My political opinion

politics - Scrabble tiles

Increasingly infrequently do I post or comment on political(1) opinions on social media. Largely because the tenor of our times, I feel, I fear is über-contentious. Hence, I do not wish to risk exacerbating what I perceive to be our already competing and conflicting, at times, combative personal political tensions.

That said, after two nights of debates(2) of the candidates for the 2020 presidential nomination of the Democratic Party, I awoke this morning, with a thought, really, a question

But, first, I share my political self-definition. Given the complexities of individual human nature, I do not believe that anyone’s political views can be captured by pithy titles, but rather require paragraphs of explication. Nevertheless, I am a social-policy progressive/liberal and a fiscal-policy conservative. I also am a registered Democrat who, generally, votes for Democratic Party candidates.

Now, although recognizing it’s still early, perhaps, too early in the proverbial electoral day, my thought/question: Has Donald Trump won re-election as the President of the United States?

The primary reasons for my query are three.

1: A central program proposal of nearly all the (and, certainly, the current opinion poll-leading) Democratic Party candidates is universal health care. This, I think, is something within the scope of our human/American desire to conceive, to imagine. However, because of a number of factors, among them, the economic costs (read: higher taxes), I do not think that it is within the range of our human/American will to do, to enact. This is another way of saying that I do not believe the general personality of the nation’s electorate is as left on the political spectrum as support for this program would require. And this is another way of saying that I believe the American people, communally, are more center-right than center-left (and certainly not far-left).

2: The compulsory role (and, therefore, influence) of the Electoral College notwithstanding, Mr. Trump has proven that he can be elected with less than a majority of the popular vote.

3: Mr. Trump’s base support of voters remains solidly in his favor.

My opinion aside (which, of course, is neither a fact nor, depending on one’s point of view, even my own, especially knowledgeable), whatever transpires, of this I am certain. It will be an interesting 493 days until Election Day, Tuesday, November 3, 2020.

 
Footnote:
(1) By “political,” here, I do not mean the act and art of the commerce of human relations, which, I believe, is the broadest, truest sense of the term. Rather, more narrowly, I mean the activities and structures, positions and persons associated with the exercise of governance.
(2) Wednesday, June 26, and Thursday, June 27, 2019

7 thoughts on “My political opinion

  1. Thank you, Paul. I respect so much your thoughtful reserve in speaking political opinions and your reasoning therefor. I generally agree with you on that score.

    With regard to the concern that you surface about the embrace of universal health care idea by most of the Democratic candidates thus far, I have a couple of thoughts to offer: Like you, I know beyond a doubt that there is currently not the political will in the US to adopt such a system. That said, I believe what we are seeing in the Democratic campaign so far is candidates, as well as more politically active voters, reacting to the US under Donald Trump’s Republican Party. I also believe the same people are still responding to the 8-year-long Republican reaction to President Obama’s presidency, with the professed and carried-out intent to shut down every Obama initiative, no matter how moderate it may have been, and Trump’s intent even to void Obama’s election by pressing his “birther” campaign, if possible.

    I believe if a reasonable, moderate Republican currently occupied the White House, and if Republicans in Congress were behaving like moderate Republicans, there would be far less chance that nearly every Democratic candidate would be embracing policies like universal health care. Hillary Clinton was a moderate (albeit largely disliked) Democrat. In the run-up to the 2016 election, Bernie Sanders was pretty much the only candidate who was carrying the universal health care banner. Most voters made pretty clear they weren’t interested, and still, Hillary Clinton, moderate, lost the election.

    We are a long way from a single-payer health care system in this country, no matter who wins the presidency in 2020. What I believe we are hearing from the current crop of Democrats is their pie-in-the-sky visions for progressive policies, which they know are not feasible without a great deal of movement in Americans’ views on such things as universal health care, which will take much time and effort to achieve. There are also a great many generally younger Democratic voters who are demanding fealty to progressive policies for their own often very personal reasons. The candidates do not want to alienate these voters, as they are the future. I personally know a number of young people who will not vote for a Democratic candidate who identifies as a moderate on certain issues: climate change, reproductive rights, GLBTQ-related issues, etc. The health care issue has become a sort of bellwether of progressivism, I think, and most candidates have become sensitized to that truth.

