Don Rogers: A prescription for insanity
Put me with the mushy middle, among the unimpressed unaffiliated, a cranky centrist, more than a bit incredulous at the ideologies in vogue.
I’ve become a fan of balance, resigned myself to gridlock as the best answer for the moment. There are no good choices now.
The Republicans have lost their souls, the Democrats their minds.
The supermajority in our state has only helped bring on San Francisco’s homeless tide, widened the gulf between very poor and very rich, deepened a statewide housing crisis, and for all its propensity to nanny allowed PG&E to continue decades of criminal neglect.
We’re the most poverty stricken state in the union by some measures, and that’s with Silicon Valley and the fifth-highest GDP in the world. Absent Big Tech, we’re New Mexico, Louisiana, Mississippi.
Yeah, I think California’s headed for trouble. The Progressive agenda — chock full of unintended consequences — is running hard toward a reckoning, perhaps ruin. Gravity will not be overcome. Free lunches demand payment. Utopian movements go the other way.
So I find myself voting Republican for every state office and Democratic nationally. I’m casting ballots cynically, to be sure. In the absence of inspiration, a vacuum in today’s politics, no good choices, well, I’ve gone systematic, straight ticket.
This crude balance makes the most sense while The People can’t recognize the virtues of the middle way, the give and take of statesmen and women leading to the best possible decisions, compromise a gift even if you don’t get everything you want.
The “wisdom” of crowds has proven a crock. The social media networks carry poison. Turns out, Facebook’s OK with the ugliest lies so long as they’re voiced by and for politicians. I’m still scratching my head at that one.
And political news, whew. With half the journalists of a decade ago gone and an explosion of media outlets online, I guess we shouldn’t be surprised the news inevitably comes flavored left or right. We must read across our leanings to have a prayer of making sense of opposing accounts of the same events, as well as recognize commentary, like this, from a news report. Was civics class ever more important than now?
Of course, I would see it like this, watching at least fairly closely and politically closest to the moderate Republican abandoned in a nightmare from which the base may never awaken.
But why can’t we have sensible economic policies and embrace people with different skin colors, creeds, cultures and orientations? Why can’t we use science as a sensible guide vs. jamming fingers furiously in both ears or embracing an overrich Green New Deal? Why do we have to buy one or the other party’s hysteria, rhetoric and so, so much nonsense?
Yes, I know why. Because we’re human. We’re far from the rational actors we pretend to be and economists like to model, hostage to all the limbic wonders that saved us in the savannah and jungle but endanger us now.
Still, I remain optimistic for the longer term, a hundred years on. Surely as our prefrontal cortex grows we’ll figure this out. We’ve evolved. We’ll keep evolving. This is life’s way, maybe God’s plan.
Today’s a hot mess, I know. But would you trade this time for World War II, the Civil War, before the Magna Carta? We lynched people in this country into the 1950s. Women couldn’t vote until 1920. Good Christians defended slavery with Gospel.
I take heart we’ve grown up at least a little as a species over the millennia. By nearly all measures, today we’re smarter, safer, healthier, wealthier, better educated, less violent than ever. Our pattern in the face of doomsday predictions throughout history has been broad improvement.
Yet the stakes grow higher with each crisis we solve or kick down the road. Weapons of mass destruction. Global hunger. Natural disaster. Unnatural catastrophe stoked by us. Our population may well have eclipsed Mother Earth’s carrying capacity, fouling air, land and water.
And here we are, caught up in endless jousting between R’s and D’s, like that’s what matters most. What a luxury.
But of course the jousting does matter with the implications for society and the world. We still don’t realize we’re all in this together, the way we’ll surely hang.
How we each make our choices — through habits, votes, actions, decisions — adds up to how our civilization collectively fares, perhaps even survives.
Enlightened self-interest might be the best we can hope for, heavier on the self-interest, given the semi-rational nature of humans. Our politics, at least in this era, have radicalized. Our politicians have, anyway.
To my thinking, the last thing we should do is let one crazy party gain too much control. That’s a lemmings’ leap, as I think we’re seeing in D.C. and Sacramento. A political Hippocratic oath would make a nice prescription for insanity.
But I’m dreaming. For now, gridlock will have to do.
Don Rogers is the publisher of The Union, Lake Wildwood Independent, and Sierra Sun. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-477-4299.