Observations

Fear and Loathing


This blog is not about politics.  It’s about living with adversity; challenging the hardships that come with life, and living joyfully regardless of the circumstances. It’s about truth-telling, and defiance in the face of overwhelming odds.  It’s one of the methods I employ to try to remain engaged and to have a positive influence, regardless of the fact of my diminishing capability and capacity. Peripherally, it’s also about living with an incurable, degenerative illness.

When I publish a post on this blog, it shows up on Facebook and several other places.  At one time I sent out an email when I published a new post.  I stopped doing that when I started receiving hate mail from Google for spamming the planet.  The address list on my notification email (almost seven hundred addresses long), had become large enough to trigger the spambots.  I’m kind of impressed with that, and grateful to all of you for your interest in continuing to walk this path with me.

I often write about topics that are not directly related to Parkinson’s disease; I enjoy writing, and I’m full of opinions.  I usually make the effort to link my writing back to PD, but sometimes the link is tenuous.  Today’s post may be even more tenuously related to PD than usual.

I typically don’t shy away from expressing strong opinions on this blog, and I typically avoid expressing those opinions on Facebook and other social media outlets.  After all, you come here specifically to read what I write, presumably because you’re interested in what I have to say.  I’m gratified by that.

I’m not going to discuss who I voted for in the presidential election. There were no good choices, and I would have felt filthy regardless of the choice I made.  Here in the real world, there are often choices to be made between unpalatable options, but the choices we had were unprecedented in their sheer crappiness.  And to make matters worse, we did this to ourselves.

Neither of the two leading candidates was worth a damn.  One of them is a buffoon, and the other is a criminal.  One is an idiot, and the other is a liar. One is a liar, and the other is a greedy, slimy, sneaky weasel.  They are both self-serving, avaricious, lying, nest-feathering bags of slightly contaminated water, and the really sad thing is that they were the best we could do.

Not voting was an option, but one that insults every person who died for our liberty since 1776, and every person murdered by an oppressive, dictatorial government throughout history.  Voting for a third-party candidate was an option, in the same way that shouting at the TV during a presidential debate is an option.  You can claim action, but it’s unsatisfying and not very effective.

So – how do you exercise your right to political self-determination when each of the choices is just catastrophically wrong? I received several different opinions when I asked people I trust (all five of you – you know who you are).

1 – vote to minimize the damage.  Vote for who you hate the least.

2 – vote to maximize ineffectiveness.  Go for gridlock, and try again in  four years.

3 – vote for the highest assassination risk.  I actually received this advice from someone.  I’m a pretty irreverent guy, but this turned my stomach. Now there are only four people I trust – you know who you are.

4 – vote your conscience, and assume your vote has no impact on the decision.  Maybe the most messed-up advice of all.  “Every vote counts, unless the candidates are dirtbags”?

5 – flip a coin, make ammunition, and sleep well at night.

I voted.  I did one of the above five things. I am not and will never be ashamed to be American, but I am ashamed of many of my fellow Americans.  We did this; we weren’t careful; we did not consider our best interests; we let hate and divisiveness determine our future.  We screwed up  and we deserve what we got.

And what did we get?  I have been an advocate for focusing on the job that we hire the president to do, and not on the personality characteristics of the person holding the job.  I don’t try to justify President Trump’s many negative characteristics, and I believe that some of the things he has claimed to value are important.  Perhaps he is an evil, obnoxious megalomaniac  – I’ve never met him, and all I have to judge the truth of that contention is the evidence of his actions.

Other presidents have clearly had deficits in personality and morality.  LBJ reportedly cheated on his wife Ladybird at the Chicken Ranch in La Grange, Texas, and according to one rumor had someone killed for showing disrespect to Ladybird.  Maybe he didn’t see the dissonance; maybe he just liked cheating and killing. He was a fairly effective president by most accounts, though.

Kennedy also was reportedly morality-free in his personal life, too.  Even with the poised, beautiful, and dedicated Jackie at his side, JFK couldn’t resist dalliances, most notoriously with Marilyn Monroe. Maybe the power went to his head. There is an old joke that God gave men a brain and a penis, but only enough blood to operate one at a time – maybe JFK is evidence this aphorism is true.  However, he too was beloved by many, even in death many years later.

Bill Clinton – won’t even go there. Too easy.

George W. Bush is reportedly a true gentleman, with old-world Texan respect and genuine love for his wife Laura.  It didn’t save him from widespread hate and derision, though.

Jimmy Carter is a genuinely nice man, a Godly, selfless humanitarian, and by many accounts one of the worst presidents in the history of the country.

The point is that we don’t (or should not) elect presidents based on their likability.  We Americans are too fascinated with popularity contests.  We should focus instead on the job we hire our presidents to do.  President Trump, in my opinion, is not likable.  He’s bombastic, doesn’t consider the consequences of his actions, and is crude and crass. It makes no difference if he does his job well. He may turn out to be an abysmal president, or he may actually be able to accomplish some good things for the country. If he fails to deliver on the job, I will be among the first to hold him accountable. However, let’s focus on the job.

The president has not generated a great deal of confidence in his understanding of the complexities of leading the United States as the leader of the free world, even among many conservatives who agree with many of his stated positions.  In the fullness of time, he may well do a good job. He may also lead us into a radioactive apocalypse. He’s got plenty of people watching him, though, and we have the power of the Framers’ wisdom working for us.  The separation of powers and the checks and balances in the Constitution can keep a power-hungry and reckless president in check. If everyone does their job, that is. Our job is to make sure they do their jobs.

Our job is not to savage each other on social media, though.  My wife Amy and I agree on most topics, but we tend to disagree on political issues.  She is passionate about her views, and it’s one of the reasons I love her so dearly.  Just yesterday, she received a series of threats and insults on Facebook from people who not only disagree with her viewpoint, but want to silence her ability to express it. They called her “stupid,” “idiot,” and several other terms that I won’t repeat.

This is not who we are. Attacking those who have different viewpoints than yours with ad hominem insults and threats is not only cowardly and small, it’s distinctly un-American.  It disturbs me that two of her attackers yesterday were an Army officer and a Texas policeman.  I am a former military officer, and I have deep respect for the police, and I know these two do not represent their fellow servicemen and officers.  Passions run deep in the current political environment, and people sometimes say and do shameful things.  Let’s be careful not to forget who we are, though.

Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster… for when you gaze long into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.

One thought on “Fear and Loathing

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