I Know How to Vote, Facebook

What Sign of the Apocalypse is it that we require our button-apps and time-waster devices to remind us that there’s an election coming up? Why isn’t this something I can turn off?

It’s everywhere, Facebook, Instagram, Discord, Twitter. The oligarchy is as One reminding me that I need to Register to Vote.

Never mind the fact that I’ve been registered to vote since the Internet consisted of whatever you could get Prodigy to suck through your phone line. Never mind the fact that I registered myself like a big boy, using paper and writing implements. Never mind the fact that I’ve never missed an election. This is apparently information that the Lords of the Universe don’t have access to. Which I suppose is something to be grateful for, because the perfect seamless incorporation into the Matrix has not yet occurred. But still, why can’t they just leave me to it? Why is it Social Media’s responsibility to Get Out the Vote?

There is an illusion, deeply felt, that Corporations are Entities that can Do Good. That they have Moral Responsibilities. I’m less interested in arguing about whether this is true (the legal fiction of corporate personhood aside, a company is just a group of people working together to make money. People have moral lives and responsibilities, corporations do not), than in pondering what this means about our culture. The dull exhortation to Do The Thing, conditioning our hindbrain that the Thing is Important, preventing us from ordering the Thing to our own life. Instead, we slap the button like so many descalped rats just to stop the irritation.

But surely. Elections are Important. How can you dispute this?

They seem to be. There’s a whole lot of noise surrounding them. There’s a sense of Sublime Victory or Traumatizing Defeat for one set or another. And yet, somehow, the winners never seem to get what they vote fore, nor the losers, what they vote against. Somehow neither side ever delivers that Square Deal, that Great Society, that New American Revolution supposedly on offer. Somehow no electoral victory ever translates into that heavenly Mandate to actually give the American people something that they ask for. All that seems to happen is one side or another gets to sign a bunch of orders, spend a bunch of money (which is promptly created for that purpose), make incremental changes to this or that pre-existing regulatory thicket, and the beat goes on. And if you spend enough time at the trough, you retire a millionaire.

You know, now that I think on it, maybe social media is just the right place for this circus. Sure, someone who only bothered registering to vote because the blinky screen told them to is probably the last person you’d want making decisions as to our leaders. But if our leaders don’t actually make decisions, then no one can do much harm. Democracy with Gutter Bumpers – What Could Go Wrong?

The Democrats are Democrats

Is Megan McArdle actually surprised that no one mentioned Obamacare at the debates? Or is this rhetorical surprise?

The Affordable Care Act barely came up. What candidates wanted to talk about was Medicare-for-all.

That is nothing short of extraordinary. In 2010, President Barack Obama signed into law the biggest entitlement expansion, and the most significant health-care reform, since the 1960s. You’d think Democrats would be jostling to claim that mantle for themselves. Instead it was left in a corner, gathering dust, while the candidates moved on to the fashion of the moment.

There are those of us toddler-eating, goose-stepping monsters who argued way the hell back in 2010 that this was the point all along; that the ACA was just the camel’s nose to get the government in the business of managing health-care (anyone out there who wants to argue that the real camel’s nose was Medicare and Medicaid, nolo contendre). It was destined to fail, designed to fail, so that the next Democratic President could give the ratchet another turn, so that the Republicans could jump up and down about it, and then do nothing, so that the next Democratic President could give us a European-style National Health Service.

McArdle is educated enough to have heard of the Cloward-Pliven Strategy.  This would appear to be a variant of that. It’s that old socialist tactic, “the worse, the better”, which is why the Democrats were furious this week at having to vote funds for migrants at the border. They don’t want migrants at the border to be reasonably cared-for. They want concentration camps. They want dead children in the Rio Grande. Because what they really want is open-borders with concomitant demographic shift that earns them the majority they need to rule. And the way to get that is to present these people as saintly victims, martyrs of our hatred, all the time. Alexandra Occasio-Cortez isn’t stupid; she knows what she wants and makes the moves necessary to get it. People who take her public statements at face-value, as if she was different from any other kind of politician, those are the stupid ones.

And the same applies to Marianne Williamson, the “beautiful lunatic”, whom Stacy McCain has been giving the George McGovern treatment (Stacy might have a wish to be the Hunter Thompson of his generation). I’m not in the business of making predictions, but when Williamson said this:

I tell you one thing, it’s really nice if we have all these plans, but if you think we beat Donald Trump by just having all these plans, you’ve got another thing coming. Because he didn’t win by saying he had a plan. He won by simply saying, “Make America Great Again.”

My response is:

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Let’s be real here a second. Nobody cares about politicians’ plans. Politician’s plans are like their rectums; they each have one, and they all stink. Mitt Romney had a 47-point plan to fix all the things. Nobody wanted anything to do with it. They wanted to re-elect Hope and Change instead.

Having a Plan is political shorthand for “I know what I’m talking about and am a serious person. I’m smart and stuff.” Which is not a bad position to be in, but having an idea that the average voter can relate to and respond to is a better one. “Build a Wall” resonates in a way that “My plan calls for tweaking the QZM, Snorfhonkling the BLYC, and Adding a new Part to Medicare” simply does not.

So Marianne Williamson is not as dumb as you might think. I don’t know that she actually has an idea that will resonate with the Democratic base yet, but if she gets one, watch out. The Democrats are Democrats.