A lot has been written about the influence of partisanship in the impeachment of Donald Trump. Here are three examples:
But I can say this: watching it all unfold has filled me with melancholy.
Trump is indefensible, and he's dragged his colleagues to childish levels in order to maintain his hold on power. I don't remember politicians, Republicans or Democrats, consistently making such bad arguments in the George W. Bush era, in the Obama era, in any other political context. He's dumbed down his entire party; they sound childish.
And this makes me sad because I want adults, I want political leaders, to speak with clarity and conviction, not in defense of somebody who isn't worth defending. Trump is clearly a mess; nobody has created this much chaos in his term in Office. He needs to go. The letter proves it. And somehow, he continues to drag his entire party with him, as well as his base. What a sad state of affairs.
I don't want to shame any politicians; I do not believe shame is an effective long-term tool here. But I do wish some of them would look at the language they're using and admit they wouldn't use such childish arguments in other political contexts. The silliness of the "Trying to take back the 2016 election" arguments would not be tolerated elsewhere.
Of course, there are checks and balances that did not work, that brought us here:
I don't care what system we choose for Proportional Representation, but we need it. The FPTP system has bought us Brexit, Trump, and even Trudeau's somewhat inexplicable maintenance of power here in Canada. First-past-the-post will continue to amalgamate power in the hands of a select oligarchy.
What I fear, though, is that FPTP will breed kakistocarcy, "a system of government that is run by the worst, least qualified, and/or most unscrupulous citizens." As long as those in power see no threat to it, crapshoot leaders, like Donald Trump, will still have access to power, we will continue to see decisions made by arbitrary referendums, like Brexit, and we will continue to have to settle with semi-mediocre leaders like Trudeau. People with real leadership potential will avoid such systems, since they hope to maintain their integrity; unscrupulous opportunists, like Mitch McConnell, will maintain their hold, knowing that a proportional mandate would jeopardize their lazy grip to power.
It should have happened a long time ago. We're reaping the consequences now.
We need First-Past-The-Post to go the way of the British Empire that propogated it.
I appreciate today's editorial from The Globe and Mail about our rather lacklustre election results.
The federal election result on Monday has many stories to tell, but there are two that will shape the Trudeau minority government’s early days in power.
It's going to be quite the tightrope, yes, and Trudeau admitted as much today (although I can't quite find a link of the conference I heard about).
I think Trudeau's tendency to try to "play both sides" has made him somebody nobody is happy with. But I also believe he was initially elected for promises he never intended to keep, since he did not expect to win the election five years ago. I don't find him incompetent for his promises made when he expected to lose. But the whole talking-out-both-sides-of-your-mouth habit discourages me.
I tend to like minority governments. The necessity to compromise and team-up tends to work well for policy. However, I haven't seen much in Trudeau that makes me think he's a capable compromiser, nor have we seen anything like that from the main national balance-of-power party, the NDP.
I have no predictions.
I saw an article today that describes how Western countries will not meet the environmental targets outlined in the Paris Accord. I'm not surprised about this at all.
I'm not surprised for multiple reasons. Here are the most basic reasons I'm not surprised in the slightest:
The reasons above are systematically solutionable. We can solve those issues in various, systematic ways. That's what makes it so heartbreaking that we can't seem to get past it.
Here's why I'm not surprised at all that we won't meet the goals lined up in the Paris Climate Accord: because my life hasn't changed. Not one bit. I still drive my car way more than I should; I still keep my apartment warmer than I should; I still buy products like I did before. The Accord hasn't affected me directly one bit.
How can we expect systematic change when it doesn't affect parts of the system? If the only cost to the accord is the rising price of gasoline, or a little extra inflation, how will we affect change?
I'd say we won't. Until the measures taken to meet those goals force me to change my ways, I can assume we won't meet those goals. As long as I'm insulated from the effects of the accord, Canada won't be acting in a way that lets us meet it.
The article reads,
Failure to slow the pace of climate change will inflict massive dislocation on people around the world, with expectations of prolonged droughts and fires in some regions, and more extreme hurricanes and rain storms in others, climate scientists warn.
All of those symptoms? Those are the most easy things to deny responsibility for. So until I learn to perceive my part in them, I doubt the entire country would be able to pull off a similar mindset shift.
Naturally, I'm a little disheartened by yesterday's U.S. Election results. How can a nation move from a distinctly "presidential" president—Obama, whose wit, intellectual power, and self-awareness are truly extraordinary—to a distinctly un-"presidential" one—Trump, whose careless language and lack of filter humiliates him on a daily basis—within one cycle? What gives?
And how can the Republican Party live with itself when it allowed this bombastic outlier a stage, despite their best efforts to stop him?
I was hopeful that Peter Coffin's "Election Pre-Post mortem" would seem quaint after the election, but the video hits hard with this result. The system is a problem in the USA, and the status quo's resiliency has never been more certain than it is with Trump's win. I've embedded Coffin's video below.
With some different solutions to the same problem, On The Media also concluded that The system is rigged., but not in the way Donald Trump says it is. I've also embedded it below.
