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If a Martian, or some other space creature, landed to do a study on human nature and the behavior of people in the 21st-century, one of the most confounding situations they would confront would be politics in America.
We live in a nation where those who run the country don’t make decisions based on what’s good for the people. Instead, they are governed by the dictates of those who establish the agenda of their political party.
This does not seem like an altogether losing proposition when differences between the two predominant parties are minor. But when the contrasts are so large that they dictate quality of life for people in the respective parties, it’s amazing how consistently people manage to vote against their own interests.
It would be baffling to an alien to see people categorically dismiss great ideas from intelligent individuals who happen to be of different political persuasions. There’s no question that many in this nation will vote for policies and procedures that put them in dire straits if it means sustaining party loyalty or disassociating with folks based on stereotypes.
Even more shameful is the fact that people frequently vote based on the influence of factors that have nothing to do with the actual issues being considered. For example, if there is a perception that a particular policy is most beneficial to people of color, there are white people, who summarily dismiss the possibility of supporting it no matter how virtuous the concept.
We would be hard pressed to explain to the space creature exploring the human thought process how a nation can be satisfied with 35 percent of the registered voters, not even 35 percent of the population, determining critical policies that impact how we live. And yet more folks choose not to register than those who assume responsibility. Many who register to vote won’t.
This alien would find out quickly that humans are quick to give superficial reactions to things to which they object vehemently. There might be an angry call into a talk radio show if they are upset. They may even decide to go to a public meeting of a governing body to complain. In rare instances, disgruntled citizens may call or write their leadership.
But like clockwork, most of the gripes of everyday people eventually subside. So those in office know if they simply wait out the storm, it will soon pass. If killing 22 children in school and mass murders on a daily basis aren’t enough to push people to demand better, nothing will. We would just have to explain to our space visitor that most citizens have short retention spans and even more are nonchalant.
There would probably be nothing harder to explain about American politics than reports this week that the deplorable former president is leading the impactful incumbent in five out of six swing states. How can we say it’s because Biden is too old, when his perceived Republican opponent is only three years younger. It’s a ridiculous supposition.
If we contend that people are elected, based on their track record, their current contributions, or their potential for future positive impact on citizenry, these polls seem even more ridiculous. There are no angels in politics. Joe Biden has legitimate opponents, who resent his political history and some of his philosophical positions.
But it is nonetheless confusing to ponder how we can explain his running neck and neck with a man accused of sexually assaulting two dozen women, being found guilty in civil court of racist policies, who has been bankrupt more than half a dozen times, who has absolutely no record of public service or community engagement.
With whatever apprehensions people may have about an 80-year-old running the nation, could it possibly be more threatening than a 77-year-old awaiting trial on four criminal indictments totaling 91 charges. Compound that daunting reality with the fact that the former president is racist, sexist, xenophobic and is a habitual liar. The alien won’t comprehend troubling and contradictory political reason across the nation. And frankly, neither do most most Americans.
CIRCLE CITY CONNECTION by Vernon A. Williams is a series of essays on myriad topics that include social issues, human interest, entertainment and profiles of difference-makers who are forging change in a constantly evolving society. Williams is a 40-year veteran journalist based in Indianapolis, IN – commonly referred to as The Circle City. Send comments or questions to: [email protected].