When the world was young and Man was new,
And everything was pleasant,
Distinctions Nature never drew
‘Mongst king and priest and peasant.
We’re not that way at present,
Save here in this Republic, where
We have that old regime,
For all are kings, however bare
Their backs, howe’er extreme
Their hunger. And, indeed, each has a voice
To accept the tyrant of his party’s choice.
A citizen who would not vote,
And, therefore, was detested,
Was one day with a tarry coat
(With feathers backed and breasted)
By patriots invested.
“It is your duty,” cried the crowd,
“Your ballot true to cast
For the man ‘o your choice.” He humbly bowed,
And explained his wicked past:
“That’s what I very gladly would have done,
Dear patriots, but he has never run.”
– ‘Apperton Duke’
(Ambrose Bierce; from ‘Man’, The Devil’s Dictionary)
Earlier this day (13 June 2015), a Facebook friend asked Your Friendly Neighborhood Amoeba whom he supported for President of the Untied States of America, in the election to be held in (NB) November 2016.
The occasion was debate over the recently-announced candidacy of Mr. Bernard (“Bernie”) Sanders, junior Senator from Vermont, for election to said Presidency. Mr. Sanders, who, so far as YFNA knows, has no association with fried chicken, has served for 25 years in both houses of the U.S. Congress, as one of the very few congressional representatives without formal party affiliation – though he has caucused with the Democratic Party, and is seeking that Party’s Presidential nomination. Mr. Sanders, an avowed ‘democratic socialist’, has [ahem] left-of-center political views, somewhere between Upton Sinclair and Friedrich Engels, and has achieved a vocal social-media following that reminds YFNA of the supporters (on the other side of the political aisle) of Ron Paul, and, many moons ago, Ross Perot.
YFNA has been critical of the candidacy of Mr. Sanders on numerous grounds, but most particularly on its impracticality. As his status as a political independent telegraphs, Mr. Sanders has spent no readily-apparent time developing a political power base, a party, and without a party in the Legislature to support his initiatives, his proposals as head of the nation’s Executive, however wise or just they may be, would have zero chance of being accomplished. James McPherson, in his analysis of the
Confederate Revolutionary War American Civil War, reported that disagreements in the Confederate government, which was free of parties, became factional or personal, and, as such, ultimately unmanageable. A Sanders presidency, YFNA argues, would be marked by gridlock so extreme that the current situation would seem like the Era of Good Feelings by comparison.
Hence the question, whom would YFNA support for POTUS, if he would not support Mr. Sanders.
Ah, do be careful what you request, dear readers, for you might get it …
At this writing, none of the candidates about which YFNA knows anything (more on this anon) has attracted his attention. He has the same basic objection to each (and this objection also applies to Mr. Sanders): each candidate is addressing a particular constituency – usually, a particular constituency that is remarkably narrowly focused. By thus pursuing the blinkered interests of such constituencies, no candidate demonstrates the potential for disinterested governance of the whole nation.
YFNA’s ideal candidate would tell We the People what we all need to hear, not what some of us insist on hearing, or else. That candidate would be an amalgam of the Winston Churchill of the ‘blood, toil, tears, and sweat’ speech and the Francis whose first actions as Pope were to address, in his own personal life and in the conduct of his office, the excesses of his predecessors – in a manner intended to signal to all, ‘I take seriously what I say’ (global warming ‘scientists’, take note).
Such a candidate, YFNA fantasizes, would call Us out for our screaming self-interests, and get Us to focus on the many difficult problems our nation faces that will require, in YFNA’s opinion, united effort – and united sacrifice – to address, for the greatest benefit of all. Alas, when the drugs wear off, YFNA realizes that the hard data and rigorous analyses required for such a focus have no constituency; a candidate relying on them, however wise and just, would not even come to Our collective attention, never mind be nominated for, or elected to, office.
The standard explanation that’s given for Our unwillingness to hear anything We don’t wish to hear is that ‘the wealthy’ govern what We hear. YFNA begs to differ. ‘The wealthy’ don’t tell Us what they wish Us to hear – We tell them what We wish to hear! Why else did ‘The Learning Channel’ turn into Here Comes Honey Boo Boo? Because trash is what We chose to watch – and ‘the wealthy’, who are very smart people, and learn quickly not to go bankrupt giving Us what We do not desire, are very happy to give us the trash We demand.
Including trash political candidates.
Given his sentiment, that good candidates are hard to find, and, once found, even harder to find offices for, YFNA has paid rather little attention to the Presidential races, apart from – to his shame – reacting to the Sanders phenomenon. He is rather annoyed, especially with himself, about being drawn in to the Presidential race debate a full 17 months before the election! Other nations, including ones where YFNA has lived, actually make it illegal to campaign for office until 90 days before an election – and in this Internet age, it seems a perfectly sensible policy for We the People to adopt.
Indeed, it seems to YFNA that it’s totally disrespectful to those whom We have elected to office, for Us to spend practically the entirety of their terms ranting and raving about their potential successors. Did We not vote these people in for their ability to do a job – the terms of which did not include politicking for their own next election, or that of their cronies? In the early days of these Untied States, a candidate standing for office did exactly no campaigning; it was understood that the candidate (who was either the incumbent or was holding another elected office) had a job to do, and was best employed doing that job and letting others do the campaigning on the candidate’s behalf. Among the first to break with that precedent was Sen. Stephen A. Douglas, who ran in the election that made Abraham Lincoln President, and precipitated the
Confed… American Civil War. Mr. Douglas has a lot to answer for. So do We … for demanding that We hear from the candidates themselves during Our interminable election process.
It seems to YFNA that we disrespect Our elected officials, Our electoral process, indeed Ourselves:
* For tolerating endless elections;
* For distracting Our elected officials from the jobs We assigned them in order to pander to Our demand for endless elections;
* For not funding Our elections entirely through the public purse, with set (and rigid) time and money limits, and disqualification for those who flaunt them (We, not ‘they’, have made Our elected officials ‘the servants of billionaires’);
* For not restricting campaigning to sober listings of work records, accomplishments (and the converse), and position statements, such as the League of Women Voters (wherever they’ve gone off to) have done for decades, and expanded to include speeches and debates presented on Youtube;
* For forcing candidates to make impossible promises to satisfy narrow constituencies, thus setting them up for inevitable failure as life ruthlessly exposes the fantasies upon We insist as frauds.
Whom does YFNA support for President? It doesn’t matter, they’re all named Beeblebrox.
And We the People, YFNA argues, will have it no other way.