Milan Vodicka: Post-election blues
The election is behind us! Whew! It seems that the United States survived its closest brush with the possibility of becoming an autocratic state — in some aspects with a downright communist-like cult of personality.
The fundamental question that arose for me is this: Why is it possible that 70 million plus people voted for Mr. Trump? Considering his public persona of a nasty bully to everyone and everything that did not or does not comply with his narcissistic path? Considering his disregard for science? Considering many more character and professional deficiencies for the presidency? Those traits are manifested throughout his life and his four years-long presidential run.
It might be useful to look at the conditions surrounding and underlying the current situation. These currently existing conditions enabled what transpired.
I am choosing to address four of them: (1) the Electoral College, (2) the two political parties system, (3) presidential power, and (4) the role of the media (communication system).
The Electoral College does not make any sense in this modern time. It was conceived and put into practice some two centuries ago. The concept is obsolete, just like traveling from coast to coast on horseback or using feathers of birds, dipped into an ink well, for writing.
The obsolescence of the concept is evidenced by the disparity between outcomes of the popular vote and the Electoral College results — see 2016 elections. “One person one vote” does not pass the test of equality here.
If one of the two parties — no matter which of the two, Republicans or Democrats — has the majority, the minority party has to oppose. If it would not, the very reason for its existence would vanish.
Generally, we all live in the dualistic world of opposites. If there is “that,” it automatically means there is also “not that.” And we label the opposites, for example, “light” and “darkness.” “Darkness” becomes real — while actually being an absence of light.
The system of three or more political parties would call for bridging the opposites by making alliances, collaboration and compromises necessary. The same reasoning in the old Rome Republic led to having three governing consuls. It is why the Supreme Court has an odd number of members. “Two” often means impasse, “gridlock.” Nothing gets done.
Another salient consideration, an important one, is how the minority is treated. Contrast here “we are all Americans” with “all Democrats should be shot.” See how the last Supreme Court Justice was confirmed, by the system that favors the majority. By giving it an iron fist and a boot on the neck of the minority. Filibuster and super-majority (60 votes in the 100 members of the Senate) were meant to be breaks on the autocratic majority rule.
Speaking of power in the Senate, a single voter in Wyoming yields about the same influence as one hundred Californians together. “We are all created equal…” Really? This serves as an example of the opposite inequity. Minority holds the disproportional power.
Before Donald Trump, I never realized what awesome power the president holds. As a single person, he can revoke international treaties (our part in the Paris Agreement, Iran nuclear deal), adopt tariffs affecting all domestic and even global trade, direct military presence or non-presence worldwide, pardon whomever he sees fit, and — in the extreme — launch a destructive war.
Yes, executive orders. We do not have a monarch, while we do. “The most powerful man in the world” phrase acquired a new meaning for me. This makes even more significant who the president is.
Finally, the media. How to recognize what is the “free speech” and what is “lying?” Who can accomplish that, by what standards, by what means?
Interestingly, in the past there existed the FCC Fairness Doctrine. It required holders of broadcast licenses to cover topics of public interest and to present contrasting views.
Of course, this is not happening now — especially on “social media” (Twitter, Facebook).
The media became one-way streets. Hence the bubble of Trump supporters or opponents who do not see or hear anything but the one side. For them this one side is the truth. Fake news! The demise of this FCC rule is a contributing factor for the rising level of party polarization in the United States.
With these conditions, what will the future be? Changing them, would it be different?
Milan Vodicka has been a Nevada County resident since 1978.
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