Thursday, March 22, 2012

Big and Little Questions

Did a hate group really swing the election, again? Did the Democrats nominate a Republican? Is there any stopping the Rahm and Madigan machines? Should progressives bother with the Democratic party? Do the bankers control everything? Should people protest the NATO summit? Why did almost no one vote? Why can't Obama be the Obama we thought we voted for? Are online ads, robocalls, or cable TV ads effective? Is there any way to reduce the influence of money on elections? Is it more productive to focus on causes than elections? Can we ever get a viable, enduring third party? Will the US have the kind of violent uprising so much of the rest of the world has seen? Should we? President Romney, really? How is the weather in Canada these days? Costa Rica?

I am discouraged, but I haven't given up. I had the privilege of working with a great bunch of young people who are gaining the skills that the country will need if we are to be a democracy. I didn't have to deal with any cynical political consultants. I backed a candidate who remained true to his principles throughout the campaign. I saw a lot of friends from prior efforts who are still involved.

A minister I talked with the other day said that the important thing isn't whether you reached Heaven or Hell, but what you do in your life that might get you to either place. It's probably true in politics, too, that the effort is what is important. Still, some better results a little more often would be nice, too.

I will be at the unity rally, expecting lots of talk about lots of things that divide us from Republicans, and very little attention being paid to that which could unite us all. Maybe that is best. When Republicans talk about what we all have in common, they usually end up talking about uniting the people they think are like themselves and converting, imprisoning, deporting or killing everyone else.

How many cancers and deaths will result from the Japanese nuclear reactor failures? From the Gulf oil spill? How many people will be impoverished by genetically engineered foods? By international financial manipulation? Can humans survive global climate change? Should we? Why can't we have wind-generated electric energy? Will the military ever stop terrorizing and killing people? Whose baby has to die before we get universal health care? Does anyone really believe that guns don't kill people? That corporations are people? That marijuana should be illegal? That making abortions illegal will eliminate abortions? Will we ever overcome racism?

A sixteen-year-old campaign volunteer asked me a bunch of questions about political campaigns. His questions were better than most of what we heard in a whole season of Republican presidential debates. I think it is because he wasn't overly deferential, he wasn't trying to impress anyone, and he really wanted to learn. How refreshing.

Having sifted through many theories, I still cannot understand why people who are suffering because of particular political policies vote for the very politicians who support those policies. There can't be that many stupid people, can there?


  1. Great piece, Lee. As for your final question, I fear the answer.

  2. It is not that people are stupid. It is because they are indifferent, overwhelmed with matters they think they can control, and frustration.

    Politicians are not leaders. They follow the sentiments of people who care. It takes dramatic incidents to arouse the public to insist on change.
    Most of the people who "should" lead are fat and happy, or don't want to get their hands dirty, involve their families, or disturb their
    way of life. That is until they feel threatened. Maybe that is why that guy in Florida shot that unarmed black teenager.

    People will eventually wake up, but it will be too late.

  3. Did a hate group swing the election? Lee, don't go overboard. Next time bring a reasonable candidate forward. Only then can we test out your theory.