Soap Box: America's Democracy Is A Hot Mess

Date: November 11th, 2020 7:50 AM

Previously on PZ: A Singularly Plural Life


So the 2020 presidential election results, while not yet certified, have created the following set of circumstances in our here & now: Democrats have pretty much won the election by a lot. Biden is going to be the next POTUS. Trump is predictably unhappy with this and, also predictably, refuses to accept the election results. He says there is widespread voter fraud in the states that didn't elect him, but there isn't really any evidence to back this up. Many of his supporters do believe him, though. And they're pissing themselves just like trump is.

All of this only reinforces in my mind the obvious truth that no one really wants to admit: America’s democracy is a fucking hot mess.

To be fair, governing is a very messy, shameful business, and America’s democracy has actually accomplished wonders in some respects. But this is nowhere near enough to redeem it. America has a great many skeletons in its closet, and they're multiplying so quickly they're starting to spill out faster and faster. Many people won’t like to hear this, because they’ve invested so heavily into this political system. They’ve got families, properties, careers, businesses, entire lives devoted to the idea that American democracy fundamentally works. The second biggest problem is that so many people are invested in a lie in the first place. The biggest problem, however, is that they like it that way.

There are many reasons why trump became president, and all of them point to a democracy that hides human hatred and rights violations beneath a mask of nobility, unity, and strength. American government, knowing the world is watching, puts on quite a spectacular show (in this regard, it's no wonder a reality tv show host became POTUS in 2016). But behind the scenes, where MOST of the work is going on, things are quite different. Most American citizens do not really even like each other, as is evident by the cesspools that are social media platforms. And this plays out in their social interactions with each other every day, online and offline. Even people who are considered to be on the same team can quickly devolve into spiteful conversations featuring dehumanizing language. For all their talk of tolerance, Americans know nothing of it— and they certainly do not understand how tolerance is self-generated, either. The great lie that is American democracy amounts to no more than a conveniently lovely myth like Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, or Jesus Christ: Santa will give you presents if you're good. The Easter Bunny will bring you gifts of candy. Jesus Christ will cleanse us all from our sins. The government will protect us from all harm. I honestly don't understand how anyone can take American politics seriously anymore, especially after all that I've seen happening during the past several years.

People have to hang on to something; they NEED something to believe in. I suppose that’s to be expected of creatures that have spent their whole lives depending upon a planet on which they live. Something else that people NEED in their lives, is drama, or in other words mental stimulation. It’s not enough for things to be going well for humans— they need the vicissitudes of life in order to keep themselves going. From these needs have been birthed many of humanity’s most promising endeavors: politics, religion, academia, economics, culture. But there is a problem we have developed here in the late stages of capitalism: humans don’t NEED to love each other in order to be fulfilled anymore. People have come to need profit more than each other.

Americans have more reasons to want to stay away from each other than they do to want to unite. That’s the problem. Their care for other people outside of their favorite circles is practically non-existent. And no amount of voting or political discourse is going to fix THAT sorry situation. No leader in the world can make people who don’t want to care about each other, care about each other. There’s no system of logic or government in the universe that can effectively govern the human heart. These changes have to be made IN the people themselves, BY the people themselves. What makes it all so scary is the knowledge that people don’t want to change themselves— they want to make everyone else change instead. This is why governments are metaphysically doomed to failure. This is why authoritarianism keeps rearing its ugly head every time we think we’ve vanquished it. THE PROBLEM _IS_ THE PEOPLE.

How do we “fix” people? Well, that’s a very interesting question, and one humanity has been grappling with for ages. That question alone makes a lot of unspoken assumptions that raise all kinds of other questions— who does the fixing, who's getting fixed? What gets fixed & what doesn't? Where, when, and how will the fixing happen? Why is fixing people even necessary at all? There are all kinds of answers to these questions, depending upon who is doing the answering, of course. The real question is:

How do we fix people so that they need to love each other in order to survive and thrive?

I don't know of a satisfactory answer to this question. The truth is, everything is as it should be— nothing needs to be fixed at all. If people do not love each other, they will simply have to live with the consequences of their choice. Everyone is free to interact with each other in any way they choose, so everyone is capable of choosing love over hate... but The Way just isn't enough for some folk. They love the byways. They love their egos. People love to hate. They don't want to be fixed, they want to be doing the fixing. They want everything to be fixed at the snap of their fingers. They have no idea they're running away from their own shadows. I don't think people are fixable, at all. The only person who can fix us is ourselves.

We can't do anything about what other people are doing, but we can do something about what we ourselves are doing. The American political system may be a hot mess, everyone around us may be hot messes, but that doesn't mean that WE have to be a hot mess ourselves.

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Tags: Soap Box, The Valentine, Politics


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