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Monday, April 15, 2024

Trump or Biden or Us.

 The New York Times has an article out today that explains that the world is a more dangerous place than it used to be with democracy under threat around the world and a budding alliance among nations that dislike us.  My reaction is “duh.”  Notably, the New York Times does not suggest any remedy.  I suggest that this characterizes the position of liberal America.  Conservative America, on the other hand is hell bent on electing Trump, who they believe will manage things more intelligently.  On the one hand, we are cowardly flakes and, on the other hand, we are miserly tough guys.  Neither approach is going to work.  What is required is a blend of the two, leavened with some common sense, and a massive amount of intestinal fortitude, combined with the patience of Job.

The average person tends to look at individual parts of the challenge facing us - Ukraine, Gaza, Taiwan - while ignoring the less dramatic problems that contribute significantly to the whole - Burkina Faso, Miramar, Sudan, Venezuela, Haiti, Afghanistan, etc, etc etc.  If we are to be successful we must understand that everything is related to everything else and “solutions” must address the whole, not just one of the parts.  Our piecemeal approach sometimes achieves some limited success in one area, but it is too often obliterated by failures in other areas.  Our policy toward Iran being an extreme, current example of our irresponsible foolishness, exacerbated by the flip flop nature of our political system.

We defeated the Soviet Union without engaging in direct war with them, but we failed to wean Russia away from authoritarian governance.  We moderated Mao’s China following Nixon’s opening to China, but failed to wean it away from authoritarian governance.  We sat on our hands while Iran turned from a Western oriented nation to a reactionary state governed by a radical dictatorial group of religious zealots.  We sit by while South and Central American nations increasingly give up governance to organized crime, which is but another form of authoritarian governance.  (The same thing is about to happen in our own ghettos.)  Africa is increasingly governed by military juntas.  Etc, etc, etc…. I argue that democracy is failing to solve humanity’s problems and I see the failure engulfing this country as well.  We are not going to be able to sustain our own democracy if it does not succeed in solving our problems - internal and external as well.  Trump and Biden are not the problem.  You and I are the problem.  Trump and Biden are just the superficial boil that irritates the skin.  The disease that causes the boil lies deeper inside the voting public - you and me.  All Trump and Biden do is try to say stuff that their followers, us, want to hear.

You want to save America?  Teheran, Moscow and Beijing are not the problem.  Our inability, yours and mine, to think for ourselves is the thing that is destroying democracy, but the challenge will not be met successfully by merely saving democracy.  We not only have to think for ourselves, we have to come up with viable solutions to a formidable mix of extraordinarily difficult problems throughout the entire world.  We call ourselves leader of the Free World, but we do virtually nothing useful to help anybody outside of our non-existent borders.  We take the same approach in foreign relations that we do to domestic issues here at home.  Solutions are defined in monetary terms.  That is just plain wrong in foreign affairs just as it is in domestic affairs, but we refuse to understand that money is but one of the elements necessary, and it is not even the most important.

Every one of the issues that roil international relations have their roots in domestic problems in the countries involved in each of the respective issues.  Harmonious international relations will only be achieved when the vast majority of the world is living in acceptable domestic conditions.  Our present approach to international affairs does not prioritize the fundamentals and we spend all of our time dealing with superficialities which ensures that we continue to live in an unstable world.  Our failure to understand this is the greatest danger facing democracy as a form of government and America as a place that is worth living in.  Humans only follow leaders that lead to success.  Success is more important than anything else, including the form of governance.  The only way to protect democracy is to make it successful.  The only way to do that is to stop urinating on each other and start talking to each other in civil tones about real problems in their order of importance.  The difference between six weeks and whatever is less important than starvation in wherever, for instance.

If we are too busy putting dinner on the table at home to think, actually think, about eliminating starvation in wherever, we are too busy to have a democratic form of government, no matter how nice, and caring, and well educated we think that we are.  I frankly use extremes to get my reader’s attention, but economic differences do not have to be at starvation levels of importance to generate conflict.  Humans are greedy little imbeciles and bank balances have to be in relative balance to encourage contentment.  That goes for countries as well as individual humans.  If we want to live though the nuclear age, we had better figure this stuff out sooner rather than later.  (If you want a really interesting discussion, let’s talk about why I believe that personal responsibility is the better way to achieve this understanding than is socialism, but I leave that for another day.) 

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