What Have I Learned From The 2016 Election

0. I am out of synch with Americans today, old and young, and it is better for me to keep it that way even if it seems isolating. I would do best living happily as a quiet, invisible loner.

I am unable to engage with society without puncturing other people’s idea bubbles, because I am unable to keep my analytical mind from seeking the foundations of those ideas and the limits of those bubbles. I usually find the foundations weak, the limits narrow, and the bubbles flimsy – but held to be sacred. Trying to expand those bubbles (to “be helpful” and “inform them”) or pop them (to be critical and “wake them up”) just creates hostility, and that produces disturbances (when I lose my patience), which then suck the oxygen out of my good spirits, and poisons some of the time I could otherwise be spending enjoying my own thoughts and actions.

What I have now been taught, in these modern times, is that I would do best to “respect others” by simply saying nothing to them as they babble on without interruption, even as they fall off their own delusional cliffs and ensnare themselves in their own chosen sufferings. I get it: It’s your life and you’ll choose how to live it and fantasize about it.

For my part, it’s best I do my thing alone without seeking an audience, which seeking is just a waste of time that yields no appreciation, nor has social benefit. People only have an interest in me to sell me something (get money), or for me to play a supporting role in one of their self-focused social dramas (women are big on this), or to be a momentary entertainment fill-in.

Since there is such a wide variety of human types, the above analysis is not true for everyone.

1. You never help anyone by calling them stupid, even if it’s true. Stupidity is like gravity, it’s constant and impervious, and you can’t do anything about it – unless it’s your own. I must be patient about the reality of stupidity, for my own good.

2. Everybody is racist.

3. Attention deficiency is the norm. Most people do not have an attention span greater than 20 seconds. I think this is why hand-held electronics are so popular, and reading paperbacks in public is so rare.

4. I’m on my own (and it’s best). Nobody cares about what I think, say or write. And, I feel the same way about most other people.

5. Conversation is dead. Most people prefer to talk than to listen, where “talk” is either actual audible verbalized output, or broadcast written speeches, or internal mental self-talk.

6. Thinking is dead. Most people do not think reflectively and use logic, they react emotionally selecting instantaneous judgments from a list of pre-programmed prejudices. They only “think” mechanically and procedurally (like robots) to implement the task at hand, whether that task is a chore (something they “have to” do), or a step in self-focused activity (something they “want to” do).

7. Americans have been trained to vote on the basis of avoiding their fears (i.e., emotionally). Where fear is lacking, voting decisions can be based on personal biases (more emotions) and personal pecuniary impact (the beginnings of thought). The character of political candidates, and the public good (or damage) of the policies they would champion, are not thoughtfully considered by the majority of American voters.

“The most frightening feature of the civic melancholia in present-day America is the relative collapse of integrity, honesty, and decency — an undeniable spiritual blackout of grand proportions. The sad spectacle of the presidential election is no surprise. Rather, the neofascist catastrophe called Donald Trump and the neoliberal disaster named Hillary Clinton are predictable symbols of our spiritual blackout.” – Cornell West (3 November 2016)

8. Political amnesia and personal denial are the psychological anesthetics of choice. Voters never notice and never remember the damages their winning candidates cause, so they can remain willfully ignorant of their own responsibilities in helping to create those damages. For example: Ronald Reagan’s “trickle down” and butchery in Central America, Bill Clinton’s “welfare reform” and deregulation of the banks, George W. Bush’s Iraq War, tax cut for the rich and US financial collapse for the not-rich, Barack Obama’s generous giveaways to and protection of Wall Street, whistleblower persecutions and drone massacres. Have Reagan, Clinton, Bush and Obama voters ever taken ownership of the disasters, catastrophes and persecutions they backed?

American identity-politics voting on the basis of vanity (latest version: “first woman president”) subsequently requires many foreign brown-skinned dead bodies in tribute to “the cause,” and the camping out on sidewalks in the homeland of more and more “deplorables” and “welfare cheats,” and every other kind of out-of-scratch nonperson. I pity America’s exploited and discarded Red Necks, now raging with neofascist ignorance, as mirrored by their hero Donald Trump; and I am disgusted by the smug narcissistic vanity of America’s comfortable parasites, emoting or conniving and colluding, as mirrored by their heroine Hillary Clinton.

