The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Bad and Crazy Places

Today, about 100 million people will watch the political theater that we call the "presidential debate." In actuality, it's not an real debate and in this bizarre election, it's unlikely to change many voting decisions, unless Clinton or Trump really screws up. Rather than commenting on the upcoming "debate," I'd like to consider the milieu that got us here.

Over the past eight years, the public has watched as the economy stagnated, racial strife increased in intensity, divisiveness was not only encouraged but cultivated, islamic terror attacks increased in frequency both at home and abroad, political correctness went from mildly irritating to insanely intrusive, government grew but its effectiveness cratered, government agencies became increasingly corrupt, foreign policy crashed and burned, allies were spurned and enemies embraced. And that's the short list.

The elites struggled to hold on, telling us that all is well, but at the same time, it became apparent what those elites think about those (the "deplorables") who don't agree with their world view, their governance, or their arrogant certainty that only they can lead us to a better future. It's hard not to feel combination of fury over moral preening that is grounded in generally baseless accusations of racism or bigotry or Islamophobia, anger at their repeated failures on the world stage, disgust at their insider dealings and essential corruption on the domestic front, and concern over their extreme, unbounded efforts to stay in power.

Richard Fernandez addresses how the 'non-elites' are reacting when he writes:
The publics of the world are now subconsciously aware that peril is near to them and are reacting by attempting to partially dismantle the globalized world as manifested by the Brexit and Trumpism. They are doing this because the ordinary person realizes far more astutely than the purblind political class that the current arrangements are much more fragile than described and are retreating to older forms in an attempt to survive. They know, even if their rulers do not, that the storm is not over; far from it. They are battening down the hatches against the gale which must come.
The gale is presaging by a lack of trust in government (exemplified by the corruption and political weaponization of agencies ranging from the IRS to the DoJ to the EPA to the VA to the FBI). As the gale winds begin to blow, the first damage will be wrought by bad actors who now think (possibly correctly) that America has lost its will; that our leaders no longer do anything but talk; that action has been replaced by empty "negotiation" and that the result is never win-win and never in our favor. The storm will hit shore when one of those actors decides that it can injure us grievously with an action that is as horrific as it is predictable. And then ... what?

Under a president Hillary Clinton (the most likely scenario) we'll get a predictable reaction to the gale—the elites will get the politically correct counsel of the same people from the same Ivy league universities who have failed so miserably over the past 15 years. They'll struggle to limit damage to the global network of those in power; proportionality will be the watch word; calm meaningless words (what they refer to as "temperament") will replace any meaningful action, and nothing will change. It's possible that the bad actors (people and events) might recede for a time, allowing the gale to strengthen off-shore.

Under a president Donald Trump, things would be far less predictable—and that alone might give the bad actors pause. In fact, that Trump is viewed by many as unhinged is like the high altitude winds that break up even the most powerful storm by shearing its strength. The gale just might be weakened by uncertainty about how the United States would react to a threat. I'm not sure that a good result would occur under Trump—in fact, I worry that no good result can occur until after the gale has destroyed much and created universal pain.

Holman Jenkins, no fan of Donald Trump, provides interesting insight:
At bottom, it’s this rottenness of American political culture that allows Mr. Trump, for all his flaws as a candidate and human being, to find traction with so many voters. Not because he’s a uniquely attractive individual, but because he’s uniquely willing to violate the political taboos and challenge the status quo. Indeed, his most insidious offense may be his suggestion that some problems aren’t intractable.
For all his flaws (and they are many), Trump does identify problems clearly, is not cowed by politically correct boundaries, and at least suggests that solutions are possible. His politically incorrect suggestion, for example, that we limit immigration from countries with significant support for Islamists stands in stark contrast to Hillary Clinton's advocacy for increased immigration from those places. That contrast was magnified over the past week with Islamic terror attacks in the New York metro area and a likely terror event in Washington State over the weekend.

Peggy Noonan, a keen observer of our country and its people suggests that many 'undecided' voters are asking this question: "Shall we go to the bad place or the crazy place?"

Under Hillary Clinton we'll go directly to a "bad place," and we'll get there quickly. In the bad place, gross governmental dishonesty will become the norm. We'll have no idea whatsoever what a Clinton administration is doing and what the ramifications are. We won't know whether decisions are being made to enrich Clinton supporters or the Clintons themselves or whether they're being made in the interest of the American people. Worse, we'll have a media that protects Clinton no matter what she does, and a Democratic party that seems unable to call her out for the dishonesty and corruption that is an ingrained part of her character. We won't know whether our enemies are using hacked information (from her infamous private server) to blackmail her, or whether they are not. We'll institutionalize corruption far beyond what it is now. As I've noted in an earlier post, corruption is the rot that brings down great countries.

Under Donald Trump we'll wind up in a "crazy place." We'll have a president with a refreshingly clear-eyed view of the domestic and foreign problems we face. But Trump has a mouth that has trouble properly enunciating solutions in an effective way and a brain that thinks bravado replaces both common sense and action. In the crazy place, we'll also have a media that returns to its job—that will aggressively act as a check and a balance against too much "crazy." We'll have a Congress that will also return to its job with both Dems and many in the GOP acting as brakes on too much crazy.

It's a difficult decision—a "bad place or a crazy place." I'm beginning to think that crazy just might be a better option.