Monday, November 21, 2016

You Terrify Me and I Hate You
...Now Help Me

 The most terrifying words in the English language are: I'm from the government and I'm here to help—Ronald Reagan
     The sentiments expressed in the Reagan quote above have been around and ingrained for a long time. God only knows how many millions of Americans believe their government and the pols who run it are at best do-nothings and at worst corrupt and malefic. They stand in contrast to, say, the French, who instead of fearing the government have through their heads-up politics gotten the government to fear the people.
     Many, if not most, of these same millions of Americans voted for Trump because they felt abandoned and abused by the very Washington they abominated. It was like getting angry at your evil witch of a stepmother for leaving you out of her will as she always promised she would.
    The Trumpens were said to be furious at their loss of jobs, the influx of immigrants, and the shattering of their communities. Lots of them felt that being white no longer gave them them a goose up on the national pecking order. They conveniently forgot that for decades they had voted for the pols and policies they were now blaming for their miseries.
    So they cheered at Trump’s promise to build a wall to shut out undocumented immigrants, even though the fact was that the vast majority of them get into the U.S. by overstaying their legal visas.

     They believed that a realtor for the richy rich with a long reputation for ripoffs and his likeness in the dictionary under the definition of megalomaniac could make things like they used to be when the white man’s writ ruled and store signs were still in English.   
    So why were conservatives and their kith expecting help from the government they detested?  Why were they complaining about politicians and plutocrats lining their pockets when that’s exactly what popular modern day conservative-inspired capitalism is all about?
    The answer? It comes from the very conservative Henry Mencken a century ago: no one ever lost a dime by underestimating the intelligence of the American people.

    Imagine an Academy Awards presentation in which none of  the judges had seen any of the movies in contention but had voted merely on what they might or might not have heard about them.   That’s a ringer for our political system.  Millions who know and care little about events apart from those of their daily existence are called upon on election day to pick political leaders whose politics are a mystery to them. So they vote their feelings, their attitudes, their casteism, their hopes—anything that doesn’t require knowing how our system works.  And thus we end up with the likes of Trump. The only slight saving grace here is that half the populace, not knowing and/or not caring, never bother to vote.  Perhaps they have internalized the old Wobbly dictum that if voting could change things it would be against the law. Nah, they never heard of the Wobblies.