Chicken Little is at it again. There is chaos about and the sky will do something. A life changing vote is coming in 2016. You guessed it; the mariner tried to watch the republican debate. He purposefully assumed a conservative mindset so he could understand the points that will be made on planned parenthood, declaring war, cutting taxes on the superwealthy, dismantling any and all social programs, and shutting down the EPA and any other inconvenience to corporate profit.
He was not successful. An hour and fifteen minutes into the debate, he turned off the TV. As the mariner has said in the past, there is no debate – only politicians trying to get as many stock phrases as possible in their allotted time and, of course, never answering any question put to them.
Remember that chaos has no rules. As a balloon approaches the point where air pressure inside bursts the balloon, predictability fails and the balloon will rupture when it pleases, how it pleases. So it is with American politics today. Something will rupture. No matter which party wins, it may be that 2016 elections, both Federal and State, will act as a needle to burst the political scene and set the nation’s course in a different direction. There is no guarantee about that; chaos will have its way.
The mariner is not concerned about the republican sideshow. The primaries (the real way we pick candidates) will sort the herd. What concerns the mariner is the state of the nation’s citizens. Every day that passes, it seems there are increasing numbers of polarized, non-thinking people on both sides. Many voters use thread worn euphemisms to guide their preferences – words like no new taxes, rebuild the military, stop immigrants, close coal burning factories, save the Arctic, etc. The mariner warns voters that there are no applicable euphemisms for 2016. What is a republican? What is a democrat? Truth be told, the cultural and international issues will impose on either party’s policies. Issues about environment, infrastructure, economy, civil rights, corporatism, and foreign relations have been brewing since the first half of the last century; today, these issues approach us like stampeding cattle. Whoever becomes President in 2016 will have a chaotic agenda facing them. We must pick our leaders carefully and with required thoughtfulness.
However, the electorate at large will not think about policy and leadership for any candidate anywhere. The mariner has been burned many, many times throughout his life, not by the candidates but by the citizens themselves. Nearly half will not participate in the election process – the true silent majority – and those who vote, conservative or liberal, will vote for the best personality, not the best leader for the times nor the candidate who will solve real problems – Donald notwithstanding (don’t we all fear Donald? Chicken Little says not). The mariner has lived in three states. In each state party regulars, a tiny number of the entire party, vote pretty much the way they’re told or they won’t be party regulars very long. Kudos to the Iowa caucus for its ability to draw a mixed bunch representing several candidates – a true debate environment. Nevertheless, candidates everywhere are selected to be on the ballot by party machinery that heavily favors incumbents. For example, voters give the 113th Congress a favorable rating under 10%. Yet, the return rate of incumbents is 98%. Someone didn’t “throw out the bums!” Voters get what they vote for.
The United States is approaching a fork in the road. The 2016 election, Federal and state, will set the country in one of two very different directions. Events forced upon us in the near future can easily become cataclysmic if our government is not up to measure.
Is politics now more critical than it has ever been? Or does global warming just make everything seem more dire?
It would be a stretch to say today’s politics are more critical than ever before. Yet, we are in a time that presses us to redefine our culture, redefine our daily values, redefine our national identity. All these together are a tall order for any nation. Globally, international relationships are cracking. The old order represented by the American-European model is passé. China, Russia, India and Brazil, along with all of Micronesia, represent more than half the world’s population. They are the new kids on the block of world economy.
Further, the planet we live on has just about had it with us. Earth stewardship will require a difficult reordering of corporate and investment priorities – like getting out of the fossil fuel business as fast as we can; stop cutting trees and stop erasing major habitats that sustain the world we desire.
Politically, all this is a tall order. Politically, it will be very difficult to overturn power structures that have had 100 years to become established. But we must. The only way is to use politics to reorder the American ideal. Yes, politics are unusually important for the next several decades.