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The Villages
Monday, July 26, 2021

Act II

Jack E. Brush
Jack E. Brush

For those of you who may have fallen asleep during Act I due to boredom, I would like to call your attention to the fact that Act II of the “Quadrennial Frenzy” has begun. As we saw in Act I, Donald Trump was busily making plans to construct the “Great Wall of Mexico”, which would extend some 2,000 miles from Baja, California to Brownsville, Texas. Many considered this to be an overly ambitious project, but in comparison with the “Great Wall of China”, which extends approximately 21,000 miles, the architects thought that it was doable. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton spent most of her time during Act I in a valiant effort to destroy the democratic process. Her rival Bernie Sanders was simply too honest and too liberal for a pseudo-liberal from Yale to beat in a fair contest, and so she conspired with Debbie Wasserman Schultz to destroy him. Unfortunately, she destroyed democracy at the same time–what we call in military language “collateral damage”.

As Act II began, the playhouse director kindly requested that we, the spectators of this spectacle, forget everything that happened in Act I. This is, of course, a very curious way of enjoying a play, but then, politics is a rather curious human endeavor. In particular, we have been asked to forget what Hillary did during the Primary and at the Democratic National Convention. Were her actions despicable? Were they characterized by subterfuge and deception? Was her treatment of Bernie Sanders perfidious? And does she have an almost unrivaled record of lying? Yes, to all of the above! But here we are now in Act II; so let’s forget all of that and concentrate on the “Lesser of Two Evils” theory. She may be a pitiful candidate for the first woman President of the United States, but she is, as the theory claims, better than that bully from reality television. As for Donald Trump, we are now supposed to forget about the plans for the Great Wall and his disparaging remarks about various groups including women. In Act II, he enters the stage as the reasonable protector of the republic who is willing to compromise and negotiate with upstanding immigrants. Actually, those citizens who slept through Act I now have the advantage; it will be much less confusing for them to watch Act II.

But that’s not all! I’ve never attended a play where everyone changed seats between Act I and Act II. Even at the usual performances of the “Quadrennial Frenzy”, everyone stays in the same seat throughout the entire play. Not so this year! As Act II began, I saw Michael Bloomberg change seats in order to sit with the democrats, and I hear that William Kristol was sitting beside him. David and Charles Koch, the famous financial supporters of the Republican Party, thought that the play was so bad that they sprang from their box seats and left the theater in a huff. At this point, it’s very difficult to anticipate how this play will end, but one thing has become crystal clear: It’s not party politics as usual.

If I were to venture a prediction about the outcome, I would say that this election is destined to be a one-issue affair. Those voters who want to elect a woman to the White House will cast their ballot for Hillary in spite of all rational arguments to the contrary. Those who are concerned about protecting their wealth will vote for the candidate who is most clearly under the direction of Wall Street. For some voters, the US support of Israel will be decisive. For others, it will be gay/lesbian rights. For voters who think that the global economy has been destructive to the wealth being of our country, Trump will be the logical choice. He will also receive the vote of those who want a more conservative Supreme Court.

In view of the fact that the Establishment Parties have suffered tremendous damage during this election cycle, the narrow focus on one issue is unlikely to be widened by a consideration of party platforms. Instead, the counterbalance to the one-issue thinking will be provided by the negative-vote-mentality, i.e. by the vote against the other major candidate. Those who view Donald Trump as a “wolf in wolf’s clothing” will vote against him and try to find at least one issue of agreement with Hillary. And those who see little horns sticking out of Hillary’s 1,000-dollar hairdo will vote against her and struggle to find a point of agreement with Trump. In either case, the play may not end well. Not only do we need better candidates, we also need a broader approach to political decision-making. As I have said repeatedly, we desperately need to think about the common good, not simply about individual interests. We live in a complex society, and we cannot afford to make decisions on the basis of one issue alone. Electing Hillary Clinton simply because she is more supportive of gay/lesbian rights is politically irresponsible. Likewise, electing Donald Trump because he is tougher on immigration is too shortsighted.

We need to consider all of the issues involved, not simply the ones forced upon us daily by the media. If we do not adjust our thinking to the complexities that we face, we may discover one day that the play is really over, that our leaders have decided not to perform the “Quadrennial Frenzy” anymore. Although our history books write about the ancient Roman Empire, the Romans themselves never admitted that their Republic had degenerated into an Empire. Step by step the Roman citizens lost control of their government, and they eventually found themselves under the rule of dictators.

I rarely agree with the Koch brothers about anything, but in this case, they are absolutely right. This is a really bad play. Unfortunately, it’s too late to boo the actors off the stage. So let’s engage in some serious dialogue about the many issues involved and try to make the best of a dismal situation. After all, we are paying a lot for this play.

Jack Brush is a Villager and frequent contributor to Villages-News.com. In his new book In Search of the Common Good: Guideposts for Concerned Citizens, he develops guidelines for balancing human rights with the urgent need to promote the common good in our society. For more information, see www.jackebrush.com.     

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