Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Let’s not get too excited

Well, here we are in the dog days of summer of an election year, and the political world seems to be in the throws of desperate appeals to save the country from utter and total ruin if the wrong people get elected.  I’m getting pretty tired of it all.

That is, those on the left are screaming that the those on the right are out to steal the election, destroy the society, dismantle the government, and round up all the non-white and weak population and put them in concentration camps (well, maybe they are really saying those things, but those on the left know what those on the right really mean).

And, those on the right are screaming that those on the left are out to steal the election, destroy society, cripple the free market, and round up all the business and productive people and put them into government re-education camps (well, maybe they aren’t really saying those things, but those on the right know what those on the left really mean).

But, you know, look at what happened four years ago.  Barak Obama ran on Hope and Change.  He was seen to be, by his voters and by himself, a transformative historical figure.  He was going to change the county and change the world.  What happened?  The world changed, you bet, and he helped.  But it certainly hasn’t changed the way he predicted he would make it change, has it?  The world changes with or without our presidents or congresses. 

It is always so nice to pretend to believe during the big elections that our politicians have the power to rule the world.  But, the country, and the world, are so much more powerful than our politicians.  I think that what happens, mostly, is that those in power end up doing what they can’t avoid doing, which is reacting to reality rather than being able to keep campaign promises that make sense ideologically but don’t really make much sense in the real world.

For example, Candidate Obama was going to dramatically change the foreign policy of the United States – be nicer, more accommodating, lift negotiation and compromise back to the top of the agenda, have the world love us once again.  And I think he did a good job of changing the tone of Washington, but President Obama did what he discovered he had to do - he pretty much has maintained President G.W. Bush’s foreign policies in the wars of Iraq and Afghanistan, kept Guantanamo in operation, is tightening the sanction screws on the refuse-to-negotiate Iran, demonstrating U.S. power in the China seas, etc.  Much the same as Bush had done, or probably would have done.

Domestically, despite some of the most contentious and libelous battles I have ever seen in Congress, the debt ceiling actually was raised, the Keynesian stimulus package was actually passed, a nationalized health care package actually squeaked through congress and the president, the financial system was saved from collapse, a world wide depression was averted even though we are still in a pretty deep recession still, etc.  The world goes on despite the howls of the ideologues on both sides about how it is all coming to an end any minute now.

The pundits are aflame, the impassioned bases on the left and right are livid with fear and righteousness, the engaged middle is trying to calm the issues just a bit, the disengaged middle are trying their best to ignore the partisan hysterics, and in the end, we will elect a new government. 

And it will be a fine government after all, and the country will not be ruined. 

Let’s just not get too excited by the process, and realize that the process is very carefully designed to get us really, really afraid that it is all going to go to hell if we don’t vote for the right candidates. 

They are just trying to get your money, your time, and your vote. 

We should each pick a side, and be engaged, and care, and vote; let’s just pull away from the demonization of each other a bit, if we can.  We’re all in this together, and the day after the election we’re all going to be here still.  We need to live together, and it is so much better when we are not at each other’s throats.