7.345 million teachable moments

clocks flying through spaceI just counted the amount of time between this past election day (9th November, 2016) and when the Electoral College votes in 2020.

All told, there are 1501 days separating them, and as each one has 24 hours, with 60 minutes in each hour, that gives us 7,345,440 minutes to pass till the next president (after this next one) is installed.

That’s all assuming, of course, that we have the right to vote in another 4 years. There are some who justifiably believe it’s a long-shot.

If nothing else, the next 1,462 days should be interesting (perhaps in the sense of the Chinese curse?). And the last thing we should do, is let them go to waste. If it all goes to hell in a handbag, and we only stand around wringing our hands and/or looking ahead to the distant future when we’ll be saved from the machinations of… those people… we are losing out on a critical opportunity to learn. And possibly even grow.

Surely, we have to start doing that sometime. For the level of discourse has been so degraded over the past year, and so many decent lessons have gone unlearned, due to partisan blinders and the partitioning of Uh’Murica into competing camps, replete with all the glorious rhetoric, propaganda, ‘n’ whatnot, that each side has effectively rendered itself incapable of learning a damn’ thing.

Parties have been so caught up in defending their RightNess… so entrenched in defending their sacred rights to believe whatever they believe from the attacks of those who believe just as fervently in their own RightNess… so invested in marking their territory… that the sort of self-critical eye required to truly and genuinely learn, has been blinded by the ongoing frenzy of attack-parry-attack-parry politicking that’s held our queasy attention for far too long.

Case in point: An article The Tainted Election by Paul Krugman, which was forwarded to me by a friend. It was apparently the most emailed piece at the New York Times on the day it came out. And what I found within was every bit as unsettling to me, as much of the stuff coming out of the other camps.

All in all, it was a pretty familiar lamentation about the impending Trump presidency. A big ole glaring “internal bullhorn” issue with this excellent article, however, was triggered by this partisan admission:

Another course of action, which you’ll see many in the news media taking, is to normalize the incoming administration, basically to pretend that everything is O.K. This might — might — be justified if there were any prospect of responsible, restrained behavior on the part of the next president.

So, as long as the results favor you, it’s justified? As long as things work in your favor, you can accept them?

Uh, no. The ends do not justify the means. It is NOT okay to normalize an administration that’s taken power with a coup and pretend all is well, on the chance that it might just work in your favor. That’s cynicism, wrapped in sackcloth and ashes.

Where has any semblance of principle gone? Normalizing this sequence of events and its expected outcome cannot be justified, under any condition — even if people agree to play nice afterwards. Like that’s going to happen, anyway. That kind of obliging capitulation would be even worse than how it is now — softening the blow of a hostile takeover… rendering us essentially a wholly owned subsidiary of Putin’s empire, without so much as a whimper. Because… maybe it won’t be so bad after all.

Additionally…

This president will have a lot of legal authority, which must be respected.

Spare me. How can we respect an abuser of legal authority? That smacks of cultural residue from an outmoded belief system, where God tells you you’re supposed to be on really good terms with people in power, because they’re “closer to Him”. Huh. Maybe in 1683, but not today. I don’t buy it.

And this I have a hard time believing:

Politics being what it is, moral backbones on Capitol Hill will be stiffened if there are clear signs that the public is outraged by what is happening.

I think the right word is “may”, rather than “will” (be stiffened). Politics being what it is, backbones on Capitol Hill will stiffen only for what is most beneficial to whatever spine they’re using, that day… and whatever will further their ends. Public outrage…? Dunno. I’m not convinced it’s a prime motivator in and of itself.

The piece is till a good read. And it’s good to know so many people have emailed it. At the same time, these traces of a really strange blend of optimistic naivete and partisan cynicism, are really the things that set off the toxic fumes alarm with me. It’s like pulling up the birdcage from the mine and seeing the canary dead as a doornob, as your friends and family descend the shaft in the elevator.

I’m becoming increasingly convinced that none of the sides (Democrat / Republican / Bernite / Trumpist) is actually capable of learning diddly about much of anything at all. To do that, you’d have to be willing — and able — to examine yourself, your ways, your thoughts, your actions, and ferret out the faults so you can address them. Change your path. Alter your course. Make amends. And so forth. But everybody’s in damage control and/or attack mode, which lends itself Not At All to the act of receptive self-examination.

Meh. I can’t help but think, So what? Who cares? I mean, that’s what the parties do. That’s what party operatives do. But as an un-enrolled independent, I have other choices. I’m actually allowed to think for myself.

The next 1462 days (or so) will offer us countless opportunities to examine the situation before us… and hopefully do some honest soul-searching. We’ve been super-keen on the magically insulating divine dispensation of American “exceptionalism” for far too long, and this is our chance to come to grips with the realities of our situation, our natures, our tendencies, our susceptibilities. If we sit back and just hope for 2020, as well as expecting the mid-term elections to save us, heaven help us.

We need to use this time for what it’s good for — a much-needed dose of medicine that forces us to take a closer, more realistic look at ourselves, get out of that incredibly tired partisan mindset, and come up with some new ideas for where we’re going as a country… and why.

This challenge is a gift. We should make use of it.

And so I shall.

I encourage you to do the same.

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