I thought I should write something about this primary season before I miss it altogether. As with everything else, my level of interest in the process seems to be diminishing with every cycle. I still care enough about the overall well-being of
My wife, who in contrast to me is known to and liked by the progressive crowd, was invited to a Bernie Sanders house party, but she declined to go because she supports another candidate whom she believes to be the inevitable nominee anyway and she does not think that the presence of Bernie in the campaign serves any useful purpose to the goal of electing this other candidate. I have not as yet been invited to anything other than a generic robo-message inviting me to a Chris Christie pancake breakfast in a town about twenty minutes away. This event took place at 8am on a Tuesday however, which is not a convenient time for me. I guess I am pretty close to being a stereotypical representative of the Bernie Sanders constituency, persuaded as I am that the economic arrangements of the New Deal era were not that terrible, appreciating his efforts to conduct his campaign at at least a high school graduate level of discourse,generally wanting no part of the Darwinian aspects of the capitalistic arena while hoping to maintain some respectability. The conventional wisdoms that he is so far outside the mainstream and that his positions are in some sense absurd strike me as odd. The most fervent supporters of his in New Hampshire whom I know tend to be quite affluent and seemingly successful in the various meritocratic and capitalistic competitions which define our society, and do not give off the least indication that they are concerned about the confiscatory taxes on their substantial and hard-gained incomes that would inevitably follow upon their man's election. The gentleman who hosted the house party referenced above, while something of a new age type, is a lawyer with an international background who travels all over the world and one of whose children at least attended the famous St Paul's Prep School. The other big supporter I know of has a stylish modern house on a good plot of land in the country, and her children also attend boarding school. I do not know what the source of either her or her husband's income is, but they both project the easy, comfortable force of the capable professional class.
That part of Bernie Sanders's platform where he says he wants college to be free has been much mocked by the practical men and ideologues who have a vision of their coffers being raided yet again to throw away on worthless people, but I have heard him (Sanders) explain the rationale behind this on several occasions, and it is not without a certain logic. The argument, as I understand it, is that in the past, when society, for lack of a better word, or some substantial or influential portion of the collective polity, determined that it wanted as many citizens as possible to enter upon adulthood with a high school education, and to in many cases require that either as a condition for employment, or for advancement to a more secure and lucrative position within employment, it was grasped, eventually anyway, that the providing of this education, or the opportunity for it, on the mass scale required would be the responsibility of organized governing bodies at various levels, which public version at least should be free. Bernie Sanders argues that we have come now to the same state with regard to college, or post-secondary training resulting in certification or a degree at any rate, and that if society is going to insist on people having these credentials in most instances to have any hope of earning a sustainable income, that it must, as formerly with high school, offer the opportunity to obtain this education to everyone at no personal cost. I do not know that I agree with this position, and I am not optimistic that it would work in the way that it would be supposed to work anyway, but there is a practical issue of too many people not being productive or self-sufficient or otherwise engaged or positively contributing well into adulthood, if ever, and there being very little structure or guidance or apparent interest on the part of the greater society to assist them to become so. This is a gesture at addressing a part of that problem anyway.
Hillary Clinton. Yes, I think she is probably, if not precisely evil, more corrupted of soul even than is standard for a professional politician, at this point. But for all that I still don't think she actively wishes the American public, or the completely docile and harmless portion of it anyway, ill will if it can be conveniently avoided. We are constantly assured by the media of how brilliant she is, and doubtless she is possessed of a high general intelligence, but her public speeches, campaign literature, and so on are aimed, clearly intentionally, since her husband did the same thing, at voters in the vast middle of the intelligence distribution, which is politically savvy in the current system I suppose, but is frustrating because the country really needs a more sophisticated political discourse, especially from its leadership Though no one seems to be saying this, I assume that her entire campaign and the lack of any serious opposition to within the ranks of the party establishment is premised on the idea that somehow she, and the people around her, presumably veterans of her husband's administration, will be able to restore some semblance of the fondly remembered prosperity of the late 90s, that perhaps all of the difficulties in the intervening years really could have been avoided with competent leadership. What else is she running on? She has a commercial out about the pay gap between men and women, which takes a tone that seems to me likely to be unnecessarily divisive, especially in the general election, given that most men do not, and cannot regard themselves as riding especially high these days, and probably are not in much of a mood to be taken down any further pegs by feminist political candidates. The pay gap anyway is one of these issues that is always presented as an absolute truth, and an evil one at that, without regard to context, fruitful examples, explanations of whether these wage differentials where they exist reflect some kind of official policy, whether there is any legal recourse if this be the case and if not why not, and so on. I don't doubt that there is something to the pay gap, but the reasons for it are a little more complicated that some of the rhetoric would have you believe, and I doubt in most instances it is of a kind that Hillary Clinton or anyone else will be able to legislate across the board pay raises for every woman in the country (or pay cuts for the men, if you prefer that).
I actually saw a couple of twenty-something girls wearing Carly Fiorina t-shirts walking around my decidedly off-the-beaten-track neighborhood one day passing out flyers. I happened to be driving and in my usual hurry at the time, so I didn't have the opportunity to speak to them. I really would have been curious to know why they were working for her, why they thought it would be a good idea for her to be president, etc. They looked very normal, almost as if they lived in the neighborhood. No make-up, no jewelry, no expensive hairstyle or clothes, none of the air of impatience or educational or financial hauteur that often marks the young political operative or even volunteer from out of state. I know we are supposed to get over the fact that everything Carly Fiorina says or does basically screams out that she is a flat out bitch, because that is sexist, and we love it when Donald Trump behaves in an equivalent manner (though I don't), but I don't understand what her redeeming qualities might be supposed to be. I can't see any.
Among the Republicans, Christie, though I guess the evidence points to him as being more than ordinarily evil too, strikes me as the most interesting candidate, and certainly the most convincing as a person who might actually believe, in a self-generated manner, the things he says. Perhaps it is because he is from the northeast and his persona is familiar to me. Ted Cruz might as well be from another planet, the same with Rubio, Carson needless to say, nothing in their entire worldview has relation to mine. I guess Christie does not come off to me as a rigid ideologue, though I do not like his displayed tendency to personally attack and even savage ordinary people who are opposed to his positions...
I'll have to end this now and maybe do an update in January before the big day. I couldn't even get to stating my positions on the college racial insurrections, the Paris terrorist attacks, Syrian (and other) refugees, the obsessive and unquenchable fury of good modern people about the Japanese detention camps set up in America during World War II (Yes, they were wrong, but people seem to have gotten over the Japanese, you know, bombing Pearl Harbor and waging aggressive war against the United States, while the detention camps and atomic bombs dropped by the Americans on Japan are crimes eternally unforgivable). But as I say, I'll have to get to all this some other time...