Thursday, October 1, 2020

Democracy's Tragic Flaw


I opted to go to my online banjo class while the Presidential “Debate” (not worthy of that word) was on and that was a great choice. But I did catch some of the last 15 minutes and that was enough to consider calling Poison Control and find out how to de-tox. The number was busy for the next three hours. Obviously, I was not alone. 


But I was encouraged by the fall-out, the fact that so many noticed Trump’s behavior and were disturbed by it.  Even undecided voters were calling him annoying, immature, a crackhead and comparing the debate to fingernails on a chalk board. That gave me a sliver of hope that people were finally waking up to who this guy is. 


But two things darkened my enthusiasm:


1) Undecided voters?!! Really? At this stage? Did you miss the long list of transgressions against decency, morality, fairness, the American people? Did you notice that he was impeached? Did you hear about the things he said about and did to women, black folks, Mexicans, Muslims, veterans, journalists, children, etc. Did you notice that he refused and continued to refuse to criticize neo-Nazis, Ku Klux Klan members, Proud Boys and other violent white supremacists? Did you care? Well, obviously not if you’re a member of these groups, but here I’m talking to white suburban college educated women and men. I’m just curious how you could make it this far and be an undecided voter. Please explain.


2) Worse yet. You watched this debacle and were clearly disturbed by it, but then some of you said “This won’t necessarily help me decide who to vote for. It’s still a toss-up.”

Really? Excuse me for a minute while I go outside and scream.


“Never underestimate the stupidity of the American public” is the paraphrased Mencken quote that keeps reminding me that, though the majority of people I personally meet are capable of coherent conversation and some semblance of actual thought, there seem to be a lot of people I don’t meet that are “several bricks short of a barbecue ,“ (as they say in Australia, on my list of countries to flee to if the unimaginable comes to pass). 


Democracy is a great idea, but it is wholly dependent on a population capable of thinking, on being informed, on caring about thinking and being informed. It needs people capable of distinguishing between hype and truth, spin and straightforward talk, fancy and fact. It needs people capable of seeing when someone is trying to sell them damaged goods. It needs people capable of caring not only for their own self-interest and the long term interest of their children and grandchildren, but also caring about their neighbors and fellow citizens. 


Well, if you, dear reader, are one of those people capable of these basic human faculties—and I know you are—then I’m not saying anything new here worthy of your consideration. If you don’t make the cut as described above, there’s a 99.99% chance you won’t be reading this and even if you did, you’d end up saying something like, “Well, it was interesting, but I’m still undecided as to whether I prefer truth or lies, good or evil. Frankly, it’s a crap shoot.”


So why did I bother to write this when I could have been practicing the banjo? Back to the real work — Bum ditty bum ditty bum ditty bum…


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