    Overall, I believe what we are seeing is that, because the Republican party, pressed by Trump, has moved so readily and so extremely far to the right on so many issues, Democrats feel that their movement to the left, at least rhetorically during the campaign, is simply an appropriate course correction for American politics in general and is necessary to bring along a vocal, active, younger constituency. It’s difficult to know which course (moderate or progressive) harbors greater risk of alienating more voters for Democrats. I trust that will become clearer as the campaign moves on.

    Thanks for speaking up!

    Love,

    Karen

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  2. My dear Karen, I agree with all you write, especially (1) the choice, perhaps, too, the necessity of Democratic Party presidential candidates tacking to the left in regarding to universal health care and (2) what I consider your sagacious observations about the progressive policies, practices, indeed, politics of the younger generation of the Democratic Party-supporting voters and, thus, the desire of candidates not to alienate that core constituency…

    On another front, from my intuitive 30,000 foot perspective (where I tend to live, if not also thrive), I continue to be amazed at the pendular shifts/swings in institutional leadership to the extent that one retiring from office – be it in political, commercial, ecclesial bodies – tends to be succeeded (I eschew the use the word “replaced,” for I do not believe anyone, as an individual, as if cloned, can be replaced) by her/his near polar-opposite. My theory (and it is a theory that falls far short of proven fact) of pendular-leadership-shifts/swings, of course, is not wholly accurate, but, in my view, close enough, often enough. In this light, should Mr. Trump not be re-elected, given the current crew of Democratic Party presidential candidates, doubtless, I think, the theory will be proven true.

    Love ya’ back!

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  3. I don’t disagree with your observation about pendular shifts in succession, Paul. And it is a curious phenomenon, isn’t it? It would seem logical that a society, a church, a business, any institution which, finding a way forward on some important fronts under a particular leadership, would seek to preserve that forward momentum by ensuring the succession of a leader of like persuasion and attitude to the last one. My guess is our society has lived through periods where such progression was the norm (the 1950’s perhaps?), and people were able to enjoy some longer periods of stability instead of the constant, unrelenting upheaval that seems to be the norm today.

    It’s difficult to account for the wrenches in leadership, encompassing both substance and style, that we are undergoing today, as you point out, in many areas. I can only suggest that we are living in one of the eras that is referred to by whomever coined the adage “May you live in interesting times.” For indeed, if our era is not in any way peaceful or calm, I guess we must all agree that it is at least interesting. My own observation is that we have come to a point in human history where some extremely foundational course correction is necessary and inevitable, and I think those making the effort to hurry those corrections along are throwing stones into what could be a rather placid pool and the wave action caused by those stones is affecting every aspect of our lives, whether the stones themselves concern every aspect of our lives or not. I can only compare our era to that of the Reformation in the Christian church and the society in which it was a, or perhaps THE, central grounding institution and force. Thinking logically, the Reformation should only have affected the religious and spiritual lives of those Christians caught up in the issues over which the struggle was being carried on, but those issues were SO basic to human identity and life in general that the upheaval in those areas caused a tidal wave in society in general and changed European society in so many ways it’s probably impossible to identify them all.

