I had a dialogue, so to speak, with a hothead on OS about why people vote or don't.
She or he had enough of the lies and manipulations of politicians so they weren't going to feel forced to vote. They'd had enough of everybody telling them what to do, and this was how they were going to teach "them."
I commented that the blogger didn't understand democracy--the sort of thing you'd teach in a tenth grade civics class, but they weren't listening to any of it, not a word. The system is obviously corrupt and only a fool keeps falling for it. The fury was unmistakable.
I became the "authority" telling them what to do, a set-up for their projections--a dupe for democracy--a challenger of their assumptions. It wasn't unlike conversations with other hotheads I've had over the last four or five years, thanks to the wonders of blogging, which allows them to speak, and for the rest of us to figure out what's going on in their brains. It ain't the mainstream media folks, that's the point.
Millions no doubt feel the same way, which explains a lot. Politics is an extension of their needs, they have no use for it, it's a dirty business, everybody who is anybody knows that. They're on a higher level. Once the disillusionment has set in there is nothing to discuss, no compromise, no objectivity, no understanding--only remorseless anger.
The history of democracy in most (not all) advanced nations shows a lessening of belief in the merits of our form of government as time goes by. The electorate becomes enfeebled by choice and obfuscation. The growth of a ruling class is perpetuated with less and less reliance on the consensus.
They have only their followers to convince, the needs of the greatest number and in our case the middle class becomes less and less a matter of concern. Forget about those who haven't made it onto the ladder. You can lie to them and make up anything you want. It doesn't matter. Even our age of instant communication hasn't changed that.
I think that's what we are seeing. It leaves the US more dependant than ever on the growing forces of ideology and militancy. A genuine reformer can come along and the reaction to them is overwhelming, especially if he has been successful in bringing about reform, and threatening to lead in a new direction. The enemy is change itself.
If the right is held in check, it is usually only because they overstep their bounds, as Bush did, or there is a major crisis and moderates come out of the closet for no other reason than to try someone else. That's how Obama got elected the first time. The right didn't think he had a dog's chance in hell, so looked the other way.
I don't think that's what's going to happen this time. The cultural backlash of a threatened established segment far outweighs any political considerations about any candidate or policy. Romney could be a tin robot who speaks out his ass and they wouldn't care. Bush was easily the most inarticulate president in my lifetime and he was re-elected. Fear and ignorance far outweigh a rational approach. Liberals can talk themselves bluer than blue but it doesn't matter.
We saw it when Bush was re-elected after taking the nation to war under false pretenses. We saw it when Clinton was almost impeached for reasons that had nothing to do with his presidency. We saw it when Kerry and Gore weren't good enough, and now I'm afraid we're going to see it destroy a president who managed to enact the most significant piece of social legislation since "The Great Society" regardless of the risks to his staying in office.
If by some other fluke, Obama is re-elected, on the local level the results are going to be disastrous and his ability to govern will be even further stymied, and only the Washington "elite" will know the difference. The cynics of democracy will get their way once again. The angry will win by default and the rest of us will be stuck until the next crises.
I used to think of moderates as a hopeless mob of followers, but now I see them as the bulwark of democracy, keeping the fanatics at bay. Most of the hotheads, sad to say, are from my generation who codified the attitude of withdrawal. As Brokaw said, "they were last seen in their VW bus with the 'make love, not war" bumper sticker and were never seen again."
Many of them and their "intellectual" heirs in this county and out are resolutely fixated in 1968, adolescents until the end. I now believe if the center does not hold, i.e. those who still believe in democracy, the basis for insurrection will grow from either the gun tottin' right or the naive left. The fringes will win.
I won't lapse into the usual declaration of the apocalypse. It's a clear indicator of the fanatic of any stripe. Always the appeal to fear and a past that never was, or some imaginary scheme like libertarianism.
I'll live with another retrograde president because you refuse to vote for the candidate most likely to represent your best interests. I understand your need for the perfect candidate in a perfect world. You have gotten tired of the demands of democracy to be won generation after generation. You've been spoiled and don't know it. I've gotten used to it. The hotheads won't give us any other choice.
It's going to be hard watching Romney smirk at us for the next four years, very hard.