9. Predictions: Hillary Clinton will win the election on November 8th. The Electoral College vote will be decisive, but the popular vote will be close. Hillary Clinton will follow through on her promises to Goldman Sachs (Big Money), Saudi Arabia (Big Oil) and Israel (War Inc.), but will entirely ignore the Democratic Party platform (dumping the Bernie Sanders Democrats the morning after getting their votes), except as a useful repository of progressive rhetoric she can cherry-pick for use as political camouflage when needed. The mainline Republicans (finally able to ditch Trump and his Tea Party excludeds) will stonewall President Hillary in the same way they stonewalled President Obama, as a careerists versus careerist battle for political power, except at those times and in those areas where Big Money, Big Oil and War, Inc. tell them to cooperate to meet the owners’ needs and wants, just as they did during the Obama Administration. Hillary is closer (more pliant) to the Big Owners than Barack was, but she’s unlikely to be as adept as he was at managing the public. So, the Big Game will go on as before, but it may not look as pretty at the retail level of infotainment. The treacly celebrations of “breaking the glass ceiling” and “first woman president” will be overlong and overplayed despite quickly wearing out for all but Hillary’s sentimental cultists.

10. It’s time for me to renew my Zen.

5 thoughts on “What Have I Learned From The 2016 Election

  1. Manuel: You tried to be nice. It didn’t work, for the reasons you enumerate so incisively. Now, niceness be damned, you’re telling it how it is. “I’m on my own […].” Not quite. A few of us take heart to hear some straight talk at last.

  2. You are right, Manuel, yes it is awful out there. Regardless of how alone you are feeling, there are some of us who value your work and appreciate the effort you make to communicate and educate. It is true, generally people’s thought processes are not complex, but nothing is new, and that is not a full description of humanity. There are good people out there as well.

    If you are of a mind to, feel free to drop me a line. You know the email. I would welcome hearing from you. In the meantime, consider me a long-time appreciative reader.

    Best wishes, R.

    P.S. I just checked. I first read your words over 7 years ago …
    http://www.counterpunch.org/2009/07/01/the-new-crisis-in-aviation/
    July 1, 2009, “The New Crisis in Aviation”
    I am still looking forward to your next essay, after all these years.

    • Thank you Mr. Pearsall. Wow, back at AF227. I got that wrong because I made the assumption that pilot error could never have been the problem, since “everybody” knew how to end a stall by pushing the stick/wheel down. I learned this by watching 1940s Hollywood WWII movies. But, it turned out that in the 2000’s pilots learned to fly on computer simulators, not by the seat of the pants, and modern airliners are self-operating monsters that talk to you (a bit like HAL2000). AF227 went down because the 3rd pilot (the least experienced) held the wheel up in a panic all the way down; he’d never flown gliders and experienced ending a stall in actuality. A tragedy caused by lost “old knowledge” resulting from technological “advance.” Sullenberger, who landed his flamed-out passenger plane on the Hudson River (NYC) (a few years after AF227), was a practiced and active recreational glider pilot.

      • Thanks for the new information, M. I am old enough to know what you mean by “old knowledge”, having acquired a few tricks in my time. One trick that life has taught me is to look for special knowledge in people I meet. It is amazing how clever even dull-appearing people can be when they get a chance to show you. That is not a trick that comes naturally – I have to keep reminding myself of it – but when I remember it, the rewards are often surprising.

        Another topic … I went back to look at some of your essays that I had commented on and discovered that I was not being notified of replies like yours to me above. I have now checked the two boxes below (notify of new comments is now checked, notify of new posts had been previously checked). Will that be a persistent fix or do I need to recheck them each time?

        P.S. It sounds like the flight simulators need to be improved. Perhaps that has already been done. Of course, when designing something, the challenge is always the need to include Rumsfeld’s “unknown unknowns”** in your calculations.

        ** Even a schweinhund like The Other Donald can have at least one thing to contribute. When I heard this, I put it in my mental box of notions to embrace, regardless of source.

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