Saturday, March 21, 2020

Less Bad

I watched Trump lose his temper when a reporter questioned Trump's instincts to put the best spin on our collective COVID 19 prospects. I cringe at the way that those surrounding Trump on the podium have either been instructed or have intuited the self-interest to praise "The President" above all else. Their praise may be functional, in this instance, no matter how much I may wish for still better experts whose gag-reflexes would be engaged by the current show.

On some level I just don't care, so long as what is being said is less and less wrong. Decisions are being made to ease the pain of workers, and for sure social distancing is the only responsible dictate. I don't care who's making the dictates, so long as they're correct and that person or body is believed.

I do care that we never allow a dictator within these United States.

The same evening that Trump lost his cool in the morning, I became aware of "Our Cartoon President" on Showtime. To me, this feels like a gleeful look at how absurd politics has become. Still, I was shocked. Glad in a way, but shocked. Amused but scared. Still, comedy has ever been the only proper response to such twisted structures. Even kings had jesters.

The Chinese are moderately gleeful that their depictions of what's wrong with American democracy are being played out so large. They make fun of our amateur government; our government of amateurs. They feel justifiably proud of how they flattened their own pandemic curve.

Our government was designed to be run by amateurs. We hoped for and expected smart amateurs to be elected from among those prominent in their private affairs. They would, in turn, employ the experts so that the amateurs - removed from the fray - could make sound decisions.

What we've gotten instead are professional politicians in an arena where no decent amateur would hazard personal exposure in a zillion years. Private wealth has entirely trumped public service. The Author's naming convention has been rather too obvious, no?

Trump has had the practice of a long life of chutzpah, so that he's immune and shameless when he cheats the weak and tells lies in public. I doubt he has even an inkling of wrongdoing when he cheats contractors out of payment, or profits from bankruptcy on our collective dime. He seems only proud of winning, and convinced that winning requires losers. We're all losers now, if we don't agree with him.

But finally, he seems to understand that we are all in this together, and he's in the hot spot. So who wouldn't lose their temper there?

Something less than half the country seems to think that he's the right amateur. As one among the hordes that doesn't think so, I still have to give him credit for deprofessionalizing politics. The direction is less bad than where we had been going.

We were doing utterly nothing about global warming; nothing about polarizing socio-economics, nothing about the AI of profiteering from behavior predictions. Nothing about the destruction of free and public education. Of course Trump has been wanting us to do less than nothing about these things. But when things come to a head as they now have done, he does seem to defer to the experts, so long as they hail him as the one who brought them together.

We have done plenty about homophobia and even racism despite Trump championing a belief system which is bizarrely xenophobic, nationalistic, and climate-change denying, no matter what a stretch it seems to be to group such things together.

I guess it's not the dumb belief system which prevails when something important has to get done. The corporations which are doing their "all" in this new public/private partnership face their own existential threats from the virus, after all.

Trump doesn't like to lose, and that's probably a good thing for all of us right now. The timeline toward November seems about right, provided that we get the absentee voting system securely in place.

Biden's apparent ascendancy guarantees that we won't be voting about a belief system, perhaps sadly. We may be voting about how much change we can abide in the midst of a failing economy, and a failing healthcare system.

For the most part, that question should answer itself: we much change nothing less than enough.

There has got to be enough change to bring back a modicum of trust in government. There has got to be enough change to bring back some trust in our economy. That may mean dethroning some of the titans to spread the work out more broadly. It may mean single-payer healthcare right away. It will certainly mean someone more thoughtful and temperate in the executive slot.

Biden is OK by me. Warren would have been a lot better. Put them together and I'm fine. Frankly any of the women who were running would be fine with me. I don't think that we can abide the corrosion in the body politic any more than we can the infestation to our human bodies.

I confess that I don't believe in any Author in the sky. I wish more of our politicians would confess that publically. I would have more faith in them.

I do believe in universal love. I mean cosmic love, which makes, I believe, a perfectly coherent definition for the appearance of life and its evolutions across billions of years in an otherwise vacant cosmos. Those billions of years are present in the moment that is us. That doesn't mean that we are the end of evolution.

We are finished if we become so arrogant.

Life that is finished is no life at all. Life that is eternal is no life at all. And there is no going backward from here. So long as we don't allow our very local pride to run away with us, it's not so hard to discern the beauty in what we have become. Let's learn to celebrate that all over again.

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