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The Snappings-back to Come

There comes a time when things get stretched out. And then there is the snapping-back. Expansion and contraction. Not just financial, but ethical, procedural, and on other axes, too.

At some point, the US Congress will find itself overwhelmed with investigating the present and will busy itself enacting new restraints. At some point, online advertising will be regulated, not just against a malignant Russian Federation’s meddling, but against the ordinary scams we see advertised every day on sites big and small.

The bailouts of polluters will come to an end. The protections of financial companies, drug companies, and other overlarge snowflakes, long seen by some as too fragile to have real regulation, will terminate.

We see it now with the public recognition of Harvey Weinstein for the depraved exemplar of power run amok he is. We see shadows of other exemplars coming into focus, yet to be queued for their runs through the wringer. These things take time.

But there are axiomatic protections we should seek out as a society. Diversity is among these, not just of race or sex, but of background and of philosophy. Of saying, even if single-payer might be best, we can still walk calmly into that future rather than leap into what might end up badly. If tax cuts are so wonderful, we can cut taxes a point at a time and see the results unfold.

Why tear the Brexit bandaid off, risking reopening the wound it covers? Why not soak it, loosen the adhesive and then pull it off a bit at a time? The same goes for the Kurds in Iraq, the Catalans, and so on. Rome was not in one day built, and yet so many want to see every imagined panacea poured down the throat of the world at once.

In Colorado and the rest, they have legalized marijuana. The successes there seem destined to spread a new march against a failed war on drugs. And the less slack we leave, the more gradual the expansion, the less severe the contraction when we go too far.

We should reject all the Republicans who want to full-throttle their policies. But we ought also reject the Democrats equally on that measure. If the ideas be good, a pinch should convince before we go for the pound. Any politician that says otherwise is looking to rip us off. And they’re doing it, folks. We should unseat them.

Would You Rather? Politics

Brexit, the Turkish Referendum, and even to some extent Donald Trump versus Hillary Clinton.

During the 2016 Republican Primary, Lindsey Graham said choosing between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz was like asking would you rather be shot or poisoned.

“Would you rather…” a party game that, in its darker incarnation, poses two abhorrent options and participants must choose.

It seems that modern democracy has become a variant of this game. Instead of the pair of equally horrible, though, it is either a choice between one extreme and another, or at best, between the status quo and the extreme.

On Brexit, the choice was stark. All-or-nothing. Either leave entirely, or stay. No possibility of offering a chance to renegotiate the points of pain for the lean-leaves. Same with Turkey. Either Erdogan got his shiny new toys of doom, or he didn’t. They weren’t given to the people to say, “Well he can have this one, but not that one.” It wasn’t a gradient vote.

Would you rather… have a democracy that gives more moderate options, or watch the whole world spiral down the drain, one extreme choice after another?

This one-way mess is getting us into trouble. It’s turned our self-governance into a game of WYR? rather than a mechanism for compromise. I would much prefer the pendulum became a plumb bob, pointing at the earth we all must share. We badly need to stop giving into every fear.

And, of late, it’s all conservative extremism on parade. In Russia, in Turkey, you have conservatives seeking to pimp out their states, to make them prostitutes for personal enrichment. In Britain, no longer great since it turned its back on shared-responsibility in Europe, you have May hoping that the people are dumb enough to increase her majority at a time when the conservatives have already blundered their future in a fit. In France… we shall see.

But at some point this all has to swing back to the other extreme. Not equally bad, but still not measured and incapable of producing the sorts of long-term planning we need.

That Whole Trump Thing

To defeat Trump, one must first understand why he wins.

The reason I oppose Trump is the very reason Trump has any headroom to run for office. The people supporting Trump aren’t solely racists, and anybody who thinks it’s just racists should pay more attention. More importantly, racism isn’t some social disease. It arises from very specific conditions, just like Trump himself has.

Those conditions are ones of apparent marginalization of a formerly privileged group. Of apparent loss of income and mobility. And so on. In other words, the undereducated white men that support Trump feel trod upon. Some of them may be racist, but most are just scared of losing out.

That’s why the whole “Stop Trump” movement, facing down a beast of its own creation, sounds a bit out of tune to me. You don’t defeat racism with a fist. You defeat it with a smile and a helping hand (same way you defeat most other social problems). The government has an empathy problem: if you can’t muster lobbyists, the government doesn’t give a damn about you.

So Trump is now lobbying for all those folks, because there’s a loophole in the Constitution: the people, including undereducated white males, elect the government.

Historically, a large share of Trump’s voters would have been helped by the Democrats. That all changed in the 1960s, when the Democrats moved to help black folks in the civil rights movement. The Trump folks all migrated to the Republicans, who continued to not give a damn about their real problems and mainly focused on social issues to win their votes.

The Democrats continued to not do much for the Trumpites. For one thing, they’ve had to struggle to push their agenda against the Republicans, and since Trumpites didn’t vote D, they had no quarter on the D agenda.

But sooner or later such a bloc will tend to foster movement.

To stop Trump, the platform has to be inclusive. The safety net has to be strengthened and lengthened and broadened. Those poor dumb crackers need some help, too.

The Republicans won’t do that, of course. Trump voters by-and-large lack the main attribute the Rs care for: deep pockets. That leaves the Democrats to fight harder to help people who vote against them. Of course, that would eliminate the Trump problem, but would also make the Rs more competitive.

In that, the Democrats have a free-rider problem. The Rs need the Ds to be their welfare sugar daddy, taking their trash out while they sit on the couch and yell about how they want the trash left alone. It is a conundrum.

Main point being, sure, tirade against his racism, pull whatever stop Trump rabbits out of all the hats in world, but for God’s sake, also address the problems that allow a Trump to even exist. Fix the broken employment system. The broken healthcare system. The broken immigration system. Fix it all. Anything less, and you might scare away the Trump, but there will always be another one lurking, ready to try to steal a system that doesn’t give a damn.