Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Fights For Us

I noticed years ago that the ads for Democrats running for office trumpeted that they would fight for you, while the Republicans insisted they would work for you.  I mistrusted the former and approved of the latter. While it is true that sometimes people do need to be fought for - that's a lot of American history, really - it can lead very quickly to bad places. As for working for us, the thing Trump most insisted he would do is build a wall, and the thing Democrats insisted they would do is impeach Trump, but neither has happened two years later.  They still might, but I notice that all of them in Washington have been eating very nice dinners and drinking very nice scotch nonetheless.

I then noticed that "fighting" started creeping in to the Republican appeals about 10 years ago. I don't consider this a good thing.  The image of needing people to fight for you comes very much from the idea that power is concentrated in the hands of the few, and you ain't one of 'em, so you need someone to go in a break a few heads.  The Democrats have their 1% that they think need setting in line - well, no they don't, exactly.  They keep saying that, but then they kick other groups instead - and the Republicans rail against "elites." Either or both may be true, and we may indeed have gotten to the point where fighting in some sense is necessary, but I still mistrust it.

Power is widely distributed in this country.  That is still true, and all appeals that if we can just get a relatively few bad 'uns out of the way we'll get everything in this country going right again lead to soft paranoias. (I think hard paranoias exist independently of the political culture.  There are people for whom paranoia arrives, then they go looking for who it is that is ruining their life.) Whether we define it as power over others, or power to do what we want, it is still widely distributed.  We may say we hate the intrusion of Washington politicians into our lives, but the local police and the local zoning board have more power over you.  And you have power over them.

Political fighting may sometimes be necessary, but we should get off that as quickly as we can afterward.  If we are going to influence the country, lots of work is going to be more to the point.

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