Milan Vodicka: Season’s greetings
Another season! Holiday season? Winter season? Post-election season? Pre-inauguration season? Pandemic season? Any and all, and more?
Images of people dancing and being full of joy, after it was announced that Biden won the election, are still fresh. Yet big shadows of “follow the leader” people are still around. The question is “Why?” Seventy million of the shadows in this country. Why?
I am genuinely intrigued by this question. So are others. Many explanations appeared in the media, ranging from motivation by “power at any cost” to, in the extreme, racism.
I shall touch on three possible factors: 1. systemic considerations; 2. traditions; 3. external conditions.
The first factor is epitomized, “Would you like your eggs easy over or scrambled?” If faced with this question while ordering a breakfast in a restaurant, a person typically asserts his or her freedom by choosing one of those offered choices. The omelette is not on the radar screen.
The second factor manifests as individual or organizational inertia. Marriage to tradition. This tradition may be embedded in a stereotype. “I am a liberal.” “I am a conservative.” “I am pro-life.” “I am a believer.” “I am (fill in the blank).”
The third proposal suggests that “it is the external conditions that determine the voting preference of an individual.” Economy, “neglect by the elites,” taxes, government, health care, viruses, education, and on and on.
Let us look at the electoral system at the presidential level. In essence, we have two candidates, one Republican, one Democrat. The others (the “omelette”) are wasting your vote. They cannot compete (due to the all-mighty dollar, media access, etc.) We also have the Electoral College, the only choice.
The systemic boundaries are very real. They make or break what is happening or will happen.
The current system demonstrated that the majority popular vote did not prevail over minority (represented by the Electoral College) in 2000 and 2016.
Consequently, it was the minority that was given power to govern. Is this “all people are born equal”? We may be born equal, but equality quickly disappears due to the system.
I conceive of the counter-argument to this consideration, sending it to the dustbin. Unquestionably, it is possible to “reason” any verbal statement. It is because for any (verbal, not necessarily factual) truth there exists not-truth. This opens the possibility to play the system, as con-artists, liars, and some ignorant people do.
Historic example: Researchers asked ordinary Germans at the end of World War II why they kept fighting to the point of a national catastrophe even though it should have been obvious to them that Germany had lost. Their answer: ”Our only choice was victory or death.” Germany at that time had a population of about 70 million.
Some people’s minds are glued to the system’s proposed or sanctioned alternatives. Based on their subjective and selected (consciously or not) criteria, they will stand defending to the utmost their selection.
The tradition manifests itself in, “I am a Republican, I shall always vote Republican.” “My family has a history of voting Democratic.” Even if the arch-devil was in the my party candidate’s cloak, I will (must) vote for him or her. Hence, historically red or blue individuals, families, communities, and states.
Tradition also promotes the adherence to some obsoleted parts of the Constitution. In particular, technology is very different than it was 200 years ago. Traditionally, wave the flag, be “a patriot,” as a pinnacle of human values?
One tradition-based exchange jumps to my mind. One of my friends said, “We Americans are strong individuals. Our individuality will always win.” Winning and losing aside, American or not, how can any person individually compete with a multinational corporation, say Amazon?
To win the presidential election takes resources — mental, material, and human. It takes money. It takes the collaborative and coordinated effort of many. Tradition can help or hurt this effort, yet it should not be the only measure for what candidate to vote for. For many of the 70 million minority that voted, it might be.
For the third factor, external conditions, my father once told me, “If you wrap a piece of anything into a gold looking paper, somebody will buy it.” The promised future (perhaps of “greatness”) might be this gold wrapping.
Enough of that. Have a happy holiday season! Happy new year!
Milan Vodicka has been a Nevada County resident since 1978.
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