history, humor, politics

After 202+4 Years

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In 1814,

the British Royal Navy bombards the fort guarding Baltimore’s harbor with state-of-the-art artillery.  The attack inspires a mediocre poem that is just barely singable (if U pretend that “yeh-et” is a word) to the tune of a British drinking song.  The Brits eventually get a consolation prize for the failure of the seige of Baltimore, when their song becomes our national anthem (but with lyrics from the poem, not the pubs).

On the morning of Election Day in 2016,

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I find that the Pink Rebel (a Xmas cactus that blooms when it damn well pleases, and never at Xmas) has a nice blossom.  I take that to be a good omen. Good omens have been in short supply recently, as the pseudoconservative coalition of bigots and plutocrats bombards a wobbly electoral process with state-of-the-art ratcrap, propelled by dark money and deep resentments.  The pseudoconservatives hope for veto-proof majorities in Congress as a consolation prize, if they cannot install a protofascist buffoon as President.

My local polling place is crowded.  The people who run it have finally found an efficient way to arrange all the stuff that must be crammed into a tiny room in the firehouse: a sign-in table, little booths for marking the ballots, and a machine to scan the ballots and keep them secure in case a recount is needed.  I have finally remembered to remove my ballot from the privacy sleeve before feeding it to the scanner.  (It is only in theory that the scanner can grab the ballot by an edge protruding from the sleave.)  The scanner accepts the naked ballot w/o fuss.  Walking back to my car after an unexpectedly smooth and quick process, I tear up a little.

I have just now experienced an America that is calm and polite and competent.  For how long?

On the morning after Election Day in 2016,

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I rise with the dawn’s early light and go online to see the results for races that were not foregone conclusions.  Mostly vomit-worthy, with a few consolations in the Senate.  The Dems will keep the NV seat that Reid is leaving.  The new Dem for IL is a combat veteran who knows the difference between patriotism and posturing; a seat for NH also flipped.  Maybe filibusters can keep the pseudoconservatives from passing the very worst things on their wishlist.

For at least the next 4 years, I expect that American politics will not be calm and polite and competent.  I hope I am wrong in this prediction, and not wrong merely because of surrender by those who oppose the pseudoconservative agenda.

Remember Mitch McConnell’s declaration (soon after the 2008 election) that preventing a 2nd term for Obama would have his top priority?  I was angered by that commitment to reflexive opposition (regardless of the cost to the nation) to whatever Obama might propose.  So I will try to keep an open mind.  It is conceivable that Trump will surprise everybody (even himself) by growing quickly and well into his awesome new responsibilities.  But not at all likely.

What is likely?  Zombie economics and accelerating climate change will lead to global suffering comparable to the Great Depression of the 1930-s.  Less likely (but still far from being alarmist hype) is the possibility of descent into thinly veiled fascism.

Yes, our traditions of liberal democracy are stronger than those of the Weimar Republic in 1932 and 1933.  The question is not whether our traditions are stronger than Weimar’s but whether they are still strong enough to withstand escalating bombardment from pseudoconservatives who have honed expertise at selective vote suppression.  The land of the free has its share of people with authoritarian personalities and deep resentments, often legitimate but exagerrated or misdirected.  As did Germany in the 1930-s.

The Royal Navy bombardment in 1814 was 202 years ago.  After the imminent 4 years of intensified pseudoconservative bombardment, will our flag be still there?

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Star-Spangled Banner at the Smithsonian Institution

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11 thoughts on “After 202+4 Years

  1. Thanks for the thoughts and post, Mel. I am optimistic, in the long run. But as Keynes said, “in the long run, we’ll all be dead”. But not our progeny. “Nonzero” by Robert Wright changed my life and outlook. His thesis is essentially that it is inevitable we continue getting better and freer, in the long run. But I’m actually optimistic even in the short run. I believe in short order Trump will try to govern misogynistically, xenophobically, and autocratically. One way to look at the numbers was that he was electected by a razor thin margin ( http://www.cosmopolitan.com/politics/a8265143/almost-half-eligible-voters-did-not-vote-election-2016/ ). There are too many good people to let him get away with having his way and just a slight swing in backlash brings in a whole new “anti-Tea Party” Party. Maybe I’m being naive. I have been accurately accused of that before. Hope not this time.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It is as Keynes said. In the longer run, our little blue planet is dead. In the longest run, the whole damn universe is dead (ripped apart by dark energy). But we still do our jobs and pay our taxes. We still prove theorems and write poems. There is something grand about that.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Ah, I emailed you with my broken heart after Election Day and was glad to commiserate with you for a bit. I remember your upside down flag and did the same with mine. I put it right side up after a couple of days, but my heart is still heavy.

    Did you hear that Green Party nominee, Jill Stein raised 4 million dollars for a recount of Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin?

    Liked by 2 people

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