    I think we are living in a time that is akin to the time of the Reformation. We are being forced to look at things we’ve taken for granted since time as we understand it began. We are being forced to question nearly all the assumptions we have had about everything to do with life on planet earth. We are being shaken to our foundations by the knowledge that our earth and our lives can radically change to the point where they are no longer recognizable as all those things we thought would never change. Whether it is the stability of shorelines, the breathability of air, what the place of animals and other organisms is vis a vis humans, what constitutes a male or a female and whether we can think in terms of binary gender anymore, how genders or non-gendered beings relate to each other, what constitutes food, where does divinity reside and who can touch or recognize it, what does intelligence consist of, what happens when there is not enough food or drinkable water for everyone on earth, how do we control the technology that seems such a boon to human civilization but which is so terribly threatening to things like privacy and security that we used to value so highly, and so many, many more questions that we are encountering that we NEVER even dreamed of in the past. I believe these kinds of extreme questions are severely taxing each individual and they are severely taxing every human system we have invented, not to mention the natural systems we had nothing to do with setting up, but which our activities can affect profoundly and perhaps simply destroy (like the bees that are so necessary to our agriculture).

    To me the above may go some way toward suggesting why our leadership swings are now so wide and unpredictable. We are constantly reacting to issues and questions and pressures that are brand new and overwhelming, and people – all kinds of people – are grasping at ideas to try to begin to address them, or in some cases. I believe, to try to ignore them and maybe they’ll just go away. (They won’t, I’m pretty sure.) The result is the proverbial “interesting times,” and they just happen to have hit while we are here and alive on this earth. We really are on a giant swing like the ones you see sometimes at state fairs, and sometimes it feels like all we can do is hang on for dear life. For life is indeed dear, and I think we see the life we’ve known and mostly loved receding in the rear view mirror more and more. And we’re struggling trying to save it or come up with something just as good if not better. That’s a huge order, and our chaotic institutions are, I think, trembling and threatening to buckle to try and absorb the shocks that are coming from all directions.

    I really believe at rock bottom our this is all about our human hearts and our human spirits needing to catch up with our very human minds, which have done a stellar job of progressing us on so many fronts. All the scrambling is finally to try to find a way, amid enormous human accomplishment and progress, where everyone and everything is cared for and valued and taken care of and not exploited and used and thrown away. Jesus knew it. He preached it; he taught it. And so have many others who got it as well.

    And now it’s up to all of us to finally get it. Getting there is not going to be pretty or easy or peaceful. But what a journey to be on!

    Love again,

    Karen

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  4. Paul, wouldn’t you love to be wrong? About new leaders succeeding the previous ones, we have seen Bush to Obama to Trump. These are huge changes. Please, please, please, couldn’t the next change be an equally wide swing?

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  5. My beloved Karen, you refer to the word oft attributed to a Chinese proverb (though, in my search, I’ve discerned no certifiable provenance): “May you live in interesting times,” which, far short of a blessing, was meant as a curse (for tranquility, as an individual and a communal state of existence was associated with an uninteresting time!).

    I love your analysis of our human, historical evolution and your ending point: “…this is all about our human hearts and our human spirits needing to catch up with our very human minds, which have done a stellar job of progressing us on so many fronts…to try to find a way, amid enormous human accomplishment and progress, where everyone and everything is cared for and valued and taken care of and not exploited and used and thrown away…”

    I’d like, I’d love to think that’s where we’re going. However, at this very moment, reflecting on your words, I behold, via my mind’s eye, two arcs of development. One that ascribes to that philosophical/theological (via the Wesleys) notion of human perfectability: that, somehow (ostensibly, by Divine Grace), we get humans get better and better and, the other, that, taking a hard look at human history avers that cycles of progress and regression repeat. As for the latter, it is no surprise to me how and why Donald Trump’s message, “Make America Great Again,” which, undeniably, harkened back to a former age (of the 1950s, I think), was/is so appealing to many who find our ever-more-varied-colored, ever-deepingly-diverse America so threatening. or, perhaps, at the least, unsettling.

    And, my beloved Anne, I take, that is, I understand the point of your question. I think, for some time now, regarding political leadership, I’ve taken the position that whomever is elected…well, is elected. Meaning that we, the American populace, which, of course, includes me, has to deal with (so far) him (pray, one day, we can and will say “her”).

