McCain, Obama, and the politics of desperation

A strange thing is happening in the Presidential race. The increasing economic pressures on American voters are not resulting in a resurgence of rationality and pragmatism. Instead, we seem to be witnessing a desperate grasping for magical solutions. McCain and Palin are dispensing Republican magic, and Obama is offering Democratic magic. Poor old Biden is just peddling the same old, same old.

What can one say to a population that refuses to face facts and believes that a ferocious old Vietnam ghost or a perky hockey mom can be a “game changer?” What can one say to people who believe that sports and gambling metaphors are the best way to describe American Presidential politics? America is like a broken down gambler at a craps table in Las Vegas risking his last few dollars on one more high-stakes roll.

Unfortunately, even if the gambler wins another throw of the dice, the odds remain against him, and that is his doom. Maybe we dodge a flu pandemic, and maybe we luck out of the next warming-related cycle of droughts and weather disruptions, and maybe we slink out of the Mideast without igniting a global war, and maybe the Chinese decide to keep lending us money for another few years, but how long can all this “good luck” continue. Not much longer. We appear to be past the point of no return in a politics of national self-delusion that features instant messiahs of varying degrees of credibility and durability. Each one promises that magic will solve our problems. But there is no such magic. You can’t get something for nothing, and you can’t lie your way to the truth.

Prudent people should be making plans to move their dollar-denominated savings into stable assets likely to survive the repudiation of America’s foreign debt and the resultant hyper-inflation. Those with the option to relocate should consider moving to nations with sound economies and responsible leaders. Americans are spending their last night in the casino praying for magic, but they will face the dawn with empty pockets and broken dreams.  

3 comments

    • Edger on September 8, 2008 at 6:22 pm

  1. The increasing economic pressures on American voters are not resulting in a resurgence of rationality and pragmatism. Instead, we seem to be witnessing a desperate grasping for magical solutions.

    Nothing new there; this is the human animal’s default reaction to stress (economic, environmental, etc). In pagan societies, when the environment cratered (a long drought, say), they’d step up the sacrifices and have their seers examine the entrails with compulsive interest. In Germany, in the early 1930s, we saw how the German people — surely one of the most if not the most gifted, sane, rational people in Europe — reacted when their economy went in the crapper.

    Why would you think that the American voter — a voter with a proven track  record of acting irrationally even under the best of circumstances — would behave any differently than humans through history have?  

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