My Father, The Senator
Why contemporary political involvement is wasted effort!
My father was a little lost when he retired. It took him a couple of years to find new life routines. He took up golf, a great sport for his perfectionist nature. He got a part-time job at a rural funeral home as an usher and driver; he looked good in a black suit and his demeanor fit the job. And he joined a social club of retired men at a local coffee shop. These men would spend an hour or two a day discussing politics and drinking coffee. They were so good at knowing what the government should be doing that they called themselves “The Senators.”
And my father joined a political party. The same party that I had been working for. We weren’t likely to cross political paths for two reasons: lack of a common geography and much different levels of political involvement. I was quite active in the party; he was not.
He would attend a fundraiser if the party brought in a big name to town. He probably gave the party $100 a year. He voted in the internal party elections; he probably didn’t attend the forum before these elections to get some more facts to help him make that decision.
He never served as a board member on a political association. He never worked on an election: no putting up signs, no canvassing, no poll watching on Election Day. In a good year, he attended three political events. But he was proud party member.
In my father’s part of the Canadian political landscape, it was a preordained conclusion that our party was going to win the local election. So on election night, my father would show up after the polls closed for the free beer. He knew enough people there to have great political discussions. He was a good Senator.
Despite his meager involvement in the party, my father took pride in he was somehow saving the country. Compared to my effort, his effort was so miniscule. I was attending a meeting at least once a week, working with all sorts of people: some sane, some not quite so. I was saving the country far more than he was. The nature of our relationship was that it was best for me not to make this point in his presence.
Both of us left party politics. I left where I figured out that all political parties are inherently dysfunctional. He left when the party cast the leader aside for not winning elections. He liked the former leader.
My father believed that he was doing a great job for his political party. But the truth that he was only talking to other retired men already voting in the same way. It is doubtful the waitress forced to pour The Senators’ coffee and overhear their great insights was going to be influenced differently. If anything, she just might have voted against the curmudgeons’ preference.
Even with my elevated status in the party, I had about the same influence as my father. The party leaders set the tone and direction. My only choice was to work for the party — or not. My six years of many political meetings really did not make a better world! Maybe my father was smarter than I for making better use of spare time.
The Senators believed that they had all the right answers. They are only following what western democracy has taught us. All of us have the right answers. But the final implementation belongs to those who work democracy the best.
And yet when we believe we have the right answer and events fall into place to implement those right answers, our right answers don’t seem as right as they used to be. But our answers are still right. So little humility in politics! Even at the coffee shop level.
Senators & Medium Political Articles
I have read many Medium articles on the Biden presidency. I seldom clap. Most of these writers fail to understand on how politics really works.
Take, for example, the recent trip Ms. Harris made to Central America. Quite a few pundits say she botched this trip, so she is no longer presidential material. I would say she is still more qualified than the previous president. And her presence on the Democratic ticket probably inspired three of four million more people to vote Democrat last November. The D’s could have not afforded to lose the votes she brought in.
She might not yet be fully experienced in politics. I would wager her White House handlers had a serious discussion with her after the trip. Here’s the kicker: she will either learn from this experience or she will not. There is no number of clever Medium articles that is going to change this outcome.
Likewise, admonishing Mr. Biden for not “doing enough” is not going to change things either. He has an immense job, trying to find that right political balance while trying to keep his country on a democratic path. For example, he could order a full out legal assault on most Trump sycophants, keeping them in court room racking up big legal bills. But this will further estrange and enrage the Trump base — and leave more non-political crimes unpunished. And other forward-looking agenda items will be left undone. Or he could just have a forgiving attitude, which will result in the fickle Democrat support not making the trip to the election booth in 2022. And the transgressors become more emboldened to do more transgressing. Somewhere in the middle is a good political balance. Maybe Mr. Biden is the best person to figure this out. He has many other balances to figure out. Most of us on the outside do not understand the importance of political balancing.
I believe Mr. Biden fully understands the unique position he has been given: democracy is under attack in the USA. He has assembled a reasonably competent team to help the USA through these difficult years. This team will partake in all sorts of deliberations, looking at different solutions and bringing pros and cons of each solution. They will try to implement this and that. But no one on the inside or outside really knows how anything is going to work out. The Biden team is going to try their best. And that is all we can hope for.
So why all these negative articles on Medium about the Biden presidency?
My hypothesis is that we have been cultured to believe that such criticism — whether in coffee shops or internet forums — will eventually bend the will of those people in high positions. This belief gives us the power, not them. Right?
Guess what? I doubt it very much that the White House is paying much attention to Medium. Can you imagine this White House dialogue ever happening?
“Mr. President, this problem is very big. We don’t know what to do.”
“Go to Medium. There you will find the right answers.”
“OK. Is there any other place where we should look?”
“Could you get the CIA to plant a bug in the coffee shop in Brooks, Alberta? There’s this group called The Senators. Get me a transcript of what these wise Canadians are saying.”
“OK, Mr. President. Consider it done!
Don’t get wrong here, I believe the Biden team is watching and reading CNN and other big left-leaning outlets. They need to know what the Democrat base is being fed — and attempt to manage it. They are watching the right-wing outlets as well. This media watching is just astute politics in today’s world. And the left-leaning outlets do have a little influence on those citizens who have parked their views on the other side. So these outlets are still important to the machinations of democracy.
Despite all the reads and claps and virals, Medium political articles have zero influence on the final outcome of USA’s next five-year history, which is:
Will the USA will remain as a viable democracy where the people can collectively choose to toss out its elected leaders?
Or will the USA will effectively become a one-party state where maybe 10% of the people belong to the decision-making class?
Sorry, all you amateur political pundits. While we may not know the answers to these two questions yet, there’s nothing we can do any more to change the outcome that is going to happen. We can’t save our country in this way. All those reads and claps for your articles are coming from people just like you. There are no extra votes for 2022 or 2024 because of your great work and hours of writing effort. Even if a writer can find a handful of votes, the 32% who still support the Republican party are likely to claim election fraud if they lose. That is a big problem that cannot be solved by many more clever Medium articles.
The direction of where the USA goes in the next few years is all up to the Biden team. They will be working hard and wisely. But they might just be up to an insurmountable task.
You may say, “That is so harsh Dave. Surely my articles will find their way into a set of conservative eyes and flip his/her vote. Or maybe even traditional non-voters might be influenced to make a trip to the polls next election.”
I say, “Get over it. You have zero influence.”
“Well, we never know, do we, Dave? I will keep writing.”
Let me be an example of how little influence writing articles on Medium really is. I’ve been trying to promote an alternative democracy for two years on Medium. Most of my 166 articles and 4304 comments are on this topic.
According to my website stats, maybe about 10 Medium people have read a good part of my TDG book in the past two years. About 20 Medium people have read my TDG essay and become tepid cheerleaders for the TDG cause. No one is working for the TDG in any meaningful way.
The end results speak for themselves. I HAVE HAD ZERO INFLUENCE TO CHANGE PEOPLE’S THINKING ON MEDIUM.
If I have zero influence, then it seems logical that most political writers on Medium just might also have zero influence. Just like The Senators in the coffee shop in Brooks, Alberta.
What is the point to spend several hours crafting a clever, well-written political article if it is not going to change minds?
Maybe it’s time we put some of this complaining aside and put some of our writing/reading efforts towards building a kinder, wiser democracy instead.
Maybe it’s time to look towards the far future? Ironically, we are living in a time where we can have more control over political far future than our political near future.
I have a far-future channel for you to consider. Not 2022. Not 2024. Maybe 2032! Do it for your grandkids and great-grandkids. Let them honor your small sacrifice in 2052!