A few thoughts on this and that

So, now that we’re getting towards the part where Hillary Clinton actually becomes the Democratic nominee, there’s increasing noise from the left about how the whole process is messed up, and unfair, and, well, undemocratic. The other day I saw a post from a leftist writer on the ‘book about how NPR is a terrible news organization for not making it clear that Clinton and the Democratic establishment are a bunch of crooks and they should just resign and move to Singapore or something.

The thing that makes me really angry is that the one story that is totally unacceptable to so many folks, both on the left and the right, is the one where Hillary Clinton is genuine in her desire to lead the country. That’s just not something people are capable of thinking, it seems like. Sure, she can be power hungry, or greedy, or racist, or insincere, or coniving, or mean or bad or whatever – any of those, or all of them – but absolutely not a citizen commited to her country. It’s just incredibly disheartening for me. What it looks like to me is that people run around thinking everyone else is untrustworthy, everyone you meet is a sinister asshole trying to take advantage – except you, and your friends, and your family. They’re all fine. Even your vindictive jerk of an uncle – he’s alright, you insist, you just have to get to know him. But politicians are all liars and thieves. Economists are all decieptful conspiracists. Lawyers are just bad people in general (until you need one, anyways).

What a world like that tells me is that people don’t trust each other, in general. They look at their television and dream about exotic vacations and beautiful people, and are disgusted by the world around them. They don’t want the real world, they want the Hollywood movie version of the world. Where at the end of each day order is restored, and your expectations are all met, and everyone wins, and nobody gets hurt. And when the world doesn’t work out that way, people become cynical and angry. There is so much rage out there in the complacent world of America. I see it in both the Trump and Sanders campaigns. People are so angry. There is so much injustice. It’s endless.

And there’s a part of me that’s almost gleeful at the developing spat between Paul Ryan and Donald Trump. I absolutely despise Paul Ryan, so I love to see him clutching his pearls over Trump’s ascension. Ryan is a real conservative – I think if he had his way, we’d go back to the Articles of Confederation. Trump is pure reactionary – he speaks for the folks that just want everything to go back to normal (whatever that is). He’s the Archie Bunker of Presidential candidates. He basically wants the liberal welfare state, except more isolationist, and only for white people.

Sanders, in my view, isn’t really any better than Trump. He’s a maverick, not a coalition builder. He’s great at running a campaign, but I have a feeling he’d be terrible at running an administration. Moreover, his distrust of finance would likely mean he’d try to balance the budget whilst delivering his socialist agenda. And there’s no way he’d get Congress to raise taxes to the amount needed to cover a national health care program. And there’s really no way he could put together a national health care program that would meet everyone’s expectations, because we all have unreasonable expectations. We don’t just want to go to the doctor when we get sick – we want to get all the best treatment, from the best people, and have them fix everything. Just like on TV. And that’s impossible. Even if he could get single-payer health care implemented (which is totally impossible – I don’t give a fuck what you say, what studies you show me – if you think we can get single-payer health care in the US and its just a matter of electing Bernie Sanders then you haven’t been paying attention).

Seriously, if Sanders suddenly became the nominee, the Democratic party would face a crisis similar to the one currently unfolding in the Republican party. There are a lot of Democrats that cannot run while supporting a socialist, especially not one that wants to raise taxes and nationalize the health care and education systems. And if Sanders actually won and became President, it would be an absolute disaster for the Democrats. The GOP would be able to run against everything Sanders said. And they would. And they would win. It’s much, much easier to run against someone or something than it is get elected and make stuff happen. But what I think that most people want is for stuff not to happen. We don’t want neighborhoods to gentrify. We don’t want the rent to do up. We don’t want new construction or different businesses. We want to have the best country on earth, but we don’t want to share it, and we definitely don’t want to have to turn people away from it, but we don’t want it to change either.

This election is turning me into a condescending asshole.

Anyways – another thing on my mind is the way the media narrative has developed. I’d like to point out that television news is driven by ratings, not by morals or ethics or logic or standards or anything else. I mean, there are a million niche media outlets that will cater to whatever particular view you like. The internet has made that possible. But the large scale, mainstream media is driven by the audiences with the most available income, because they’re the folks advertisers are most willing to spend money reaching. Donald Trump dominated the primary season because he gets ratings. And he knows how to get ratings. He’s already a television star. People love to recognize the people on their television. Bernie Sanders has a perfect personality for television – that “what you see is what you get” persona – his message is simple and repetative. And it thrives on distrust of the system, distrust of politicians and bankers and lawyers. “The system is rigged!” and most folks are ready to believe that. They were going to retire early and move to the Bahamas but their boss or Congress or the bank screwed them out of it. They had reasonable expectations. They had modest goals. But the world conspired against them, and it’s just not fair.

People want to see protesters break into Hillary Clinton’s speech and tell her that the people want answers, and she’s going to need to just sit down and shut up. She needs to stop thinking she’s so important. People are okay with seeing Hillary Clinton represented as the establishment and seeing Hillary Clinton treated like shit because, well, they don’t like the establishment (and anyways, she’s a woman). Can you imagine that happening to Mitt Romney in 2012 on Fox News? Or George W. Bush? Not a chance! There would be an immediate, furious response from the public if protesters were aloud to talk to W. the way they talk to HRC – but because she’s who she is it’s okay. In the meantime – isn’t there a bunch of other elections going on in the US that matter? I feel like Presidential politics has really sucked all the oxygen out of the election year. Maybe we’ll hear more about it all in October. The Clinton v Sanders contest is way more interesting right now. And of course, Trump making everyone wonder if this is the end of the Republican party as we know it.

And maybe this is the end of the GOP as we know it. But then again, that’s a source of tremendous frustration for a lot of people. The left gets really mad at the idea of Democrats having anything to do with former Republicans. They want the Democratic party to be the party of the left. Which, to me, seems utterly ridiculous. Ted Kennedy was liberal, but he was no socialist. And what about Robert Byrd? Are they not aware that the Democrats were the institutional party of the South (that is, the party of Jim Crow) until 1948 at least? The only reason Sanders has gotten this far is so that the media would have a horse race to cover – the Millenials are not socialists. They’re angry.

Published by samuelbarbour

Besides writing a blog, I also teach, farm, cook, and play music. I live in the Illinois River Valley with my partner, Molly Breslin, who sometimes posts stuff at breslinfarms.com

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