country’s current political situation? Regardless of what you think of the rest of this blog, that is the ultimate take-away question. What is your most appropriate response to this situation?
In future posts, I plan to write about some of the forces that are profoundly affecting us and future generations. Although my personal values may show between the lines, the purpose of this blog is not to criticize or to pronounce judgments. The purpose of this blog is to explain how things work. When I want to add my recommendations on some topic, I’ll place them in a separate, labelled section of the post that can be easily found or ignored.
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In the next post, we will get down to business. In the post after that one, I’ll explain how to make lots of money. Later, we’ll confront some of the fallacious forms of argumentation that continually assault us online and in the news. Other topics in the hopper are forms of government, health care, comparing people, what I call money suckers, and government regulations that some people love to hate. Tune in for those and other topics amidst the political whirlwind that will descend upon us in the coming months. Maybe you won’t find any new ideas in this blog, but maybe some old ideas will be presented in a new way. Maybe we will recognize some comedy in our national life, but it is not humor that compels me to launch this blog.
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