?

Log in

No account? Create an account
Managing Our Expectations - Eroticdreambattle [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Tony Grist

[ userinfo | livejournal userinfo ]
[ archive | journal archive ]

Managing Our Expectations [Jan. 10th, 2017|12:49 pm]
Tony Grist
We expect too much of our politicians. But then again they seem to expect us to expect too much of them.

Here, for example, is Theresa May sermonizing about how much good she means to do. It sounds very much like the sermons David Cameron delivered when he was newly hatched. Did he achieve any of the good he intended? Will she?

And here's Barack Obama leaving office. Remember the rhetoric of his ascension? All that trumpeting of Hope? His supporters and well-wishers have largely concealed from themselves how very unimpressive the record of his time in office has been. Banks unchallenged, Wall St let off the hook, criminal justice system unreformed, Gitmo retained, the economy unstimulated, the poor still as poor as they ever were, the rich as rich- if not richer, wars aggressively pursued, dissidents persecuted with a vengeance.  In most respects Obama's presidency has been a continuation of Bush's.  All that changed was the tone...

...And by the same token Trump's presidency will be a continuation of Obama's- only with a different tone.  Here's a single example: Trump makes a big deal of deporting illegal immigrants. You'd think from this that he's proposing a new and harsher regime. But that's simply not the case. Obama deported 2.5 million illegals during his time in office- but didn't shout about it. The policy exists; one man enforced it quietly, his successor will enforce it noisily. If you're a Mexican being bussed back to the border the effect is much the same. Nothing has changed except the rhetoric. Liberal, conservative- it's really just a matter of the noises you make...

And here's the upside- because there is an upside: if politicians have less power to effect change for the good than we all choose to believe so they have less power to effect change for the worse. What looks like change is mainly window dressing. Real change comes from below- from a changing of hearts and minds. It can't be imposed by fiat from above.

A nation is a collection of millions of individuals- with varying amounts of power (but very few entirely without it)- most of them bonded into collectives of one kind and another- and all pretty much set in their ways. Changing the person at the top is much less of a big deal than we'd like to think.
linkReply

Comments:
[User Picture]From: dadi
2017-01-10 03:45 pm (UTC)
I don't wholly agree with this. When the person at the top who comes to power is somebody very intent on giving a "bad example" in every sense, he somehow seems to give license to all those who were kept in reigns until now by conventions, political correctness, call it how you want, to break out the worst in them.
I have seen it happen in Italy.. when Berlusconi came to power, the "dark side" in every Italian - the cheating, macho, primitive part - finally saw a possibility to express itself, and express itself it did. The general social climate has gotten so much worse in those years, the country has not been the same and probably will never be again. Something is broken, obviously it is not "only" Berlusconi's fault, but he caught the collective subconscious' worst parts and made them into a physical form. Just like Hitler did with the Germans, and and and....
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2017-01-10 03:58 pm (UTC)
It's a chicken and egg thing. Did the zeitgeist produce Berlusconi or did Berlusconi produce the zeitgeist? Same with Hitler.

I'm inclined to think forces build and build within a nation and then there's an eruption- and the eruption takes the form of a leader who embodies the national id. I think such eruptions are all but inevitable.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: dadi
2017-01-10 04:13 pm (UTC)
I do have these doubts too from time to time.. but I always have hope into the possibility that these forces can be somehow "dispersed" into other passions.. football, other sports, song contests, whatever.. there was a research here some time ago, stating that people who got really worked up about some team sport or other contests (watching, not necessarily participating) were much less inclined to engage into extremist political views, be they right or left. Obviously there are exceptions, as a lot of hooligans are also often inclined towards the far right, but in general I have found it to be true, as long as these contests are not about a NATIONAL thing but a team one or even a single star or feature.
Bread and Games, always the old thing....
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2017-01-10 04:19 pm (UTC)
That's interesting.

Yes, the old Romans knew a thing or two. Channel the people's aggression into sports and entertainments and they'll not bother themselves about politics.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: halfmoon_mollie
2017-01-10 04:15 pm (UTC)
I am not saying you aren't mostly correct. But there is one thing you have to remember about our government - President Obama didn't govern in a vacuum,the legislative branch of the government was against him from the beginning. Almost nothing he wanted got done - except what is called "Obamacare". And I'm not exactly sure how that held on.

