Wednesday, June 6, 2012

And the Results Are In

Back in high school, I had a friend named Larry. 

Larry was one of those kids you find a lot in high school – extremely intelligent, fairly articulate, disaffected and out of step with the larger culture in which he found himself, a sharp observer (as those on the outside tend to be), somewhat cynical in the way of teenaged guys, but a good soul in general.  We were theater rats together, and thanks to the categorical imperative of alphabetical seating we spent four years in homeroom sitting one behind the other.

“The problem with democracy,” he once told me, “is that most people are idiots.”

I find that this is always a good thing to remember come election time, particularly when the results are so convincingly in favor of what is, by any objective measure, a stupid choice.

Wisconsin went to the polls yesterday for its eagerly anticipated recall elections.  I was there bright and early – voter number 81 in my ward, at 8:15am – and participation was heavy throughout the day everywhere in the state.  Everyone knew it would come down to turnout, and so it did.

Having outspent his rival by roughly 8:1, two thirds of which was siphoned into Wisconsin by out of state donors who don’t have to live with the consequences of their actions, Governor Teabagger (a wholly-owned subsidiary of Koch Industries) managed to pull of more or less the same victory he pulled off in 2010.

This says to me that even after the damage that he has caused to our schools, our business climate, our economy, our communities, our tradition of open and ethical government, and our system of checks and balances, the people who voted for him last time said to themselves, “Hell yeah!  That’s what we want!” and voted for him again.

So I was wrong about how close the election would be, since it was a far larger gap than 0.5%, and I was wrong about the results depending on the ideologically extreme suburbs of Milwaukee, since their vote totals were subsumed into the larger victory.  On the one hand, this is good – it means that this won’t drag on.  On the other hand, I have no doubt that Governor Teabagger (a wholly-owned subsidiary of Koch Industries) will interpret this as a mandate to crush his opponents even more than he already has, subvert Wisconsin’s institutions and laws even more than he already has, and in general accelerate the path toward destruction that he has already placed us on.

Because apparently that’s what the majority of the citizens of Wisconsin want.

It’s one thing to be fooled by a tin-horn petty tyrant.  It’s quite another to keep him in office voluntarily, knowing ahead of time what you're signing up for.

I am not sure I want to live among people who find his behavior acceptable.  This may require moving to a more American state, if I can find one in the current degraded condition of the republic.

Larry, you were more prescient than you knew.


timb111 said...

No, no! Don't move to a more American state. Move to Canada!

Nathan said...

Borowitz says Canada has closed the border.

Phiala said...

Pennsylvania is not a whole lot more American.

If the GOP wins in November, I'll be looking for somewhere more humane (not more interesting, which is what I started to write), because among other things I expect I'll be out of a job.

David said...

Canada is on the list of possibilities. It's not utopia, but I think their extremists are a smaller minority than ours. I've always thought I'd like to try living in the Maritimes or Toronto, or perhaps Vancouver.

As much as I'd like to go back to Philadelphia (or even Pittsburgh), Pennsylvania has drunk deep of the Teabagger's Kool-Aid of late and is not on my list, nor is New Jersey.

Perhaps New England.

Nothing in the reanimating Confederacy.

It's early yet. I'm just exploring now.

Random Michelle K said...

My brother and I had this discussion during the time of GWB.

"I want to move to a more liberal state," he said. "Maybe Oregon."

"Don't do it," I said. "Right now, things are relatively close here (for some things anyway; at least we're pro-union), you leave, that's one less liberal we have to offset the wack-a-loons.

On the other hand, Canada IS starting to look good...

beatrice in Paris said...

I'm so sorry for the results. Sometimes France looks better, but when the neo-nazis get 20% of the vote it's quite embarassing, if not scary.

Rufus Dogg said...

I'd say "Come move to Ohio" but we have John Kaisch and he was doing the happy dance when he saw Walker win. He is even more reckless than Walker.

When you find that state, save me a seat. I'm eye-balling Aarhus, Denmark... the kingdom has lasted over 5,000 years. Surely it could last another 30-40 more for us geezers to retire without having to lock and load against our own neighbors?

David said...

