This evening I took a break from translating Dutch instructions into something I might be able to make sense of and wondered the Interwebs. As is often my pattern of behavior I bounced around Facebook a bit, listened to a couple of pod casts, read a trip log or two at CrazyGuyOnABike, and eventually ended up reading some news and opinion pieces.
“Oh well fuck it” you might be saying “talk about stressful, we all thought you were trying to stay out of the stress.” And indeed I am trying to avoid stress and in particular overstress. But, let me point out to you that you’d be hard pressed, just as I am, during a Presidential election year to avoid the Grand Melee. If you have any access to media you’ll likely notice the insinuation of somebodies message about something political popping into your peripheral vision.
It started with a Facebook pointer to a FactCheck.org opinion piece; “Why The Truth Still Matters” by Brooks Jackson. If you’re not into reading more than my blog that’s okay, I’ll summarize it for you.
Political campaigns are not public-policy seminars. The candidate’s goal is not to inform, but to persuade and motivate. Candidates make false claims, and grossly exaggerate, because they believe that fires up their supporters and triggers the biases of potential supporters.
And his premise I believe is completely correct. The article points out that both of the “major” candidates to date have twisted facts, out right lied, or grossly exaggerated many if not most of their own and their competition’s campaign planks and former actions. Frankly, while it may make great political theater which sells add time on America’s television networks and cable services it sort of makes me sick to my stomach. And while I recognize that I have a confirmation bias I don’t particularly like it when someone tries to stroke it without my consent, or when they attempt to rub theirs in my face. That’s just nasty.
So now I’m more or less fed up with the whole election charade; I mean who can you trust? So I load up the long tail and ride another load of stuff to storage thereby freeing another few square feet of velomobile building space. The moon incidentally is about half full and was breaking through some lovely cloud remains from this afternoon’s T-showers.
Back at my desk, a little more translated pages in that pile, I end up back out on Facebook. I wonder what family members have been up to recently and end up visiting one of my brother’s wall. Its no secret that we have differing views on a variety of issues. Our debates on Facebook have sometimes lasted for pages. I post something that he disagrees with and he tries to change my mind or its the other way around and basically we both continue to stroke our own confirmation bias while adding our little voices to the Grand Melee.
He’s got this opinion piece from Bobby Jindal on his wall, I click through and read. Oh brother! Jindal, in his standard prose, attempts to weaken the President’s position by pointing out some policy failures, twisting the President’s words, posing false dilemma after false dilemma, and fabricating his own personal reality with the intent stroking the confirmation bias of his core. But there was one bit that I actually found a little closer to the truth.
But America is fundamentally a young country at heart, and we know our best days are always ahead. We are an aspirational people who want our children to inherit more opportunity than we inherited from our parents. We know that our circumstances of birth, race, gender and zip code do not determine our outcomes as adults. We know we are promised equality of opportunity, not equality of outcomes.
Demographically, he’s right on the money here. America, as well as most of the world is a young. I’m not sure about Jindal’s generalization about our national optimism or the characterization of national culture as “aspirational”, but I would agree that I too hope to leave a legacy to my children at least equal to the opportunities I was afforded. I think we like to imagine that our circumstances of birth, race, gender and zip code do not determine fate, but I’d point out that there is evidence to the contrary all over my daily life.
Okay, so Jindal is mostly right here, but not for the reasons he thinks he’s “right”. Largely he’s pointing out facts and or commonly held beliefs to support a position that is as decisive, class centric, and politically polarizing as the one he’s riling against.
So its common knowledge that both of the big parties and thus their power players are as pandering and corrupt as each other. FactCheck.org is jam packed with evidence of this simple truth and there are plenty of independent sources making the same observation I’m forced to admit. Its almost always Tweedle-Dee or Tweedle-Dum for president and their not even the folks pulling the strings any more.
So what do I want? Well, I still want to leave the world as good if not better off than I got it when my childrens’ turn comes around. That means to me, I’d like them to have a sustainable economy and perhaps more importantly a sustainable and just economic framework. I’d like for them to be able to enjoy things like blue skies, clean water, fishing, skiing, and hiking in untrammeled places. I’d like for them to enjoy a freedom of movement and speech and be able to focus their attentions to pursuits that both support a joyful existence and a reasonably comfortable standard of living. I’d like for them to find a place that is home to them and sink some deep roots and become an integral and accepted part of a close community of equals.
Some of these things I can help foster in my children, that’s part of growing your kid. Some of these things are beyond my control, but that certainly doesn’t stop me from hoping. And so I hope.
Which leads me to the title of this here blog post.
I don’t hope for a Republican or a series of the same to give all these things away to the highest bidder. Whether its petrochemical extraction rights or the establishment of a modern day Manor House the “free market” has been abused to the point that it really isn’t free for everyone any more is it? I’ll at least tell anyone who will listen that I don’t think this kind of behavior is right and just and a fitting legacy to leave my kids.
All the same I don’t hope for a Democrat or series of Democrats who will shill for Plutocratic aims of the same set of wealthy bidders. Seriously you fools, stand up and use your power and influence and stop being so eager to compromise. You sell your moral high ground and the mandates you’ve been given every time you twist the truth, conceal your own misadventures, or just go along with the crowd because it might be easier or worth a few votes. Again, I’m not afraid to point out that this kind of behavior, at least as likely as the former, is a sad excuse for a legacy to leave my kids.
I’m left with hope, a tiny voice that no one will listen to, and the impact only my actions and behaviors might have on what remains of aforementioned legacy. I won’t be stopping the melting of any ice sheets, but I might be able to work out a few of the kinks and provide an example of a better, sustainable way to live for my kids.
All I’m left to act on however is hope, and neither of the big sword wielding parties in the Grand Melee give me cause to hope for anything in that short list. I’ve been looking for people who see things a little closer to my line of reasoning, aren’t too tied to any particular religious dogma, aren’t militant, and who don’t use the excuse of “feasibility” to rein in aspirations for a better more inspired future. At least for the time being, I’m going with the Greens. It sort of feels like a million hands trying to push back the tide, but at least those hands are attached to people who hope.