But your last paragraph, well, that is correct. Along with this quote: People get the government they deserve. Although, I don't know what I did to deserve Trump.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2017-01-10 04:45 pm (UTC)
This is true. A President doesn't work in a vacuum. He's not a dictator. He's a cog in the machine of government and has to fight and wheedle and manoeuvre just like everyone else. And if he's a weak man- George W Bush for instance- he's liable to be pressured and influenced and manipulated by those around him. Besides the government of the USA is a vast, sprawling thing- and no single person could possibly comprehend and control it all. This may be paranoia talking, but I've read that a President's security clearance only goes so far up the ladder- and there are parts of government- the whole black ops dimension- to which he has absolutely no access.

(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: tagryn
2017-01-11 02:04 am (UTC)
Slight quibble - Obama's party held majorities in both the House and Senate in 2009-2010, which is when ACA/Obamacare was passed without any GOP support (or input, depending on which version one hears). The Democrats also held the Senate majority up until 2015. So, POTUS did have a legislative window to get his agenda passed.

Coming from the Senate, you'd think he'd have had more success maneuvering with or around Congress than he did. That'll be something for the historians to write about, when it comes to considering his legacy.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: sinsterminister
2017-01-10 05:00 pm (UTC)
I can see your point, but I think simply dismissing Obama's eight years in office does a dis-service to the folks that really did benefit from some of the things that came through under his watch.

For example, my sister suffers from a brutal combination of lupus and narcolepsy. Pre-ACA, she went through a vicious cycle of being uninsured or underinsured due to the "pre-existing condition" tag insurance companies could slap on you. Even working regular hours and making decent money, she was 6 figures in medical debt by 24 years of age. With ACA, she signed up and never looked back. If it goes back to the way it was, she's looking at bankruptcy or death within a year or two (I'd prefer bankruptcy, myself).

Myself, I was never able to afford graduate school until Pell grants got extended under BO. Now I have the masters' degree I always wanted, and will pay back my government loans within 6 years of graduation because of the extra I'm earning.

Nevermind repealing DADT, cash for clunkers, etc.

I understand it wasn't all unicorns and rainbows like he promised (the Iran deal sucked, Gitmo never closed, government surveillance is way up, environmental progress came to a screeching halt, war rages on), but I think, given the economic and social benefits that expanded under BO, I think history will probably look pretty favorably on his tenure. Not quite Clinton/Reagan level, but probably a notch below.

Edited at 2017-01-10 05:01 pm (UTC)
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2017-01-10 05:29 pm (UTC)
Fair enough.

It's a mixed legacy. As every legacy is. I'm not sure what G W Bush did that was worth doing but Tony Blair- who is now hated over here as Bush's willing partner in the criminal invasion of Iraq- achieved some good things domestically.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: tagryn
2017-01-11 02:17 am (UTC)
Bush's main positive international legacy was his Africa health initiatives. There's certainly many, many thousands of people in Africa who wouldn't be alive today if it weren't for PEPFAR and other humanitarian initiatives in Africa which happened under Bush. It basically stopped the AIDS catastrophe that was staring down the continent, which is probably why it doesn't get a lot of attention: stopping something from happening can look a lot like accomplishing nothing to the casual observer.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2017-01-11 09:29 am (UTC)
That's good. Credit where credit is due.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: kishenehn
2017-01-10 05:42 pm (UTC)
I'm as left-leaning as they come, and have gotten in trouble with friends for expressing a similar disappointment.

Obama received a powerful progressive mandate from the voters eight years ago, and the one thing he most needed to do -- by far -- was to preserve and strengthen that mandate. He rapidly and utterly failed in that, partially through an early lack of decisiveness, I think, and that's exactly what set the world up for Donald Trump.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2017-01-10 05:58 pm (UTC)
Obama blew it. Perhaps he was weak, or distracted, or corrupted- or perhaps his hands were tied and it wasn't really his fault, but whatever the reason he failed his supporters.

And thereby destroyed people's faith in the ability of so-called progressive politicians to deliver anything worthwhile. And, yes, that was one of the things that made Trump possible.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: howlin_wolf_66
2017-01-11 05:12 pm (UTC)
Sometimes, a change of tone is welcome!
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2017-01-11 05:35 pm (UTC)
Yes, certainly.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)