The days ahead, the aftermath of the 2014 election

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Questions only you can answer: did you vote in the 2014 election? If not, why not? If you voted, did you vote for all the candidates on the ballot? How well did you know the candidates running for the offices?

It will be days before there is reasonably accurate data, but all appearances are that only about one-third of those who could potentially vote in 2014 actually went to the polls on Tuesday. When I googled “voter turnout 2014 election united states”, here’s the first link. It’s worth scrolling down to the state by state data.

Nationally one of three voted. In Minnesota, one of two.

Minnesota is traditionally a very high turnout state, with great effort made to make voting accessible to voters. But even here we didn’t vote. In the national link (above) only half of Minnesotans who could vote actually went to the polls; this was less than the 55% who went to the polls in 2010….

In my little corner of the world, parts of two St. Paul MN suburbs, about 60% of us who are registered to vote actually voted.

Unfortunately, collectively, everywhere, we are going to richly deserve what we’re going to get in the next 24 months.

Politics is totally about Power*. We are a two-party country, despite the wishes of those who’d like to have a parliamentary kind of state.

When I cast my ballot on Tuesday, I was voting for more than just my local representatives. In effect, I (and all of us) voted for the single persons who will wield power as Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, and United States Senate Majority Leader; and for similar positions in each of our states.

If there is continued gridlock, it is what we demanded, by action, particularly by our inaction on Tuesday.

President Obama was not on any ballot on Tuesday. But he was made to be the major issue, a six year campaign by the Republicans to make it impossible for him to succeed, then to blame the President for the apparent failure.

History will clarify the Obama years and will, I think, be very kind to him. Later I will write my own impressions of his evolution, as I have watched it. That’s for later.

The U.S. will never be post-racial – we have too long and too sordid a history – but when it comes to the matter of race, the Obama years will be seen much like traversing the rapids in a seeming tranquil stream: upstream nobody notices the turbulence (racism just is); traveling through the rapids (change) is turbulent and dangerous and very frightening; succeeding the traverse changes one forever. As the so-called “greatest generation” passes on, they are being replaced by a much more tolerant multi-racial and culturally diverse society.

There will, of course, always be new rapids. But the eight year Obama administration will be as significant, if not even more so, than the Civil Rights years.

In this Democracy, our country is too large to have effective populist revolts between elections. The policies will be made by those safely in office. The ballot box is where change will have to be made. This is not to say that there can’t, or won’t, be effective actions here and there

We are in a winner-take-all time in U.S. history; there was a time not long ago when collaboration was more the rule. Not now. It will be all about who will win, and what.

I will do what I can, as I always try to do. You?

* – There will be endless opinions about what Tuesday will mean to our country. Here, here and here are samples. Here is another about the race-card and Obama.

Elections, especially in democracies, have consequences. We freely “pick our poison”.

Back in the 1920s, fearful and angry and desperate Germans slowly and democratically brought Adolf Hitler and the Nazis to power. It took a number of years to accomplish the dream of a “Thousand Year Reich”, but it happened in 1933…and lasted till destroyed 12 years later.

That’s how grandiosity works.

A quotation I actually spent considerable time ten or so years ago, seeking evidence that in fact it was true, is this one, by Hermann Goering, long time Nazi, Reichmarshall, and heir-apparent to Hitler. Th statement was made while imprisoned at Nuremberg after WWII. Goering was sentenced to death by hanging for war crimes, but committed suicide first. He was talking about how the Nazis succeeded, at least for awhile, but he could be talking about most anything, particularly today’s American politics, dominated by, let’s face it, pure propaganda….

Goering: “Why, of course the people don’t want war. Why should some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece?

Naturally, the common people don’t want war, neither in Russia, nor England, nor for that matter, Germany. That is understood, but after all it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simpler matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.”

Quoted in the book Nuremberg Diary, p. 278, Gustave Gilbert, Farrar, Straus & Co., 1947. Gilbert was psychologist assigned to the Nazi prisoners on trial at Nuremberg.

Everyone knows the rest of this story.