Monday, June 06, 2016

Isn't it too early to be this jaded about politics

I did not vote for Mitt Romney last election.  I did it out of the naive position that he was insufficiently principled; he seemed to be someone who wanted the presidency simply for its own sake.  It was unclear what his specific policies would be, because like his fellow Bay Stater John Kerry, he had occupied a number of positions on his way to a national campaign.  In short, he felt like the Republican Diet Coke of Hillary Clinton.

Looking back, that feels silly now.  In part because I don't really fall neatly into either particular ideological space represented by the two major political parties.  But also because now, when faced with the actual Hillary Clinton as a candidate, that the alternative is a sort of clownish villain.  (I'm thinking more Dr. Evil than Joker...)  It's hard to tell how dangerous he might actually be in practice, but that's a bit of a different question that the previous paragraph.

I don't really have a question about either Romney's or Clinton's competence, or their belief in the formulation of our economic and political system.  My reservations were about the amount of freedom each would take from us, which has been kind of a moot point over the last 16 years as, like when Eisenhower opted not to dismantle the New Deal, Obama has chosen to maintain the surveillance state and pieces of the War on Terror that were largely elective in addition to his interventionist decisions that doubled down on Bush's during the economic crashes.

The idealistic part of the electorate seems to be moving away from what I believe, the pragmatic is lining up behind an obviously corrupt technocrat and the nationalistic is distilling that occasionally compelling spirit into a volatile rocket fuel rather than a sophisticated single malt.  Volatile is the best word to describe it because there is a possible upside to a Trump presidency.  There is floor, though, is more sever and more likely.

I guess it kind of depends on my faith in the resiliency of American institutions.  I think that our institutions are mostly excellent, but if they continue to be populated by people who do not seem to believe in them -- or at least appear to elevate their partisan loyalties higher than the mores of the institutions to which they belong, notably the Senate -- then it may not matter how good those institutions are.

The crazy thing is, at this point, I think I'd pick almost literally anyone of the other serious choices than those who remain in the race.  (Ok, probably not Cruz.)  But man, does it look like Biden missed his moment.  Or hell, Romney.  This time, I think I would have been a little more willing to compromise and choke down the Diet Coke.