F&L 2020: Enthusiasm Gap


Be warned: I’m about to start blaspheming here, though not against any widely respected or even recognized faith.

My target is not a god per se, but rather certain beliefs fervently held by adherents of political parties — who, if they know me well enough by now, have already stopped reading. Which is fair enough; if I fail to lend credence while they impugn my faith, why should they pay attention to someone kicking at the underpinnings of theirs?

I call it a faith advisedly, for how else could one describe the unquestioning acceptance of so many fundamental precepts? From these hang myriad misconceptions, and these are so far apart there’s little hope of cooperation between the major parties. And yet, they’re also more or less completely false.

Consider just this: We’re told that more Americans didn’t vote than voted in 2016, and we’re asked to believe that our present circumstance is down to the hundred million who didn’t even bother to register. But this begs two questions: first, would they have voted for The Other Guy; and second, isn’t it more that neither party ran a candidate who would have inspired people to vote for them? Besides, it turns out that, of the hundred million who didn’t vote, fifty million live in California — which went for The Other Guy anyway.

We’re coming down to the wire for the elections, and I’m not really sure what else to write about them. It’s all been said, hasn’t it? Biden was chosen undemocratically, but then so was Trump. Biden’s mediocre at best, and Trump’s the lowest common denominator. Biden plagiarizes; we only wish Trump would plagiarize because it would confirm he has the ability to read. And so on.

But once again, we’re confronted with a choice that is no choice. There’s almost nobody that thinks either Uncle Joe or The Donald is the best possible pick — though at least Little Donnie generates some enthusiasm among his followers. Joe is just… well, Joe. He likes trains. And this is not a bad thing; I like trains too — but I don’t believe this makes me an interesting person, much less someone worth voting for. It’s not inspirational.

The one thing Uncle Joe brings to the table that his predecessor failed to do is that he’s not widely detested. It’s actually really tough to dislike the man; he’s pleasant and civil, kind and patient. His gaffes are incomprehensible rather than odious. There are rumors about his character, his touchy-feely nature… but they’re rumors. Against a presidential candidate, with all the vetting and opposition research that can be brought to bear, “just rumors” means there’s no substance to be found.

But is “not being hated” really enough? Well, polls suggest it is; Biden routinely leads by eight points, and the way things look electorally, if Trump fails to carry both Florida and Pennsylvania — both states where he’s way down — he’s going to lose the whole thing.

But if he doesn’t, it’s not the fault of people who won’t bother to vote. We could have had any number of inspiring candidates to get enthusiastic about; instead, we’ve got… this.

Party leaders, you’ve got nobody to blame but yourselves.

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