Monday, November 5, 2018

MONEY MAD AMERICA

It is almost a universally accepted concept: "of course with such a strong economy, folks aren't going to vote against the governing party."  In the case of tomorrow's American election, November 6, the governing party is the Republican Party, the President is Trump, and on paper the economy is booming.  

Ignoring the two obvious questions of whether the economy is really booming and at what cost, or who is responsible for the boominess (the dog-tired metric of "Dow Jones + Unemployment numbers = economic reality" has proven itself pretty pointless, and the idea that something as massive as the US economy can shift in a matter of months is simply not true), one is left with the the basic proposition: is it true?  Do Americans cast their votes based primarily on their economic self interests, real or perceived?  

The answer is pretty much, absolutely.   Yes they do.  

What's more amazing to me is that everyone thinks this is okay.  The mostly rational TV pundits, opinion-makers, columnists, writers, political gurus -- the entire political political and commentary orchestra -- accept this not just as a grim political reality, but as a rational basis for political loyalty.   De Tocqueville is smiling somewhere as someone as intellectual agile as Ben Shapiro says that if you aren't rich in America, there's something wrong with you.

In fact, this kind of thinking reveals an emotionally and morally bereft culture.  Here the ugly, narrow minded people be.  Not just that they measure everything by the dollar and self-interest, but because they see nothing wrong with it.

The other day I overheard three obviously retired men in their seventies in a coffee shop.  The gist of what they were saying was, "My stocks keep going up, so I don't care what he does as long as that happens."  What a pathetic arrival: you get to your seventies and the collective wisdom of your seven plus decades on the planet is to screw all other measures of value and focus entirely on money.  If you have grandchildren -- and I assume at least one of them does -- you don't care what kind of country you're leaving them, what kind of civil society you're passing on, even what kind of physical planet you're leaving; money is the only game.

Trump is a jabbering mad man.  It's not just that he is utterly bereft of anything resembling a non-Trumpian thought; he is experiencing, and I think enjoying, a full flown psychic meltdown in front of the entire world.  Almost any leader of a far right political persuasion would be preferable to this lunatic, and yet 89% of the GOP (and, one presumes, a huge chunk of non-GOP members, otherwise) where did those votes come from?) support him above all others, ostensibly for two reasons: they get the judges they want on the Supreme Court, and they like the economy.

Folks, there are things more important in this world than those two ideas.  And if the con artist in your pulpit, the one telling you to vote for Trump, won't tell you what those things are, I'll tell you.

Human decency is important. Not ripping children from the arms of their mothers is important.  Promoting peace not just between nations, but between individuals, is important.  Not destroying the planet is important.   The history and continuity of a country's highest ideals is important.  Trump represents none of these things.  He is a hater, a provocateur, a jester who craves chaos in the name of his own self importance.  He is a childish monster, and those who are able to support the child and his friends for the sake of a good economy are themselves missing an important piece of emotional software: the human decency chip.

Relatively speaking, economies are now global affairs, so a good or bad economy can't be credited to an Obama or a Trump or a Clinton.  It just doesn't work that way.  But pretending that it does work that way, where does the buck literally stop?

If you're a happy citizen of Germany in 1937 (and Aryan) do you put the economy first?  How about Italy in the late 1920's?  "I'm all right, Jack" proved, in these cases, to be mighty expensive.

A civilized society has to, at certain times, step back from its rapacious greed and individual self interest.  It has to think just a little bigger.  It has to have some pride beyond the credit card.  If America can't do that, it has a bigger problem on its hands than having elected a cretin like Donald Trump: it has an existential crisis.  What does it really stand for?  Why does it exist?  And what do the people, collectively, stand for? 

Presumably, tomorrow, we'll find out.  I fear the country will go for the ogre, and screw their neighbor and their grandchildren.  I will exult if I'm proven wrong.

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