Just One Election in a Series

Many have said the 2016 election is an unusual one that forebodes further unrest. For context, one must go back to points of recent unrest in 1964 (Civil Rights marches), 1968 (Chicago riots), 1970 (67 rounds fired by the National Guard into a crowd killing four and wounding thirteen Kent State students during protest of Nixon’s incursion into Cambodia), 2000 (Supreme Court elects George W. Bush), 2007-9 Great Recession (8.9 million jobs lost; housing market collapses), 2010 (Supreme Court rules that first amendment protects money as a form of speech).

Given the mariner’s lifespan in history, he has watched the United States crumble slowly. The nation has lost its core value. Like a giant old tree that slowly grows rotten and hollow or an ash tree infected from within by ash borers, but still looks like a tree, the United States casts the shadow of a nation but it is closer to catastrophe than the inhabitants of the tree suspect.

In the spirit of W. Edwards Deming and Peter Drucker, two internationally renowned management theorists, every organizational structure is under pressure to change constantly. Efficiency is volatile if not carefully managed; employee performance drops the moment employees cease to be the most important product; the reason for existence at best is invisible but is more important to maintain than any other aspect of organization.

Deming in particular placed successful organization in the hands of employees who personally felt part of and believed in the reasons the organization exists. The reason for existence must be holistic and satisfy employee need to be content and valuable; it must deliver meaningful products, services, events and growth. Importantly, as Deming described in his writing about paradigms (holistic models), the organization must allow both for restorative and rapid change. The metaphor: If the tree is in its earlier years, perhaps there should be a plan to sustain the tree’s health with nutrients, pesticides and good environment; maybe remove faltering limbs. If the tree has grown older, perhaps it is time to invest in a new tree planted nearby to take over when the old tree is dying. Deming’s point being that a paradigm shift must begin outside the old organization.

When planning has not taken into account the subtle but growing dysfunction, and does not invest in a new reason to move forward accordingly, the organization reaches extreme dysfunction with no way to let go of old dependencies and step over to new paradigms.

Interestingly, the slow transition of US governments to newer, contemporary paradigms was disrupted. Instead, the old paradigm was reinforced but with artificial reasons for existence and did not consider visible political shifts that had been growing since Jack Kennedy was President. It didn’t help that Jack, Martin and Bobby were assassinated in close order.[1] Living in that year, the shutdown of momentum toward a new age was palpable. The Reagan patch delayed and worsened the old paradigm’s ability to have a slow transition to newer governance and predetermined that in 2016 the US would have seventeen republican candidates for president, a liberal democratic candidate who represented the established paradigm and a populist progressive candidate. Further, one of the republicans is a populist nonpolitician – all of them facing a runaway oligarchy, a hollow Federal Government, and an oppressed citizen class. The core of the nation’s purpose is in shambles.

The mariner believes certain behaviors occur during changes in cultural demand. One of the last to occur is populism, when the old paradigm has hung around too long. Populism also occurs when social pressure has nowhere to discharge and generates enmity. The idea of democracy, as it emerged over a few centuries, was to prevent enmity. It is easy to see that power over others grows stronger over time; the core purpose is compromised. This is the state of affairs in 2016. Who is opposed to term limits – a constraint that maintains the original role of a citizen statesman within in his own era? How could an 18th century racist bigot still hold an important role in a culture that has changed drastically over his 87 years (Jesse Helms)? The mariner’s flavor of term limits is based on age rather than terms. He suggests not being eligible for office if the official passes the age of 60 during that term.

Political parties, they are not government agencies, play the role of a charlatan automobile mechanic. The parties, in just a short amount of time, try to put the party choices in elected positions hoping to fix things better from the party’s perspective. In 2016, the primary/caucus voter has virtually no democratic role; it is a false vote. It is party politicians who maintain control with loosely bound “delegates” – the voter’s delegate may represent the voter’s choice but by the time delegates vote for delegates who vote for delegates, the odds are against the original voter’s choice ever being represented – especially in times of active change.

Power plays like gerrymandering, big money from who knows who, corporate ownership of representatives, and a plethora of financial privileges that are illegal for common citizens, well, one can imagine why populism has emerged.


Leave it to LiveScience to throw quick facts at the reader that will provoke new inquisitiveness. The web site has a feature called “50 things you didn’t know about….” There’s a feature focused on the Earth that blows some dust off old information. See: http://www.livescience.com/19102-amazing-facts-earth.html?li_source=LI&li_medium=most-popular

Dedicated watchers of cable news will notice that the new phrase used by correspondents, and which spreads across channels as fast as a plague, is, “….That being said…” Fortunately, the abuse of the word “existentially” is on the wane.

Ancient Mariner

[1] When Ronald Reagan was elected in 1981, he and his kitchen cabinet put together a list of 10-12 policies that would draw influence away from populist control of political processes. This was the beginning of the mini-republican age that dominates at the present time.

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