Once More With Rhythm

It’s like a bad divorce, and we’re the kids.

Mommy and daddy are sitting in the courtroom, contentiously splitting up the old Lionel Ritchie records and bickering over every meaningless detail. Two lawyers are each buying a new Porsche out of our college funds before this is done. And our only purpose for being in the room is to act as another token to be battled for.

Yes, this is a metaphor about politics. Everything is, when you boil it down to essentials.

The midterm elections are already underway, though we aren’t sure exactly which names will be on the ballots. All the old fights are being dredged up to be fought again. This is stupid because (1) nobody wins those fights and (2) we’re ready to fight new ones, over health care and maybe even Universal Basic Income, while neither party will bend enough to legalize pot.

Some simple truths for you, so you can avoid distraction:

  • There is no such thing as common sense gun control. We can’t ban all guns, and unless we do criminals and madmen will always be able to get their hands on guns — sometimes because they’re also cops or soldiers. If there’s a solution, it won’t be brought about this election.
  • Roe v. Wade is the law of the land. It is almost inconceivable that it will be altered even a smidgen by any Supreme Court with respect for the law. If it is, there will be two to three years of restricted abortions before the Democrats sweep the House and Senate and codify it into statute, which is what they should have done twenty years ago. Six out of seven Americans are in rough agreement; it’s settled already.
  • The War On Drugs is over, and we lost. It’s time to stop spending a couple hundred million dollars a year on enforcement efforts that never seem to cut off the supply of drugs. Instead, let’s legalize most drugs, tax the hell out of them, and spend the money to treat addiction.
  • Medicine costs too much. Instead of battling about who pays for what insurance, let’s agree that there’s something wrong with the system and work together to make it marginally efficient.
  • Education costs too much. Ditto.
  • Social Security and Medicare are bankrupt. This is because more people are retired than working, and because medicine costs too much. Fault doesn’t matter; there were always going to be more retirees than taxpayers. The alternative to roving euthanasia squads is threefold: make medicine cheaper, spend less, and find a way to increase tax revenues, likely by growing the economy.

In all likelihood, none of the available solutions will happen. If we get exceedingly lucky, one of them might, but even so most of our energy will be spent fighting battles that have already been won — or lost. This is because politicians don’t solve problems; they consistently run on the platform of Being Less Bad Than The Other Guy, which is only doable if the Other Guy can be demonized into being the problem. Turns out the real problem is the status quo of politics.

If you want real change, don’t get distracted. Focus on one issue and work on it. Find a nonprofit that has a solution and support them; volunteer and spend money. Invest your time; sit on advisory boards. Find a candidate that talks about fixing things rather than empty rhetoric. Worse come to worst, run.

We have a few months yet before the biennial riots are scheduled to begin. (They’re less violent than the ones we have in a presidential election year, but they’re still coming.) Use that time wisely.

Or don’t. You could just complain next year that politics is boring, all politicians are corrupt, the system is broken, and nobody is fixing it. That’s what you did last election. How’s it working for ya?

If what you just read pisses you off, that’s not because it’s wrong. People are wrong every day and it doesn’t get to you. If you’re upset by this, it’s because deep down you’re afraid it might be right.

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