It seems that these days, we’re in a never ending political cycle.
You turn on the radio and it’s like BOOM! Trump did this! Or Wham! New polling data shows this! Or Shibby! My team’s ahead!
Politics, as far as I can tell, is a game of winners and losers. People stand up on stumps and on TV telling you why they are right and perhaps more often, why someone else is wrong. There is no room for nuance, shades of gray, indecisiveness, or insecurity. He who is loudest, best wins.
Politics is what we use to decide who gets to govern. Honestly, I can’t see any other real reason we should care so much about politics other than the fact that the winners are those who get to make decisions on our behalf at the local, state, and national level.
So then, as you and the rest of our lovely nation heads to the polls tomorrow to decide who the winners and losers are, I ask you, “When do we get to talk about government?”
Government, as best as I can determine, is an exercise in compromise. Bringing together elected leaders from across the political spectrum to make choices about the right way to intervene positively in people’s lives. Government is about all those aforementioned things that politics is not. Government is hard. Government is complicated. Government makes mistakes.
But nooooo, we don’t get to talk about actual issues and policies and meaningful shit anymore.
(A brief note on my inclusion of the word “anymore.” I’m not sure if people ever talked about government. I know they haven’t in my adult life, and I’d entertain an argument that it’s been that way forever. But there’s always this nostalgia of the way things used to be. And based on my conversations with those more, we’ll say experienced, than me, it appears that the civil discourse at some point was slightly more policy focused and if nothing else was certainly not as “I’m right, You’re wrong” as it is now.)
We only get to talk about who wins.
Now I believe there’s a reason for all this. The most famous governments in world history are only known for focusing on one of two issues:
That’s it. I would hypothesize that you can’t name a single famous legislator that is not most known for helping their people to get out of or avoid economic slowdown or win or avoid war. Until the modern era, those had been so far and away the most important things.
But as we know right now, our economy is in the midst of one of the most impressive runs in history and the foreign conflicts we are dealing with today pale in comparison to the violence we’ve participated in over the last 250 years. So that means that if we’re going to talk about government, then we have to talk about really difficult, really weird, and really hard to understand issues:
- How quickly will climate change materially affect our lives and to what magnitude?
- Does the ever-increasing National Debt get to a point where our ability to borrow is affected?
- What’s the right way for medical care, both preventative and reactive, to be delivered to our citizens?
- Who is responsible for taking care of the elderly population of America?
- Who even gets to be an American?
And those are the fun ones! What about some of the really murky and difficult to understand issues:
- In what cases should our government carry out extrajudicial assassinations against foreign combatants? What about our own citizens?
- How, if at all, should the government protect the rights and power of organized labor against management?
- Should there be term limits for members of the judiciary? Congress?
- Is it fair to redistribute wealth? If so, how?
- To what extent is digital warfare a bigger danger to our lives than fights where people actually die?
Yeah…good luck at a cocktail party with those softballs!
But enough with the highfalutin mumbo-jumbo, let’s get back to tomorrow’s elections.
When you see the election results come in, people are going to be making wild claims about how this is a mandate! Or that voter turnout in <insert basically anywhere> is responsible for this disaster! Or that a new day has dawned in America!
“Anderson, it’s as clear as the day as long! The people have spoken!”
And let’s be completely honest. What you’re really going to hear about coming out of tomorrow’s election is…
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN FOR 2020?
That’s right! I would bet damn near the entire farm that the only material thing that will be discussed in the wake of tomorrow’s results is what it means for what? POLITICS!
So I’ll ask you one more time, “When do we get to talk about government?”
Let’s make it now. Let’s stop pretending like it matters that much who wins and who loses? It doesn’t. It really doesn’t. What matters is what they do once they get to Washington. Or Des Moines. Or the local courthouse.
Make America Govern Again.