So there’s a political sign in my front lawn now.
I knew it was coming. The candidate is a friend of mine and he had asked me politely if he could put it there to let people know he was running for a local office. I honestly think he’d do a good job at it if he got elected, so I was happy to let him do so.
But it’s still kind of an odd feeling.
I’ve always had an interest in politics, as long as I can remember. Not running for office – not that kind of politics. My friend with the sign once tried to get me to run for City Council and all I could think of was “why would anybody want to do that?” So I’ll likely never hold an office. But I’ve been studying politics for much of my life – how it works, why people think this or that system is a good way to organize the world, that sort of thing.
I have a PhD in American history, a BA in psychology, and three decades’ experience backstage. It’s not hard to understand why I think it is interesting to see how people think things ought to be run, what they think is happening versus what actually is happening, and the mechanisms they erect to achieve their societal goals. I’ve been studying those things all my life, officially or otherwise. When I teach my history classes we always spend a lot of time on ideologies – where they come from, what happens when people try to implement them on the ground, and so on. You can’t hope to understand the Electoral College, for example, unless you understand what the Founders thought politics ought to look like.
And in this election year it would make sense to pay even more attention than usual.
Except that I am so utterly burned out by the whole tawdry spectacle of modern American politics that I find myself just wanting the whole field of political endeavor to go away. I want no part of it.
We are in the midst of a full-on frothing assault on American traditions, institutions, and values from the far right wing these days. The Republican Party has been subverted by the batshit insane and turned into an existential threat to the survival of the American republic – a process that began in the late 1960s, reached a tipping point in the early 1990s, and has gotten progressively and now quite possibly irredeemably worse since 2008 – and every time you think they have reached rock bottom and could not possibly sink any lower they prove you wrong.
Seriously – take a look at the collection of punitively stupid and retrograde hostage demands that they insist is the 2016 platform and tell me that’s not a group well on the way to Fascism but lacking the intellectual heft or consistency to pull it off. And when your nominee is a guy who went bankrupt four times trying to sell steaks, alcohol, and gambling to the American people – a man who has yet to put forward a single coherent policy but whose fragments constitute a clear and present danger to the Constitution, a document he obviously hasn’t read – an intellectually stunted bully whose first reaction to any tragedy is to make it about himself – well, you’ve pretty much conceded that you’re not a serious political party anymore, haven’t you?
Honestly. I feel bad for my conservative friends. Nobody’s representing them anymore, unless you count Barack Obama, who is essentially Eisenhower in civvies. Welcome to my world, I say. Nobody’s represented me for decades.
The Democrats have problems, too, of course, but the Republicans are insane.
And yes, the Democrats have problems. Their nominee is ruthless Machiavellian technocrat whose demonstrated competence in every field she’s attempted has only just barely kept her ahead of the cloud of ethical lapses that follow her around like puppies – lapses that have never amounted to crimes no matter how blown out of proportion her opponents make them but which are tiring nonetheless and which drain the enthusiasm out of her supporters at a time when it is so badly needed. And the runner up this year was a visionary throwback whose conclusions were sounder than his ideas for implementing them and a substantial portion of whose followers are so mired in their own privilege that they’d rather see the country go to the Republicans than sully themselves by voting for the candidate who beat him fair and square.
But either of the two Democrats is beyond a doubt preferable to the mess that the GOP brings to the table. There is no planet on which Donald Trump should be taken seriously as a candidate for anything other than experimental medical treatment. Yet he won the GOP nomination fair and square. He’s the guy the Republican base preferred to all of the other possibilities they were offered – the sixteen supposedly qualified people who were steamrolled by the juggernaut of ignorance, nativism, white privilege, blind rage, retrograde theoracy, muddle-headed economics, and simple-minded narcissism that their party spent decades working to perfect. The GOP is the party of Trump now, and for that alone they should be buried in ignominy and forgotten by humanity.
I’m tired of it. Truly, deeply tired of it.
But this is what is there, so this is what we deal with. I will do my part, because to do otherwise is to betray everything that is worthwhile about this country. I pay attention, and I vote.
If you’re in the area, you should take a look at my friend’s sign and see if you think he’s worth your vote. I think so. You may too. And if you don’t, well, go in peace to vote for whom you will.