We Are Living in a Failed State

“This was the American landscape that lay open to the virus: in prosperous cities, a class of globally connected desk workers dependent on a class of precarious and invisible service workers; in the countryside, decaying communities in revolt against the modern world; on social media, mutual hatred and endless vituperation among different camps; in the economy, even with full employment, a large and growing gap between triumphant capital and beleaguered labor; in Washington, an empty government led by a con man and his intellectually bankrupt party; around the country, a mood of cynical exhaustion, with no vision of a shared identity or future.”

—George Packer, “We are living in a failed state.” The Atlantic. June 2020.

Summarizes the problems of the moment better than anything else I’ve seen. Required reading, particularly by anyone that identifies as Republican or Democrat.

Voting Isn’t Going to Solve Your Problems

“Every time you stay home, someone is making a decision about you, making decisions about the air you breathe, the water you drink, the food your kids eat, and how much money you bring home every two weeks. So, every time you sit out an election, every time you don’t show up because you think it doesn’t matter, someone else is happy you didn’t show up, so they can make that decision for you. Vote.”

-At the end of the video above.

Voting has a place. But, it’s a small one. There’s some measure of decision-making that goes into selecting a Representative, a Senator, or a President. But, let’s not pretend that selecting an elected official is the same as making decisions yourself. It isn’t.

Also, let’s not pretend the field isn’t rigged. Candidates are bad, representing a very narrow band of choice. Districts are gerrymandered. Election campaigns run on money, which mean moneyed interests have more say in who gets elected, more so than casting a ballot at the polls.

By all means, get out and vote. But, don’t expect voting to change much. If you want to change the world, you have to be out in it. Voting needs to go hand in hand with direct action, where you are directly making decisions that impact the world rather than selecting someone else to represent your interests.

Scalzi on Impeachment

Of course, this is just going to make Trump more, well, Trump. The man has never understood why people wouldn’t just let him be king, and narcissists never react well to blows to the ego. If you think he’s lost his shit and been completely unreasonable before, just you wait. Things are going to get worse, much worse, especially if, in fact, Speaker Pelosi frustrates McConnell’s plan for a rubber-stamp acquittal in the Senate. And while there is some schadenfreude to be had with Trump spinning in tight, angry circles about this, at the end of the day he’s still president, he’s still a petty, vindictive little shit of a human, and he has enablers. Expect bad news from this dude. More than usual, I mean, and including directives and policies and proclamations that will energize his most bigoted and violent supporters.”

-John Scalzi, “Impeachment Thoughts.” Whatever. December 19, 2019.

John Scalzi says everything that needs to be on the topic of impeachment.

Attack, Reframe, Normalize and Politicize

The playbook is: Attack, reframe, normalize and politicize. The goal is not rational discussion but repetition. I could write a bot to make far right political comments in Internet forums, and people do. Which leaves the question: how should we respond to people whose ideas could algorithmically programmed and whose goal is repetition? One place to start is simply pointing out what is going on. There’s no point engaging with the content of what is being said because it’s being offered in bad faith.

Blue Wall Voices Project

“One year out from the 2020 presidential election and without a clear frontrunner in the Democratic primaries, a large share of voters –about four in ten (41%)–say they have not yet made up their minds about who they plan to vote for in November 2020. These ‘swing voters’ either report being undecided about their vote in 2020 or are leaning towards a candidate but haven’t made up their minds yet. With a substantial number of votes still up for grabs, this analysis looks in-depth at this group of voters to explore the policy issues that could swing these voters to vote for either President Trump or the Democratic nominee.”

-Ashley Kirzinger, et al, “Blue Wall Voices Project.” Kaiser Family Foundation in cooperation with the Cook Political Report. November 7, 2019.

Four in ten of Americans on their preferred political platform.