Oh the Demagoguery! Irrational Emotion in Politics

As you’ve probably noticed we’ve been going through months and months of constant political ridiculousness. It seems like every day something more incredible, divisive, and stupid comes out of a politician’s mouth. That stupidity has been trickling down to the average Joe on the street to the point where violence happens at political rallies.

So, I decided it was about time to give the internet a dose of reality and hard truth.

One of the most important differences between the right and the left is the segment of society that each sees as the focal point of power that must be resisted. For the right, traditionally the growing power of government is the greatest threat to liberty and, therefore, our way of life. For the left, the growing power of the rich and their “special interests” is the greatest threat to equality and, therefore, our way of life. If only our politicians could take such broad and complicated concerns, explain them in a rational and simple way, then compromise on the best way to go about solving them.

I dream!

Instead, both sides have become irrationally myopic in their rhetoric and the average voter has moved with them emotionally. It seems like it’s gotten to the point where whatever the loudest and most simplistic politician in the room spouts his adherents will rally to in a brainless furry. They’ll get amazingly emotional and oftentimes scared at the prospect that others disagree with them. Inevitably everyone calls each other fascists or communists and makes Hitler comparisons. Then we have a bunch of jabroneys waving flags on one side and masked douche bags on the other side and Berkeley happens. Obviously, they are both accomplishing a lot for their cause…

In reality, everyone is being a jackass. I would bet my arms that nearly no one is really trying to overturn the constitution in some conspiratorial thrust for tyranny to either turn the U.S. socialist or fascist. However, obsessive fear of either the rich or the government will inevitably cause the imbalance we all fear because wealth and power are fluid. The threat to liberty, equality, self-government, and economic opportunity can come from either or both.

But don’t let that stop the likes of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump from stoking up their brand of fear for political gain. The economic crisis of 2008 and the rise of globalism have caused a massive change in the way people are able to approach politics. The economic angst of those dependent on the old economy of the U.S. has been easily harnessed by Bernie and Trump.

Bernie Sanders has become the mascot of political excitement for America’s younger generations and the left. Their battle cry is “equality” based on fear of “the super-rich” and “elites.” Their solution is first to make sure the rich “pay their fair share” then to reroute the nation’s wealth away from corrupt business through the government to be reallocated in a fairer way. Then they’ll inevitably list of the number of free things we should all get because they are all now our rights. Where they get this long encyclopedia of “rights” is nearly impossible to understand.

But the primary things that Bernie harps on day after day after day are the corruption of the rich and that they don’t pay their fair share in taxes. Therefore, in the mind of the left, the government is the agent of good who will right society’s wrongs against the little guy.

On the other hand, we have a man who was able to carve out a large portion of the Republican party and start playing on their angst like no Republican had ever dreamt. Trump didn’t talk about growing small businesses, increasing trade, or revolutionizing industry as Republicans usually do. Instead, he blamed virtually everyone who had it good the modern world for the problems of the economically weary; branding them as “elites.” Sound familiar? He played up fears China, mass immigration from Mexico, and that the elites in our government care not for the average American and snuggle up to “special interests” instead. Last one sound familiar? What he then harped on day after day after day is that he would get to Washington and fight for the little guy. Sound familiar?

What both were able to do is stoke the fears of the average voter caused by the evolution of our economy in a global time, then use broad platitudes to promise a quick fix. For Bernie fans, his faultless principles and virtuous leadership would unleash the inherently good powers of the state to bring justice for the people. For Trump fans, his relentless ability to get things done and seemingly unique willingness to pay attention to the average American’s plight would enable him to bring the jobs back from across the ocean.

So, what’s the truth that all the emotionally crazed people on TV and Twitter are missing?

It is ridiculous and irrational to focus solely on the evils of greed in business or the evils of power in D.C. while ignoring the other completely.

While it is easy to promise to fight for the little guy with broad promises to fix the wrongs of those currently labeled as evil, it is but a dream to think that taking much the wealth out of American business and rerouting it through the government and back to the people will cause the benefits that Bernie fans believe. When a nation’s wealth is moved to the bank accounts of the government do the people then become better off? No. The government simply holds the wealth rather than business. The average citizen’s only hope then is that their government, from the President down to the lowest civil servant, will act with inhuman benevolence and wisdom. Our daily subsistence and our lifetime hopes then become dependent on D.C.

If you believe wholeheartedly that if only your favorite politician would win and would implement policies of social justice then everything would be ok, please ask yourself this one question. Would you be ok if a politician completely opposite from your favorite won the next election and then controlled a government which harbored all our wealth and directed our means of subsistence, education, and economy?

Wall street

Many of my fellow Millennials fill the streets with angrily phrased signs and comment sections with pedantic ravings against the horrors of our corrupt system of greed. If only they’d realize that the alternative they are asking for would only result in a corrupt system of greed more centered in D.C. rather than Wall Street. The federal government is not populated by a different breed of human than the rest of the country is.

It is also a dream to think that a politically ignorant man in Trump will possess such immeasurable talents in beneficial deal-making that he will be able to stop the tide of globalism and singlehandedly “drain the swamp.” Unless the average American industrial worker is willing to work for $5 a day, the jobs that have gone to China aren’t coming back. Also, Unless Trump has been secretly harboring the political skills of an FDR, LBJ, or Reagan he isn’t going to be able to get meaningful legislation that will have a lasting effect in reducing the impact of the federal government on our daily lives through Congress. Executive orders are as fleeting as the next election. Laws passed by Congress and which then survive inevitable court battles are much more difficult to change.

The answer, as usual, is a more complex and slow moving combination of the two irrational extremes represented by Trump and Bernie and the sign waving morons who support them to the point of emotional rage.

Yes, we cannot allow for completely unregulated capitalism. During the industrial revolution, we had a virtual laissez-faire economic system. It led to unimaginable economic growth responsible for making the U.S. the economic giant we are today, but also to monopolies and economic horrors for those at the lowest end of the economic cycle. In 1901, after President William McKinley was killed, the new Republican President, Teddy Roosevelt, rode a train from New York to D.C. From the window of his train car, he saw the hills of Pennsylvania stripped of their trees in the distance while dirty and poor coal miners and factory workers waved as he rode past. It was because of those maladies that he decided to start creating the first modern regulations on American industry and to build our National Park system. And rightfully so.

However, we also cannot allow government to gain more influence than is necessary to curtail the maladies we cause one another. If we give it the power to move beyond that and into the realm of taking an active role in providing economic justice as its current leaders see fit, then we are doomed to the same fate as if the bankers on Wall Street ruled as Congress and President. Many a country has vested its future in the hands of the few in their capital in the vain hope that they would distribute economic justice. Many a country has found that their leaders in the capital were then the only ones with wealth and that the class system didn’t change. All that changed was who populated the classes and that the lowest class grew.

What we need is to not allow ourselves to be pulled solely by our fears into supporting politicians who so obviously play them like a fiddle. Once we do that, political leaders of higher quality will inherently come to the forefront and we won’t be stuck with a horrible choice between Hillary and Trump. People rolled their eyes when they heard Bush say he was a “compassionate conservative” or when Obama said he would bring hope and change. It’s amazing how far past those generalities we’ve gone.

When you believe in the dribble of demagogues you become a product of demagoguery. Your life and hopes are ruled by fear and the promises you hope to come true will undoubtedly be unrealistic. Whether you are conservative or liberal, realize that we are a nation built on cooperation. It takes patient, realistic, and politically intelligent people to ensure that productive cooperation happens. Never believe the podium thumper who promises the world and paints any opposition as a conspiracy to end life as we know it.

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