It is hard to find somewhere in the US untouched by the blight of malignant Teabaggerism, that's for sure.

France has too many other issues - sorry Bea. At least our ogres aren't neo-Nazis, just garden-variety Gilded Age whores and theocrats.

Now, Denmark has possibilities. From what I gather they are relatively open, tolerant, stable and secular. I could live like that.

Rufus Dogg said...

You strike me more as an Ålborg guy than an Åhrus dude. They have a university there that is always looking for smart professors to teach. Let me know when you think about a visit; I'll hook you up with some friends.

Danes are pretty tolerant.. you will need to learn Danish but that is pretty much their only immigration requirement. Jeg elsker din blog!

David said...

Mange tak, Rufus!

Kim actually speaks Swedish, so I suppose that's close enough to give her a good running start at Danish, in the way that my taking Spanish classes was moderately helpful in learning Italian.

If we ever do decide to go to Denmark, though, I will most certainly take you up on that offer. :)

Ewan said...

Cuomo has (many) flaws, as does the bizarrely Republican state senate, but NY in general has been very resistant to many of these strains. Come on up - I doubt that the intervening five years have made your vexation diminish..

..the SUNY system in particular is, still, seen across the board as a thing to be cherished. Even if many of the admin would like that cherishing to be more targetted at obtaining federal overhead - err, grants.

Still not a robot.

Ewan said...

Also: reading this after your list of top-SF that you had not read, it occurs to me that both Neal Stephenson (shock! I do hope you corrected this) and Heinlein were in the unread category; in which case you may have missed his classic comment from the Notebooks of Lazarus Long:
"Democracy is based on the assumption that a million men are wiser than one man. How's that again? I missed something. Autocracy is based on the assumption that one man is wiser than a million men. Let's play that over again, too. Who decides?”

David said...

Ah, Ewan, you tempt me with this SUNY of yours! I'd love to be in a university system that wasn't actively being sabotaged by its state government. It would be a refreshing change. Trust me, the intervening five years has just made Wisconsin's situation worse across the board.

I have actually read some Heinlein! It was a long time ago, but I've read both Stranger in a Strange Land and The Notebooks of Lazarus Long. I admit I don't remember that quote, though - thanks for reminding me. I will have to add it to my quotebook. I did take two from Lazarus Long, though: "Progress doesn't come from early risers - progress is made by lazy men looking for easier ways to do things," and "Your enemy is never a villain in his own eyes." Maybe I should reread that book.

And yes, I've read a fair bit of Stephenson since. I started with the Baroque Cycle, then Cryptonomicon, and since then Anathem, REAMDE, Seveneves, and most recently Snow Crash. Slowly I am working through his entire bibliography, and enjoying it immensely.

Ewan said...

Well, good. I think that Cryptonomicon and Snow Crash are high points - the baroque cycle is probably the very hardest place to start, and I bounced off in the end. Diamond Age is another gem. He and Stross (and perhaps Gaiman) are at the pinnacle of my reading choices.

I am behind on my own Stephenson, which is probably a good thing to have in anticipation; I've been chain-imbibing the Rivers of London series and re-reading Heinlein and Pratchett. [I was asked yesterday what I was reading; the questioner seemed very taken aback to get five distinct answers, but it depends which device and/or location..]

David said...

I enjoyed Cryptonomicon and Snow Crash, as well as his other books, but the Baroque Cycle remains my favorite - largely, I suspect, because it covers a historical period that I know a great deal about and does so in ways that I found both entertaining and illuminating. It isn't often I learn things I didn't know from a novel about my period! His explanation of the Financial Revolution could serve as a primer on the subject, for example. I suppose I'll get to Diamond Age eventually. :)

Stross is also one of my favorites - I spent much of the summer reading (or rereading, depending on volume) the Laundry Files books, and his Rule 34 duology is a lot of fun. And Gaiman is wonderful as well - one of the best sheer writers in the genre, I think. One of my favorite lines of his comes from one of his poems, which is odd as I am not much of a poetry reader. "Do not fear the ghosts in this house, / They are the least of your worries."

I will have to look into the Rivers of London series. I hadn't heard of that one before, and it looks like something I would enjoy!