So my husband asked me if I could do a post on politics for him that addresses his concerns regarding the current US political landscape. He chose the title and the subjects, and asked me to put meat on the bones. I agreed, partly in response to a post on the political effects of tight money from general international view by Lars Christensen; a very good post by the way.
For some background, as long as I’ve known my husband, for about 22 years, he has not been active in politics nor has he been affiliated with any political party. He used to occasionally make light of seriousness with which I took politics, claiming my activism was a waste of time and watching the politicians was so boring to him that he would rather poke his eyes out with pins.
Lately, however, and especially after me discussing with him the causes and nature of the financial crisis in 2008 and the Great Recession, the light has come on that politics does matter profoundly and there are plenty of very good reasons for boring oneself to tears watching what politicians and bureaucrats are doing. There is not a day that goes by during the week that he doesn’t text me links to news stories about clueless politicians and bureaucrats saying or doing something ridiculous.
Though my husband is an independent and plans to stay that way, we generally agree on the issues. But over time we have had differences of opinion about specific individuals involved in politics. Much of time, if not most of the time, I find myself gravitating more toward his point of view after having first had a somewhat more favorable opinion of them.
For instance, for years I listened to Glenn Beck every morning on the way to work. Back then, to me he sounded as if here were my neighbor and his opinions were reasonable. But somewhere after he started his TV show on Fox, which I began watching for the history content, he became more radical and over the top to the right, even skewing from more libertarian leanings to social conservatism.
My husband was the first one to notice Beck’s departure in tone and character and declined to watch his show with me. I finally stopped watching after Beck went over top declaring that if he did not hold a rally in Jerusalem, the apocalypse would begin in earnest. A bit too coo-coo for me.
As for my husband’s axis of the four evils, he delineated Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachman, with all but one of those being people I used to have at least some favorable opinion of. Now, I am not claiming to be as crazy and over top as they. Except for the newcomer Cruz, these used to be somewhat reasonable people, and their present manner of rhetoric is quite far from it.
I have a post on my objections to the rhetoric of Ted Cruz here, though I have tended to ignore the others, save for Trump, because as they abandoned reason, they simply are not worth dignifying with a response. There were plenty of what have I viewed to be more important battles of words to wage.
I even questioned the wisdom of writing about Michelle Bachmann who should have by now faded into oblivion and should be allowed to remain there. But my husband believes she is a symbol of the recent tendency toward statism and loss of personal freedoms embodied in the movement from the right and is therefore important to mention. Perhaps so. Bachmann, after all, advocated, among other statist things, mandatory mental treatment for homosexuals and has plenty in common with the other three on his axis.
Sarah Palin. It’s tough for me to be hard on her. I did at one time like her until I realized her level of intellectual endowment. She is not very smart in regard to the general welfare or statesmanship and she isn’t particularly skilled in politics, having resigned as Governor of Alaska citing legal difficulties after serving just two years of her four-year term. She is, however, very skilled in demagoguery, rabble rousing and opportunism, or at least it is difficult to find an alternate explanation of how someone who lovingly embraced the freedoms guaranteed in the US Constitution as she has claimed to do in the past would hitch her wagon to nationalists, especially Donald Trump who has claimed that the 14th Amendment containing birthright citizenship (as to prevent the court system system from defining who can be guaranteed rights under the constitution as it did so well in the Dred Scot decision) is unconstitutional. But to become a dictator, I suppose one has to find some way to dispense with the public’s emotional attachment to the constitution as a first order of business. Oh yes, that very hurtful document has got to go! Ms. Palin can’t have her cake and eat it too. Nonetheless, she has expressed an interest in becoming the Secretary of Energy in a Trump administration after publicly supporting his candidacy, and really, I can’t think of anyone less qualified for that post, except for perhaps the current energy secretary and me.
It is an item of faith, perhaps, that however troubled our political landscape here in the US may appear, when the voting starts, the only poll that matters, we shall see how seriously these over-the-top nationalist radicals are taken. I suspect that the margin of error in the polls being conducted currently is greatly understated. The public didn’t buy angry rhetoric in the last campaign, and when it comes to the national election, the result will be the same. What is left of the Republicans are the angry ones, not everyone else; and I am not expecting that repeating the same mistake by nominating an angry, hateful candidate will produce a different result.
This might just be my moment of wishful thinking, but I do have more faith in the decency of my fellow citizens than what the outward appearance of our politics from media reports allows them to be given credit for.