Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Shouting Into The Wind

You can try to pass on what little you've learned in life to the next generation.  They ain't listening.  We weren't either!

A recent opinion piece in USA Today makes the interesting analogy between the 1968 and 1972 elections and the 2016 and 2020 elections.  In 1968, Nixon narrowly beat Humphrey - a middle-of-the-road Democrat who, like Hillary, didn't inspire voters too much.   In reaction to that, for the 1972 election, far-left McGovern was nominated, and lost in a landslide to the re-election of Nixon in 1972.

The author points out that he passionately believed in McGovern and radical social change.  He felt that incremental changes and improvements were a "cop out" and nothing short of revolution was required.   The day after the election, he was shattered.

He hopes this example will illuminate today's young Sanders supporters - that radical change might sound fine and all, but it doesn't win elections.   And in elections, second place is nothing (well, it used to be - you got to be Vice-President, but we've moved beyond that).   There are no "participation awards" in politics.

He makes an interesting point, but he is shouting into the wind.   Because if he recalls his enthusiasm for McGovern in 1972, he might also recall that when McGovern lost, he didn't suddenly become a pragmatist.  It took many years of aging and maturity.   In fact, the impeachment of Nixon didn't help much.  We lurched from Nixonian politics to Jimmy Carter, who proved to be ineffective in the job.  So once again, we lurched rightward, to Reagan and Bush, before a pragmatic centrist Democrat finally was elected when Bill Clinton took office.   Today, young Democrats think his name is a dirty word - and that of his wife as well.

We could have had so much, but some folks, wanting all-or-nothing, settled for nothing.

Yes, when I was a kid, I went against the social norms of my peers and supported McGovern - even though I was six years shy of voting age.   It seemed like the thing to do at the time.   And it amazed me that not only did he lose, but he lost by such a large margin.   Turns out, a lot of Americans weren't really pining for massive social change.   Turns out, they were pretty happy with the things the way they were, but wanted criminals put in jail and their tax dollars spent more wisely (and tax rates cut, of course).   The hippies and yippies didn't inspire them, they were frightened by them.

It didn't happen overnight, but the radicals became less radical over time.  Some even went far-right, such as Jerry Rubin.   Once you buy into the system, you realize it isn't such a bad system, and "don't rock the boat" replaces "up against the wall!"

Today's Sanders supporters are tomorrow's Republicans - or at the very least, conservative Democrats.   In about ten years, most of them will have paid off their student loans - and the idea of "student loan forgiveness" will seem more and more alien to them.   After all, they struggled and scrimped to pay off these debts, why should others get a free ride? 

And once they get that first good paying job (which will happen, to most of them, over time) and they see how much is missing from their paycheck for taxes (one-third or more) they might change their mind about government giveaways.

Like I said before, today's police protester is one-stolen-bicycle away from becoming a law-and-order voter.   When you have nothing, "stick it to the man!" sounds like a rational battle plan.  But when you struggle to even accumulate a tiny bit of wealth - and it is taken from you by thieves - you start to wonder whether all this left-wing thinking isn't a lot of hogwash.

Feeling sorry for criminals and other irresponsible people (such as Bernie Sanders - who is heavily in debt and still living "paycheck to paycheck" on a six-figure income) starts to become less and less appealing.

It happens - not to all of us, but most of us.    Sure, there are plenty of people who still claim to be far-left into their old age.  But you scratch the surface and their views are pretty centrist, when you get down to it.   And as soon as the black people leave the room, they tell stories making fun of "African-American" sounding names.   I've seen this firsthand, on more than one occasion.   I'll bet even Bernie does it.

So while I admire this fellow for writing this Op-ed piece pointing out the similarities between the two election cycles - nearly 50 years apart - I doubt it will do much good.  As he put it:
I’m telling my story because, as philosopher George Santayana said, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
But what he fails to understand is, history repeats itself an awful lot.   People don't learn from the past, which is why they are condemned to repeat it.  Hence, we have today, basement Nazis.   You would think we woulda learned by now about that, eh?

History will repeat itself, despite our best efforts to avoid it.