One prominent theme came out of the 2016 election – voters are ready for change. A near majority was excited enough by the idea to actually vote for a narcissist with no rational plan at all. Are voters simply stupid?
In a democracy, you always get the government you deserve. No matter how you may feel about that, it remains true that Vox Populi, Vox Dei – the voice of the people is the voice of God, a sentiment first developed by radical Whig reformers in Scotland 300 years ago.
For those of you who favor the short version, skipping a journey through history, voters aren’t stupid. They may be badly informed and even more badly led, but they are onto something. America is clearly adrift. The essential guiding philosophy is obvious, given a little distance provided by history and the experience of hungrier developing nations. But in the bizzy here and now, what does that mean in terms of politics?
The rapid pace of change has created a world filled with excitement and energy. At the same time, it’s created a world filled with anxiety and fear. At the intersection of both of these is hatred, distrust, disrespect, and every other force you can think of which can divide people. Black and white, male and female, western and eastern, old and young, liberal and conservative, gay and straight – pick a box, put yourself in it, and make good use of that box to separate yourself from everyone else who has somehow come to be “different”.
What made all of this happen? What drives everything to fly around at a pace which confuses and separates is the driving force of our time: technology. That one simple word is the savior and excuse all at the same time. But what is it, really?
It was a dark and stormy night …
Ten years ago, I started Barataria with that perfectly awful line. It was indeed a cold, dark evening in April filled with a sense of anxiety. Where has all this gone in ten years? You be the judge.
The Senate has changed the way democracy operates in the United States. Consensus, established by the Founding Fathers as a requirement for a free and united people, has been replaced by majority rule. The traditions which made this one of many have been gradually decaying, so the vote is essentially a formality in many ways.
It is also a fitting way to mark the end of the American Century.
As we celebrate a decade of Barataria, two trends stand out. The first is the three years down followed by seven years up for the economy, a slow transformational recovery which still leaves far too many behind. The second trend is the one which truly made the other one painful, a decade long descent into disunity, indecency, and idiocy.
Continuing the look back over the first decade of Barataria, this piece is from April 2007. It outlines a disease which has since consumed us – an inability to accept the need to work things out.
“Politics” is a dirty word.
A common phrase in our world is that we “need to keep politics out” of a given situation. It seems to come from a noble intent, which is the desire to make rational decisions that are best for everyone. But what is it that we are trying to keep out?
Before the circus came to town, it was Barataria’s position that we’d all be wise to ignore it as much as we possibly can. Obviously, we don’t heed our own advice.
Then again, things are happening which may point right at the heart of the problem – the flurry of Washingtoonia that actually winds up making a difference. In the great three ring circus of government it’s time to keep your eyes firmly on the center ring – and whether the supposedly tamed bear eats the Ringmaster.
Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. I have said many times that the best thing to do with President Trump is to ignore his antics. His address to Congress is the chance to redeem it all and make something happen.
In keeping with what passes for press today, here is my live commentary.