WHISTLING PAST THE GRAVEYARD
“Six blind elephants were discussing what men were like. After arguing they decided to find one and determine what it was like by direct experience. The first blind elephant felt the man and declared, ‘Men are flat.’ After the other blind elephants felt the man, they agreed.
Moral: We have to remember that what we observe is not nature in itself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning.” – Werner Heisenberg, 1958
If Brad Pitt decided to run for president on the Democratic ticket, he’d win. He fits all the criteria: he’s a liberal who telegraphs empathy and humility; he looks lived-in, signifying experience; he always plays the affable good guy, so he knows morality like the back of his hand; he voted for Obama and supported the ACA; and he never has to pay for sex and never will.
Obama was Brad Pitt, and so was Ronald Reagan. Brad Pitt could shoot someone on 5th Avenue and not get arrested. If Bernie Sanders were Brad Pitt, we’d be living in a workers’ paradise.
We all agree that defeating Trump and Trumpism is our primary goal on November 3, 2020. So, why are the Democratic candidates arguing about access to healthcare, the nuances of socialism versus capitalism, revolution, income inequality, taxation, gun control, corruption, and the scourge of billionaires? They describe with certainty what is known to all as the classic Democratic Party Bucket-List. It is the same wish-list we’ve had since FDR. If a truism could be microscopically dissected into its component parts, we’d be looking through a microscope at the current Democratic debates. These debates don’t offer meaningfully different ideas; these are the same ideas spoken by different people who want to be president. And not one of them resembles Brad Pitt. That’s why the same four at the top essentially poll the same. And that’s why we’re all starting to sweat bullets.
Democrats are literally preaching to the choir when they should be annihilating the opposition. What we face in November is an existential threat, not an argument about who gets which puppy. And worse, our candidates are simply whistling past the graveyard when they say that they can deliver on their policies. In fact, they’re lying to us.
I’m with James Carville when he said: “We have one moral imperative, and that’s to beat Donald Trump…Right now the most important thing is getting this career criminal who’s stealing everything that isn’t nailed down – out of the White House. We can’t do anything for anyone if we don’t start there and then acquire more power.”
Have the Democratic candidates not asked themselves why one-half of Americans voted for a party that has dedicated itself to removing access to healthcare – even for Republicans? Have they not noticed that one-half of Americans like the Republican tax cuts just fine – even if they don’t personally get any? Are they not aware that, to those who have voted Republican their entire lives, a socialist hawking revolution is like pouring accelerant on a wildfire? In a country that is evenly split between two parties that are diametrically opposed on ideology – who thought it was a good idea to debate how many angels can dance on the head of the Liberal pin? This is nothing, if not a classic example of good brainpower put to nonsensical ends.
In the last debate, I found myself wishing that Bernie Sanders would look at the viewers at home and break through the fourth wall by saying, “I know that you shouldn’t vote for me because, well, I’m 78; I just had a heart attack; I can’t get along with anyone in Congress; and I’m not really even a Democrat.” I wished that Joe Biden had broken through the fourth wall by saying: “Folks, here’s the deal: I’m not up to the job; I’m weary; I’ve taken too many hits; and I’m just too old to fix this mess.” I wished that Pete Buttigieg had broken through the fourth wall by looking directly into the cameras and saying: “I hate being called, Mayor Pete, it’s condescending, but that won’t stop them from saying much worse if I’m nominated.”
But instead, all we heard were standard Democratic solutions to the problems that have arisen because of the Republican victory of 2016. Of course, Republicans are corrupt; that’s how they won in the first place – certainly not because of their ideas. Of course, they’ve lied about virtually everything; that’s how they fool all of the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time. Of course, they cheated to win; how else could Vladimir Putin have gotten them elected?
In this crisis of an election, where we know ahead of time that the Republican Party intends to cheat, why are we talking about unicorn husbandry? I want to hear about how Democrats can organize to secure the election and harden our voting apparatuses, and how these candidates will convince social media to cull misleading or false ads. I want to see efforts to shame media outlets that place their own profits above the survival of the country. I want to hear how they will flood the airwaves with strategies that will shame by name each individual Republican who exonerated Trump. I want to see ads that punch Mitch McConnell in the kisser with facts that reveal his decades dedicated to corrupting and dismantling American Democracy.
I don’t want to hear about purity tests and the moral superiority of fighting with your hands tied behind your back. I welcome the investment in Democratic advertising by Mike Bloomberg and Tom Steyer. I reject the notion that they have malign intent by virtue of the fact that they are billionaires. This is a false syllogism – it uses a false premise that fails to support the conclusion. A look at the actual records of Mr. Bloomberg and Mr. Steyer supports the assumption that they are both honorable men. Like FDR, they have personally fought for Democratic ideals for decades, and they have used their own money to achieve progressive objectives. We need to suspend our class-war rhetoric and welcome the participation of those who have spent decades successfully doing good, in spite of the fact that they did very very well.
Republicans have always used bread and circuses to persuade voters that their wars are signs of virility, that their financial thefts will make everyone rich, that their eternal whiteness is a sign of racial superiority. But I think we are indulging in bread and circuses in this election as well. We are throwing rose petals to the diverse coalition that we represent – instead of going to war on their behalf.
This election is not about ideology at all; it’s about the theft of our democracy by a bunch of deplorable human beings who routinely cheat to win. So why aren’t our candidates explaining how they will destroy the asteroid that’s headed our way in November, instead of telling us about the Utopia that they will deliver us in December?
Until these candidates start to show leadership, I will continue to agree with James Carville when he says: “The fate of the world depends on the Democrats getting their shit together and winning in November. We have to beat Trump. And so far, I don’t like what I see. And a lot of people I talk to feel the same way.”
Image: wikimedia, Jasper Johns, 1961
Deborah Long is a Principal at Development Management Group, Inc. and founder of several non-profit charitable organizations. If you find her perspectives interesting, provocative, or controversial, follow her at: https://www.facebook.com/debby.long.98499?ref=br_rs