12 November 2016

No Mandate for Evil

To only slightly modify Mr Queen's objection:

Party leaders, you have failed this polity.

And that was the real problem with this election, from the top of the ticket all the way to the bottom.

There's a necessary generational shift in politics — it's a function of demographics. Each generation, however, tries too damned hard to hold onto power, refusing to relinquish it to the next one. Consider, for example, the problem with my generation — the Baby Boomers. The presidency passed to a 'boomer in 1992, and will remain in the hands of a 'boomer until at least 2020. Compare that twenty-eight-year duration to the eighteen-year-duration of the 'boom itself... and then remember that a substantial number of the power brokers among the 'boomer "generation" were born during its first half-dozen years (including both major-party presidential candidates!), so even within the generation the power brokers skew old. And that has led directly to an unwillingness — perhaps even inability — to either listen to or let go in favor of those uppity kids... many of whom are pushing fifty and have adult- or nearly-adult children of their own.

Thread One: Women's "issues" most relevant to a seventy-year-old white daughter of privilege and machine politics are not the same as those most relevant to a woman in her twenties or thirties, and therefore probably have different solutions and different priorities. There's some overlap, but not congruence. What passed for a strategy by the Jackasses pretended that there were no distinctions, and that Hillary could also "represent" immigrant communities, etc.

Thread Two: Business "issues" most relevant to a seventy-year-old slumlord/real-estate developer who inherited or was otherwise gifted substantial initial capital with no need for repayment (who has had virtually no longterm net success in anything not directly related to real estate, as reflected in the multiple bankruptcies) are not the same as those most relevant to a startup entrepreneur, regardless of that entrepreneur's business line or education or immigration status or anything else, and therefore probably have different solutions and different priorities. There's some overlap, but not congruence. What passed for a strategy by the Heffalumps pretended that there were no distinctions, and that The Donald could also "represent" high-school-educated labor being priced out of the only jobs they knew how to perform by cheaper foreign labor, etc.

Thread Three: The established "third parties" were no better. For example, the Greens pretended (having learned nothing from the Heffalumps) that an antiscience — and specifically antivaccine-friendly — "doctor" could represent views on things like defense policy and civil rights with any predictability. The Libertarians were, if anything, worse, putting forth an ignoramus on world affairs (that had already made its appearance in "debates" during primary season) for the most-important world affairs post anywhere.

The key point is that the grey-hair gatekeepers imposed their idea of gravitas... meaning members of my g-g-generation, or their close-in-age protegés. And more to the point, seldom listening to people who aren't in my g-g-generation — or to "class traitors" (like me) who are part of that g-g-generation and pleading with them to do so. (This is one of the many reasons that I will have nothing to do with the AARP. Ever.) Instead, all three threads ended up mired in factionalism. That's what the voting behavior represented. It's also the most compelling explanation for the continued state of politics below the national level: Just say "Daley" or "Madigan" or "Thompson" to anyone in Chicago with political awareness greater than that of the average snail darter (and Chicago is far from unique, just more overt).

Leaving aside for the moment whether our Constitution was imperfectly designed to denigrate factionalism (if nothing else, the Attainder Clause, Art. I § 9, should be a big hint that this was at least under consideration) — thereby making proponents of factionalism unfaithful to the designs of the founders — ask yourself a question that the parties clearly did not:

When the electorate cares more about issues than factions, but is offered only factions in the guise of identity politics, how will it behave?

Well, we just got our answer: The electorate will focus on soundbites from one or two of the issues plus the personality/reputation of the candidates, and hope for the best (or least-worst) on everything else... and split pretty much right down the middle. And anyone who claims there's a "mandate" for anything is lying just like they did about the purported "Bush mandate" in 2004. The Donald's ticket received 60.27 million votes, 47.3%, out of about 127.5 million votes cast — less than a majority, less than Hillary. (That's an argument for another time.) That's no mandate. And it's even less of a mandate as a percentage of registered voters (25.0% of 241 million), let alone population (18.6% of 324.6 million). The Donald may have won the election under our peculiar rules... but neither he nor "his" party have a "mandate".

The whole point of democracy and representative government is to not just tolerate, but embrace, dissent. (That doesn't include rioting before anything actually happens in one of the whitest major cities in America.) Unfortunately, the Heffalumps institutionally have a century-plus history of refusing to accept dissent as an essential part of governance and government, so I'm afraid we're in for a bad time. That's not to say that the Jackasses have been paragons of virtue — just that they're less evil. But when one chooses the lesser evil, it behooves one to remember that it was still a choice of evil.