“It might not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS.” – Les Moonves, former CEO of CBS, on Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
Recently, in response to a discussion on social media, I shared an article about the presidential election of 1876. Those elections took place in a polarized climate not unlike that of today. It also produced a disputed result and a crisis. The so-called “Compromise of 1877” was a Congressional-brokered agreement that awarded Republican Rutherford B. Hayes sufficient votes for the Electoral College to secure victory, in exchange for the promise that he would then withdraw federal troops from the south – an action that precipitated the end of the era of reconstruction.
A growing concern among many Americans is that President Donald Trump will not gladly leave office if he loses the election in November. This is not, in my opinion, a completely unreasonable concern. Trump insists that the only way he can lose is if the upcoming elections are rigged as he does everything he can to sew chaos and disorder in his path. He also actively encouraged the insurrection if the outcome does not go his way.
This is why I could never support Trump. While I think much of his opposition is, in many ways, as bad as he is, Trump is a completely self-centered cheater with no other beliefs than survival. I doubt Trump ever cares about anything other than the next few hours.
The one thing I’m sure Trump is worried about beyond the next few hours is his chances of staying out of jail if he loses in November. Because the prospects are not very good. Hence his insistence on remaining in office until his death.
Now, this is the time every week when people on the left reading this column start thinking that since I just hit Trump, once again, I’m back to me.
Not so fast. I’ll let you down, as usual. Be patient.
My contempt for both the far left and the extreme struggle in this country is no secret. It may not always be exactly the same proposition, but it’s often pretty damn close.
The right has abandoned every principle it once stood for, at least apparently, to support a number of strong candidates for the worst person in the world. Any principles they once held that stood in the way of winning elections and acquiring conservative judges have been betrayed or forgotten. The list includes science, morality, respect for the law, decency and family values.
I am intrigued by the concept of the right to create a society guided by high moral values with leaders who have none. With me, it’s a tough sell.
The left, meanwhile, has been busy promoting costly social engineering based on questionable premises, tenuous legal reasoning, and poor social science. Most of the achievements of the left over the past half century – the Civil Rights Act, Affirmative Action, welfare and many environmental initiatives – simply have not produced the expected or desired results.
Did they push the boundaries of legal precedent and decorum? Creating cultures of law? Making life difficult for many small businesses? Paving the way that Donald Trump is now using for his own means? Yes, yes, yes and yes!
But vessels of demonstrable social progress? No.
Explain to me, for example, how Affirmative Action did well enough to justify the widespread right and the resentment it generated. If we are serious about addressing the plight of underrepresented in this country positively, we don’t need guaranteed results in the back end, we need guaranteed access to good education in the front end, starting with kindergarten. But investing on the input side of the social equation is much more difficult than waving a magic wand on the output side and ensuring results that aren’t based on useful merit.
I also challenge anyone to tell me that racism, sexism and xenophobia are not real problems. They are. But you’re not staring at any of them in our current trajectory.
Magical thinking on complex issues spans the ideological spectrum of our society. The disrespect for the truth and the embrace of hypocrisy on the left and right in this country is breathtaking.
The left postulates that we should, without evidence, “believe women” when Brett Kavanaugh or Donald Trump is in the hot seat, but not when it is Bill Clinton or Joe Biden. Law is about law and order until Donald Trump ignores it. The left thinks that occupying and defacing federal and state buildings is okay, but only when it’s Black Lives Matter and not Ammon Bundy. Just change the order of some terms in the previous sentence for viewing from the right.
I could go on like this for a long time, but I won’t. All I will say to conclude this part of my diatribe is this: a smallpox on both of your houses. Many of us would like to vote all of you off the island.
I think something like this may actually be the “2020 compromise”. I suspect most of Central America is tired of the noise, amplified by the media, coming from the left and right.
A showdown may be coming. Just not what the minions out there are ruining for.
Most of the people who build businesses, who create art, science or technology, who make the world a better place by doing the thousands of little things that count every day, are too busy to block traffic and occupy autonomous zones or to break the doors in order invade the legislative sessions. They just don’t have the time to do it.
Most of these people don’t even pay much attention to CNN, MSNBC, or FOX. If they have time to read, they are smart enough to consider different sources when evaluating the news. And they are not inclined to embrace disinformation from either the left or the right.
Here is a possible omen of things to come. Ratings are plummeting for much of the media. That said, I think it’s not out of place to assume that busy people are tired of being disturbed every time they take some free time to tune in to a game or watch a concert, regardless of the message.
You don’t get a political or social limit from the controller at the supermarket, so why should you get one with any other service you pay for? Everyone has all the freedom in the world to express their views on their time, but not mine. Especially not on my penny.
There could very well be a significant social upheaval in a few months. But when it’s over, I think none of those currently clamoring for a fight will be happy with the result. Most people in this country may be too busy for a lot of nonsense, but if you push the issue by bringing them to their doorstep, be careful.
If the critical moment comes, the result will most likely boil down to numbers. This does not favor the slackers at both ends of the political spectrum. It doesn’t bode well for most of the contemporary media either. I think most of us are tired of the division encouraged by the media as a source of profit.
So all of you left and right indulging in fighting, you could get what you want. Personally, I would like to grant your wish now, just somewhere far away so that the rest of us can get on with our job of doing the best we can.
Be that as it may, if your intent is to impose your BS on the rest of us by bringing your battle to our front doors, you’d better bring some game too. Because the numbers are on our side.
And most of us don’t really like any of you.
Martin Hackworth of Pocatello, an award-winning Associated Press and Idaho Press Club journalist, is a retired physicist, writer, consultant and faculty member from Idaho State University who now spends his time raising children, growing llamas, going to mountain biking and motorcycle and playing guitars. His video blog, “Howlin ‘at the Moon in ii-VI”, can be found at facebook.com/HowlinattheMoonin251 and on YouTube at bit.ly/2SN745k.