Finding the Fault Line
One theme of this election is that whatever level of perfectness is available; you are not getting your share. With almost no voters left in the middle, each side is trying to fire up its base by saying, “you are getting screwed and I am the solution.”
But here’s some good news: according to a recent Pew Research Center survey, 59% of Americans are sick and tired of the election.
And here I thought the entire country was too stupid to come to such an obvious conclusion.
It is across the board too. Majorities of every demographic group are already exhausted. I could have given you breakdowns like male-female or boomer-millennial but then the gloating and jeering would have begun. My team is more sick and tired than your team. Nyah nyah.
There was once a happy time when people kind of knew what the Democrats and Republicans stood for. Sanctimonious lefties were on one side and right wing mouth breathers were on the other. A deep fault line existed between them so even the lowest information voter could tell the two sides apart. (“Low information voter” is the euphemism politicians and their handlers use to avoid telling the people they have lied to that they are too dumb to fog a mirror.)
Let’s see if we can figure out where the fault line is now.
The first goal of all political handlers is to convince you that this is the most important election in all of history. Since few believe the promises, the preferred technique is fear selling.
More important than 1789 (when we got started), 1860 or 1864 (Civil War), 1916 (WWI), 1928 or 1932 (depression, before and during), 1940 or 1944 (WWII), 1960 or 1964 (Viet Nam), 2000 (pre 9/11) or 2008 (financial crisis) to name just a few? Those 12 alone are more than a fifth of the 57 elections so far.
This election might not even make the top half of the most important in US history, though I have little chance of convincing you of that in the face of billions of dollars of advertising and spin telling you otherwise.
One thing does make it important but the political handlers will do their level best to keep you from knowing it, at least about their candidate. That, of course, is the unspeakable dreadfulness of the two finalists produced by the major parties. If you are in any doubt about this, simply move each candidate into the opposite party and listen to the defenders become the fiercest critics.
I was never a Star Trek person but I have a Wikipedia-assisted awareness of Spock, the Vulcan played by Leonard Nimoy. I could do without the vegetarian thing to say nothing of pon farr (mating once every seven years), but the Vulcan absence of emotions might serve us well in ignoring the stupider bits of our election.
Should you encounter any traction toward a more analytical and dispassionate view of this year’s contest, hurry over to your broker’s office to short the stocks of Facebook, Twitter and the cable news networks.
It does not matter if this is or isn’t the most important election ever as long as each side can convince you that it is. Every voting age person in America ranks somewhere on a scale from “rich enough to suck up to” all the way down to “let’s send a van to pick him up on Election Day, but only if he lives in a swing district.” Once you have fulfilled your mission according to where you rank on that scale, you can be safely ignored for several years.
Back to the fault line: where is it and who is on which side? But first a caveat. There is something even more stupid and boring than our election and that is the “universal theory of everything” story.
The format is easy. Fill in the blank following the words “it all comes down to.” You can add anything you want as long as you say it grandly and sprinkle lots of “isms” and “ists” like chocolate chips into the cookie dough. These are best delivered with maximum disdain for the disfavored.
Populism and populist are now much in vogue for this purpose though elitism and elitist are competing ably for highest honors.
Rich and poor are reliable choices for either side of the fault line but this year so are borders: globalists vs. nationalists.
Here is the one I have been considering recently: vertebrates and invertebrates. They differ in their approach to any perceived absence of perfectness.
Vertebrates are those who tend to play the cards they are dealt and make the best of whatever their situation. They are active voice people who look at a situation and figure out a solution to the problem at hand. Entrepreneurs and single mothers struggling to educate their children come to mind.
Invertebrates are those who tend to whine about whatever situation confronts them and wonder what is going to be done to help them. They are passive voice people who look at a situation and complain about the absence of others fixing it for them. The all-time leader in this category is the stock market, which is always whimpering about the need for ever-greater levels of perfectness.
The vertebrate invertebrate fault line is not the “makers and takers” meme from past elections. Pharmaceutical companies are makers but they are price fixing invertebrates bribing their government to enable their larceny. Taxi medallion owners prefer to bribe city councils than to compete with Uber and Lyft. Hotels seek protection from AirBnB rather than improving their offerings.
They are invertebrates along with those who could well take care of themselves but choose the easier path of not doing so. (This is a good place to acknowledge that there are people who are truly unable to look after themselves and that they deserve our compassion and support.)
Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump seem to be competing for the invertebrates, with offers of free stuff or walls and protectionism to keep competitors out.
Neither candidate cares much about the vertebrates who are too busy taking care of themselves to get sucked in by all the silly promises.
The vertebrates are likely to be the least saddened by the outcome of the election because they never thought the campaign promises would be kept in the first place.
Besides, they know the government is not very good at delivering on the lofty ideas.
Yet again the invertebrates will be saddened because yet again they will have been lied to before being forgotten.
Instead of diversity training, we might want to try adversity training. Nobody is going to increase your perfectness for you; least of all the winner of this election.