This summer solstice sees the political season in high drama. We are finally seeing the failures of modern American politics in its naked glory. Republicans are about to implode and Democrats are forced to hold their noses and feel OK about at least electing the first female president. No matter if she is really not much different from all other neoliberal capitalists in her ideological stances. America, you have your choice between ridiculous and dangerous or cunning and probably more dangerous. Take your pick.
“As ye sew, so shall ye reap,” according to a biblical verse paraphrase. Jews, Christians, Muslims, and Hindus (among others) have this notion in their traditions. You screw somebody up, you're going to get screwed.
First let me say I am not letting the liberals off the hook either. In their own way they have screwed up a lot and it is also coming back to bite them in the arse. But right now the focus is on the Republican party and its monumental breakdown and unbelievable candidate for president. If there were to be a future history written, this would definitely demand at least a chapter.
But aside from the really stupid strategic political blunders the party has made over the past decade, the real punishment they are receiving comes from the unprecedented stupidity of the G.W. Bush administration coupled with the overarching denial of climate and energy sciences. Their collective unprecedented greed and complete disdain for intellectual talent has been a primary cause of the number one carbon burning nation eschewing mitigating actions while there was (perhaps) time to act meaningfully. The Republicans have blocked any real possibility that we might have started earlier and more strongly to reduce carbon emissions. They are also prime movers (though with Obama's tacit approval) in the push to drill-baby-drill for more oil and gas (as well as keep up the extraction and burning of coal) in the form of fracking and encouraging Canada to mine tar. Why? Because they earnestly believe that making more profits is the solution to every problem.
I sincerely hope the Republican party destroys itself. Unfortunately even if that happens the ideology doesn't go away. The belief in the neoliberal capitalist, maximize-profits-at-all-costs concept dies hard. When you have a pack of greedy idiots lacking the smallest amount of critical thinking you are going to be faced with a continuing barrage of stupid decisions in politics and governance.
The Democrats' Road to Hell
Good intentions are not enough. Bernie is to be applauded for bringing to attention some real inequalities and the need to change the system to mitigate them. Hilary, for her part, seems equally caring for the lower income class and recognizes that something in the system is working against them. But she will be the last to realize that a good part of the blame can be placed at the feet of her dear husband's centrist policies which fully bought into the neoliberal capitalist model of economics and made bedfellows of the banker/wall street crowd. I don't expect Hilary to denounce those policies anytime soon. In fact I simply do not trust her to open her eyes to reality at all. I had a glimmer of hope with Obama during his first inaugural speech when he actually mentioned how we would all be called upon to sacrifice our comfort in order to work for a future. We saw how long that lasted. When he hired Larry Summers and Timothy Geithner I knew he was bullshitting everything. And the too-big-to-fail bank bailout followed by zero prosecutions of bankers told the whole story too clearly.
Liberals are often characterized as the humanists, the people who deeply care about people. But Democrats are liberal in name only. They too care mostly about profits and getting rich, rationalizing that rising tides raise all boats. They too are willing to sacrifice the lower class and the future for their own greed. That road to hell is paved with good (claimed) intentions.
The Real Culprits
America, you get what you deserve. Ask any random American on the street what the salvation of our country would be and they will likely say pretty much the same thing. "Economic Growth" is the salvation of our country. For Republicans that might translate into more fossil fuels and keep out immigrants who will take away jobs from citizens. For Democrats that might mean let in more immigrants who will boost the economy by working for minimum wages (which they make a big deal about raising). They have slightly different slants on the main issues, but ultimately they believe in the same madness. The neoliberal capitalist economy will grow itself to a better world.
It is the American public that has insisted on an education system geared to produce job-ready graduates to the detriment of thinking citizens. It is the public that has allowed itself to become mindless consumers shopping at WallMarts (which leads to shipping jobs to China to cut costs). It is the public who now, in there mindless ignorance, think someone like Trump is needed to shake up the status quo — the very same one they themselves created. Everyone is to blame here. The politicians are gutless and cannot provide real leadership. The education system has kowtowed to commercialism and ignorant parents. The business sector has succumbed to mindless pursuit of short-term profits which would be made easier if they could hire slave-ready workers directly out of school.
Simply put, the politics we are witnessing is our own damn faults. This is what we deserve for being so stupid and greedy. There are very few members of our society who can be counted as faultless (and believe me when I tell you that includes me as well).
So the real question is do we learn anything from this fiasco we are witnessing? Do we do anything differently? Do we even see the absurdity of it all? Judging by the number of Trump supporters who are acting like storm troopers and the Hilary supporters who are putting feminism before rationalism I would say we probably are not. At least not as a nation. There are pockets of rationality. I have talked to many people who readily see the absurdity of the current situation. But will they make a difference?
On a Hopeful Note...
My official last day of being a full-time professor (teaching) is Aug. 19. I am not teaching this summer but I need time to clean out my office! I am going to devote my time now to full-time systems research and writing. I believe that if there is to be any hope whatsoever of finding solutions to systemic problems it will be through systems science and engineering. Of course, as most of you probably already realize, what I think we will find to be “solutions” will not be the solutions the neoliberal capitalist believers count as solutions.
The system language paper I mentioned previously is near completion. It looks promising. I do plan to share with readers more details in the future, but need to focus on getting it published in a recognized venue before divulging too much.