    Love you both,
    Paul

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    1. Paul,

      I think with me it’s a matter of faith that as creatures made by God/Love, we are always capable of being made better, we are capable of learnings of the heart, just as we are capable of learnings of the intellect. We have learned how to examine and discover secrets of the universe that were formerly hidden from us, although at this point we have barely scratched the surface of the wonders of Creation. We have invented and made things, systems, institutions, etc, that have generally made life better for many, even though we often do not understand the down sides and the complexities of what we have wrought, nor the temptations and weaknesses they bring along with the “miracles” they engender. But I believe that just as we are capable of increasing our brain power, so are we capable of increasing our understanding, our compassion, our kindness, our benevolent thoughts and actions with regard to our planet and its inhabitants. A good part of this belief rests in the conviction that attitudes and behaviors that are ultimately grounded in love, kindness, and compassion simply WORK better than behaviors that are grounded in the worst of our human impulses. We all fare better when humans operate from their “better angels” rather than from our worst impulses.

      If humans are anything we are innovative and creative, and we seem to gravitate toward finding the best, most effective ways to do things. And I think that most of us can affirm that the attitudes and behaviors that spring from respect, tolerance, and justice are likely to be the most effective ways to live well on this planet. It is becoming a matter of practicality and self-interest that we teach ourselves and our children that wisdom, not because it is a “nice” thing to do or because we are naturally inclined to do so, but because it seems to work best for everyone and everything if we do. I think of the irony of the old “MAD” (mutually assured destruction) balance between the US and the Soviet Union. Horrible that we had to create a terrifying stand-off in order to keep ourselves somewhat safe from nuclear annihilation, but that is what we chose to do, and silly and dangerous as it was and is, it worked. We, at least so far, chose to do the sensible, practical thing, i.e., not kill each other, because that was the thing that worked for all of us. What if we had been able to skip the building of all those bombs and missiles and had simply said, “Well, I guess we’re going to have to live together to live at all?” I think what I’m trying to suggest is something similar. Living together seems to work best for everyone (consider the alternative) and living together works best when it is based on mutual respect, which may some distant day evolve to caring, which may some even more distant day evolve to love and wisdom. It seems to me that is part of divine genius, that the loving thing turns out to be the thing that works best. How could something God/Love designed work in any other way?

      I could go on, but I won’t. I know how controversial these ideas are. Nevertheless, they form the basis of the credo I’ve arrived at at age 72. It has frankly become the only way I can get up in the morning.

      Love you,

      Karen

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  6. My dear Karen, I don’t find your ideas controversial, and, I trust, that you knew and know that I would not. Aye, what you propose as the arc of development of humankind and, indeed, your life’s mantra – which, in my terms, I render as love and wisdom as the beginning of our creation and the direction and end point of our evolution – I consider to be the heart and soul of what I view as the enlightened self-interest of the Jesus-teaching: “Those who seek to save life will lose it and those who seek to lose their lives will save them.”

    Because I think this way, I struggle with my attempts to understand how it is that we humans tend to revert to our lesser impulses, e.g., dominance, subjugation, characterization of “the other” as lesser, searching for (and always finding) enemies/victims to oppress (which I oft refer to as the act of “headhunting”). Generally, I come to the notion that it is our fear that drives us; our fear of “the other” – all who are different by whatever means or measure. Then I tend to find the root of our (my) fear of “the other” in our (my) fear of ourselves/myself. For me, my shadow life and world where reside all those aspects of myself, indeed, my self that I do not like, which, if I could, I would rid myself, but, at the same time, knowing that were I to do so, then I would not be me. I suspect what I’m getting at here, spurred by a part of your eloquent reflection, is that I have and acknowledge an (my!) inner element of the MAD balance…

    I must contemplate more this inner irony. Thank you for setting me off and running!

    Love you, muchly, madly,
    Paul

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