So, U.S.A., what are you going to do? How will you rescue yourselves over the next four years of national and international humiliation? How will you tame Donald Trump to work in your favour and not just his own?
I, for one, recommend a National Day of Mourning for November 9. Let us mourn the death of decency and civility in the world's most important military power. Let us mourn how this election represents backwards steps for social justice. Let us mourn our mistrust of experts and people with experience in national leadership. Let us mourn the choice to democratically lean on a decidedly undemocratic leader.
And let us mourn the ascendancy of the stupid.
NOTE: This post should be more organized, but I can't seem to organize my thinking beyond the paper I'm writing for my Master's project. If I didn't post it today, however, I probably never would have. So here it is―representative of my scattered thoughts.
I admire Sam Harris for his willingness to talk to people he doesn't agree with, the clarity of his writing style, and for his ability to make me think. I don't agree with everything he says, and I don't read or listen to everything he says, but insofar as "thinking" goes, I enjoy the content he produces, even when he carelessly screws up. Whether I agree with him or not, he always makes me think, and his clarity of tone also helps keep my own thinking clear.
I really appreciated Harris's recent interview with Jonathan Haidt. Although the two of them disagree about numerous ideas, the conversation works because they both understand each others' discourse despite their differences (unlike, as I noted before, his hilarious interview with Maryam Namazie). While activists inevitably clash with Harris, he works really well with his fellow academics, whether he's talking with Very Bad Wizards (here and here) or, in this case, Haidt.
In the interview above, Jonathon Haidt makes a comment about the current climate on University campuses. After the 1:47:00 mark, Haidt explains,
As I mentioned in some of my previous 30-second Twitter rants, most of these ideas were not new to me. As a student at UVic in the early 2000s, I got to know and respect quite a few social justice activists and grew familiar with identity politics. I read leftist papers and took part in a little bit of activism myself. I had grown weary of leftist alarmist culture, however, after feeling let-down by various pseudoscientific, or myopic campaigns that could not stand up to scrutiny. For the last few years, I've followed various social justice movements from a distance, but I haven't taken part myself. I've been one of those classic overwhelmed middle-class folks who feels they don't have time to do anything but survive.
So all this fuss about "Social Justice Warriors" and the "Regressive Left" has taken me by surprise. I have expressed how I don't understand where all the vitriolic talk comes from. Yes, some people have overreacted on campuses, and this has roundly been discussed. But how in the world, I thought, did "Social Justice" become so derogatory? Wasn't social justice the force that maintained our freedom and kept people from authoritarian abuse? This tone confused me.
I think Haidt, in the quotation above, might have cleared it up for me. The social justice I admire is not necessarily the social justice people are raving about today. Modern social justice, identified by its focus on identity and attempts to change the way people act with minority groups, is something different. It may have roots in the left-leaning activism of which I'm familiar, but it's more ideologically-driven than that. Heck, I may have even witness a form of its roots when one of my former professors was publicly attacked for a mild, accidental identity slur in one of her classes. It bothered me then, and I can't imagine what it would be like to be a professor today, over ten years later.
And, as Haidt suggests, the immediacy of social media created this movement's power and limited scope. As politicians suggest in the embedded BBC podcast, political actions based on immediate events can lead to poor decisions, especially as more evidence piles up. As people demand immediate action in regards to social justice, I think it's to suggest that some responses will be inherently reactionary and messy.
I'm reminded of "The Clock Boy." The news of the school's apparent racism spread around social media immediately, and the outrage was thick and race-driven. Even Obama invited the boy to The White House. However, it wasn't long before other bits of information appeared that muddied the incident. I don't have an opinion on it myself, but I do think Obama's social media-driven endorsement seems, in retrospect, hasty and careless.
And just as evangelicals follow Trump for ideology's sake, leftists are following the tenets of "social justice" for ideology's sake. Social media forces both sides to make decisions and take positions before adequate evidence appears, It's a political mess because politics is not supposed to respond to so many things so quickly.
Many forces pushed me out of Christianity, but identity issues did a lot of the damage. I had been taught that my identity as a Christian was very important and worthy of maintenance, but by the time I had children I had to admit to myself that Christian identity artificially boxed me in with tidy "to be" statements. I got tired of boxes and I used my privilege to shed as many identities as I could.
However, just because I agree with Harris and Haidt about all this doesn't mean I let them off the hook. Harris' obsession with the term "regressive left" is an identifier that forces him into the very identity politics he despises. Every time he says the word, he reinforces the groupthink on both his side and his opposition's. Blanket labelling people as "regressive left" is an indefensibly vague slur. I look forward to its slow fade out of the cultural consciousness, just like "Atheism+" did.
YouTube: ephemeral ideas
Amazon | DailyMotion
DeviantArt | Duolingo | Flickr | FVRL | Kik
LinkedIn | MeetUp | MySpace
Playstation | Reddit | Snapchat
Spotify | The Internet Archive
Tinder | Vimeo | VK | WattPad