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Monday, November 07, 2016

'Twas the Night Before...

This election cycle has been good to me, it really has. We do a lot of election related printing where I work and when you have to rent an extra large dumpster for your paper trimmings, you know it's rocking. When your main supplier for 100# gloss cover sells out nationwide the first week of October, yeah, that's a heavy ass election cycle. That's like KFC running out of chicken.

Of course, what they spend on print is nothing compared to what they spend on TV. Not owning a television, I'm generally sheltered from the mayhem. But the World Series, I was really enjoying that whole thing with the way overdue Cubs (normally not a team I can root for being a Pirates fan), and the almost as overdue Indians. So I found myself at the bar watching a few...political commercials.

Holy shit. I mean, leave aside the onslaught of negativity at the top of the ticket, that's probably inevitable when one of the worlds biggest assholes is the Republican nominee and opposite him is a woman who is basically Kryptonite to your average Fox News/Breitbart consumer. But it struck me, I don't live in Missouri but through my work I've met and had dealings with a couple of Democratic candidates there. They're not close friends of mine or anything, but I've done business with them and interacted with them. Honestly, they're way more liberal than I am, there's some issues where I disagree with them wholeheartedly.

But they're good people. Sorry if you just blew Coke out your nose at me, of all people, describing politicians as good people. I'm not prone to that kind of talk, but it's true. The guys they're running against, I bet if I knew them I'd say the same thing. They're probably pretty okay people if you know them a little. They might be trying to advance policies that are disastrous, but they're not doing this out of malice, they're doing this because for whatever reasons they're convinced that this is the answer.

And the shadowy characters who finance their campaigns? Probably not antichrists either. Powerful interests have a way of looking out for their interests. And there are definitely situations where people do bad things even if they can come up with a narrative to spin the harm they're doing, just ask a tobacco executive. Or the oil industry types making Oklahoma more seismically active than California, none of those guys are actually comic book arch-villains, even if they do maybe need to be stopped.

I'm not sure I can go so far as accept Donald Trump as a good guy who's just misguided. But I suppose it might be true, except for his being a sexual predator and narcissist. Normally I can find a bit more common ground with a Republican. Free trade, I'm for it (though I'm also a union guy so not digging the 'right to work for less money' angle Republicans tend to favor. I like taxes to be as low as possible, though the 'supply side' theory advanced by Reagan and his disciples is the same bullshit as the stimulus spending deal, just look at Kansas: Brownback rolls back these taxes on the theory that the economic activity that will spur will balance the books in the end. Turns out, yeah, it's a slow, unimpressive ROI. But Dems shouldn't get too smug, if he'd just upped spending and left taxes alone, he'd still be the architect of a fiscal disaster. I think not only should weed be legal, but cocaine, heroin, psychedelic mushrooms, whatever you got. Like smoking cigarettes, some of these drugs are best avoided, but using them does not constitute a crime. It's your body, shoot, smoke or ingest what you will, don't come crying to me if your life sucks. And immigration: dude, the only way an economy grows is with more population or increased productivity. Once you're fully industrialized, the latter gets to be almost a rounding error, so if you want to grow you need immigrants. That's the problem Japan has grappled unsuccessfully with for decades now, they have very restrictive immigration policies, so they have slow growth in productivity and despite following Robert Reich's advice thoroughly they still can't grow their economy much. Eventually we'll need to embrace an economic model that's not so growth dependent (which means we can't just keep deficit spending at the federal level), but for now bring me your Mexicans, Gautemalans, Syrian refugees, whatever you got. There are problems that come with mass migrations but none of them are solved by trying to slam the door on the migrants.

So a Trump supporter I went to high school with, today she was saying on Facebook that the choice is between the 'continued destruction of America' and Trump, and I'm like, can you hear yourself? It's become so common it doesn't even sound remarkable, but disagree with him all you want, Barrack Obama has not been 'destroying' America these eight years, and Hillary isn't looking to destroy it either. We have a country that is far from perfect but never stopped being great. And this libertarian is voting for a Democrat at the top of the ticket tomorrow, first time since 1988 that's happened. I'm not super thrilled with Hillary and don't ask me to defend her beyond not being Donald Trump, but in this toxic mix I've come to the conclusion that not being Donald Trump is enough.

Now can we go back to the days when Tip O'Neill had drinks with Reagan at the White House? When the likes of Dole and Eagleton figured out what the hell they could actually agree on and what just had to be tabled? This whole Wrestlemania thing has been fun and all but maybe we should aim for good government rather than entertainment.

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