Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Election 2016: Our Deep Malaise

Feeling anxious and strung-out? Worried about where America’s headed? Worried about where’s America’s gotten? Feel like you’ve no good choice in this drawn-out campaign nightmare?

Me too. Election 2016 has put me on edge. I’m pulled this way and that. I’m convinced, like many, that we've been pushed to a precipice, and there’s no way back.

“But which precipice will it be?” the Fates seem to be asking. “You don’t know now, do you? Just wait and see.”

And the Fates wink mischievously. And their mischief is more menacing than playful.

One thing I’m sure of in this mess is that Americans are no longer fooled by the political class. These recent months have proved it. More than anything, the election battles we’re watching are about a single glaring fact:

A corporate-controlled government and democracy are mutually exclusive.

Yes, it’s finally out in the open. The corporate-sponsored puppet show we’ve been watching the past couple decades is not in fact democracy. What’s more, it can no longer even impersonate democracy.

Though I’m glad to see Americans are finally wise to Washington, I’m not so glad about where they take it from there.

On the one hand we’ve tens of millions opting for something like a fascist solution.

“What we need is a strong leader who tells it like it is and puts everyone back in place!” they cry.

Strong leaders can sometimes do great things, indeed. I just wish the strong leader they chose wasn’t such a moron. Conviction grounded in principle is one thing. A buffoon aping conviction is something else. And racist convictions--well, they shouldn’t be tolerated.

But is this buffoon we now see cavorting across the media really a racist? Or is he just being labeled one unfairly?

Before offering my own answer, I should point out that I don’t go along with the hyper-sensitive current PC definition of racism. I think one can say all manner of things these days that will be called out as racist, but that aren’t actually so.

And yet, even given my pretty thick skin regarding what is and isn’t racism, I’d have to say that, yes, Donald Trump is a racist. The things he’s allowed to happen at his rallies prove it. For America’s sake, I wish it weren’t true. It is. Trump is not to be trusted to lead a multiracial society.

But in opposition to this Fascist Clown Solution on offer, we’ve also a European-style socialist running, a man driven by true convictions rather than just aping conviction.

Bernie Sanders seems to me the only contender who’d actually fight to loosen the corporate stranglehold on our polity. Whether or not he’d succeed is a different question. But I can understand people’s strong belief that Sanders offers the best blueprint for the coming years. I largely agree with them.

Yet there are caveats in my support for Sanders. These have to do with the rise of political correctness.

I'm sympathetic to many organizations fighting injustice in America, and I recognize that the black community especially has valid grievances. Nonetheless in recent years I’ve become convinced that PC as a general phenomenon is a serious threat to our culture. On many crucial issues, and especially in their strategies for addressing issues, our social justice warriors are dead wrong. On campuses across the country, they’re destroying what little is left of American liberal education. Which is no small loss. Liberal education and pluralist liberal principles are necessary to our democracy. Speech codes, “safe spaces” and trigger warnings are not. Not to mention the nonstop demonization of all things European that passes for Humanities these days.

This SJW crowd largely backs Sanders, and they’re probably right to do so. I suspect Bernie himself never met a social justice warrior he didn’t like. Which leads me to question my own support for him. I’m a strong pluralist and Catholic, an avid believer in both Western cultural traditions and religious liberty protections, both of which have taken a beating under the PC onslaught. I’ve every reason to fear the justices Sanders would nominate to the Supreme Court. Bernie is not, by any means, my ideal candidate.

Then there’s Hillary Clinton. I’ll acknowledge straight off: Even a Trump nomination would not induce me to vote for Hillary. They don’t currently market nose clips reliable enough to allow me to vote for her. Hillary is, in my reading, something like the worst of both worlds. She will empower and pander to the SJW crowd even as she cheerleads the ongoing corporate dismemberment of our economy. She will do the bidding of the military industrial complex and the abortion industry with equal glee. Hillary is one of the few things I’m sure of in this election year. She is no good.

Many fellow Democrats point out to me that Hillary agrees with Bernie on nearly all the issues, then they ask: “Why would anyone who supports Bernie as you do not also support Hillary if she were the nominee?”

I have an answer: “Because while Hillary may agree with Bernie on a whole range of things during the campaign, this does not at all reflect what she would actually do once in the White House.”

Good Democrats refuse to hear this answer.

Would a Hillary administration be better than a Trump administration? I suspect it would. In the way that being slowly worn down into nihilism and despair is better than being beaten up by a drunk clown.

I hope you see my point.

If in the end America pushes its voters to choose between a fake Democrat and a fake Strongman--between, in short, a Total Sellout and a Fascist Clown--I will be very tempted to say: “Sorry, friends, I’m not going to dignify this election with my vote. Or rather: I’m going to write in the imperfect candidate who at least seems to me a viable candidate.”

If things keep going as they are, many Americans may end up doing something like this, and the candidate they write it may be Bernie, or John Kasich, or who knows. Bernie is more what a Democrat was before the 1990s. And Kasich is more what a Republican was before Fox News and friends dumbed the party down to what it has become today.

Admittedly, none of the above offers much help given the precipice we face as a country. And that is why I, along with so many others, am worried about what the Fates have in store.

Eric Mader

My new book Idiocy, Ltd. is now available at Amazon.

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