Georgia's runoff: an answer from the US


From mob-thinking worldwide, to touring Venice.

This is a guest post by Tom Henderson, written in response to what I shared yesterday, during the Georgia Runoff on how unbelievably broken voting is in the USA, when you watch it from a distance.

Georgia's runoff: an answer from the US /img/us-voting-lines.jpg

Here is what Tom wrote, as I received it, followed by my answer. If anybody else wants to publish other comments to that post (or any other post!) of mine here, just ask!

By Tom Henderson: Democracy vs Mob Rule; Outcome: Democracy Wins.

I believe that there is no additional benefit to the Italian system, and yours can be as easily manipulated by mob-thinking as any other. I explain below, why.

Democracy vs Mob Rule; Outcome: Democracy Wins.

The US Elections are being soundly criticized, internationally. From all appearances, US democracy is in jeopardy. US democracy is indeed in danger, but the elections are not the problem.

The problem is: Fear. Simply fear.

Let me explain.

As we are tribal animals, our element tribe is The Family. We extend that to those that have shared interests, and those interests can be quite varied. Within these tribes are trust. TRUST is a very important word, as you’ll see.

In all countries around the world, with very few exceptions, the axiom “We’re from the government and we’re here to help” is universally distrusted. The more an individual is removed from broad social contexts, the more this axiom holds true because government doesn’t reach them.

In urban centers, there is more governmental trust because people see more direct involvement by government. There are roads, zoning, regulations, and many people living closely together bound by a common sense of civility.

The civility overlaps with government, who is the ostensible enforcer of civility, but whose presence is better heard, not seen directly.

The rural populations, isolated in the US from urban observations, have a stronger sense of distrust. Natively, they have generations that also believe in community and religion. Observations made of activities outside of their community and religion drive fear and distrust.

Fear and distrust were harnessed by astute if inept social media manipulators. Because of the opaque nature of portions of US Government, the parts that can’t be seen or easily understood became the components of something termed, “The Deep State”, which became attached to another problem with government, bureaucracy, called “The Swamp”.

Differing fears and visible (and invisible) distrusts merged into a movement, whose energies were amplified by social media into still stronger movement.

Merged into Deep State, Swamp, were other seeming robberies, those of jobs (to immigrants, illegal immigrants, and hazily, people of color) losses. Fears of sexual identities, those of non-heteronormative individuals, hazily LGBTQA/etc people were formed into The Gay Agenda, and the Gay Agenda was merged into the aforementioned fears and distrusts.

Now, the tent was larger for Fear as an Identity, but Make America Great Again/MAGA was used as the focal point to focus the fear memes together as an agenda. These same elements are found internationally, but the US is very good at media dissemination, and this glued-together Frankenstein of an agenda, became a political movement.

It became fueled by fear memes, the so-called QAnon and peripheral white power, xenophobic agendas. Nothing new in any constituent part of these agendas except that now, each group nodded to each other through the focal point of MAGA and its burgeoning political power.

A recent philosopher, Dr Norman Vincent Peale, had described a world where your own energy could deny what was wrong, and you could make reality through your own energy. One acted as though one’s perceptions were real, and by doing so, could make them indeed real.

This is Donald J. Trump and any number of others, that believed that through sheer willpower, they could change the world.

Except that they can’t.

Nonetheless, they will deny reality around them, believing until they must ignore reality, then complain that they were robbed of the reality that they had worked for. This is very dangerous.

Followers of these individuals and this belief system were energized and followed these infected leaders into dangerous territory. In the interim, rational individuals carried on, using the ideals described and adhered to through the US Constitution. Through four years of increasingly insane leadership, we persevered.

I was an election inspector in Indiana. I was one small cog in a much larger machine sworn to uphold that constitution. We voters did our job; we inspectors did our counts.

The election outcome was then denied by those who believe they can build their own realities. Today and for a while, the dissonance between the MAGA agenda and the voters will continue to grind like sand tossed into a gearbox.

This has happened before, but not with the added volume of social media to amplify each horrendous grinding noise. It’s how democracy works, its checks-and-balances energizing to uphold the ideals long ascribed by the US citizenry.

The MAGA agenda is likely to split back into differing constituencies, but it will be dis-empowered by the downfall presented by democracy and reality. Each part will continue to exist. Fear is a part of how we survived, but enabled by mob-culture, it will be battled again.

Me: it’s two different levels

I am very happy that Tom felt moved enough by my post to write this reply. After reading it, I can confidently say that:

  • I agree with the great majority of Tom’s analysis, and the disagreement are really not worth becoming “enemies”
  • I agree because I am well aware that I could “reformat” almost everything that Tom wrote to describe the socio-political situation here in Italy, now, doing only minor editing. Names, priorities, specific causes, timelines, ways to express or suppress needs… those are different from place to place, of course. But the underlying story, and forces, are very similar
  • I see Tom’s motivation to answer me coming from one misunderstanding, or more likely from looking at what happened yesterday in the USA, starting at different levels. Here is why. Tom began his answer writing:

“I believe that there is no additional benefit to the Italian system, and yours can be as easily manipulated by mob-thinking as any other.”

Now, if by “system” we mean the general culture, the general public opinion, the general political class, and many other, equally general parts of society, whose common trait is being “closer” than what I’m going to mention soon, to the interior “working” of all human beings… then yes, I have no doubt that the italian “system” can be “as easily manipulated by mob-thinking as any other.” I see proofs of this every day, from my screens and my windows.

But yesterday’s post was not to any US “system” at that level. What I find uniquely unreal, and on which I stand on my positions, is only one word, in one sentence of what Tom wrote:

“I was an election inspector in Indiana. I was one small cog in a much larger machine sworn to uphold that constitution. We voters did our job; we inspectors did our counts.”

Yesterday’s post is only, exclusively about that “machine”, that is the US uniquely unreal way to manage voting, at all stages and sides that I described yesterday.

Imagine tourists hiring a guide, to tour Venice in a special way, that is on some boat that they would all operate together, with the guide as captain. They will have to trust the guide’s judgment in spending their money, choosing boat and itinerary, assigning roles.

Everything could go wrong. One or more tourists may be lazy, or unwilling to do their part. Another may use the tour to commit suicide, making everybody else drown too. The guide may be dishonest, or not know the Canals and thus get lost, and God knows what else.

Georgia's runoff: an answer from the US /img/typhoon-3-submarine.jpg

Now if, by some mysterious circumstance, all those tourists and their guide were all born, and had always lived, inside a nuclear submarine… they would find perfectly natural to tour the canals of Venice in a nuclear submarine, because that is the only “boat” they’ve seen in their whole lives. Mind you, if everybody did their part as expected, they may still be able to cross Venice, or some parts of it at least, with a nuclear submarine. They would just spend much more time, money and effort to get from A to B.

That is the only goal of what I wrote yesterday: sharing my discomfort in seeing Americans still using a nuclear submarine, for a job made to order for five-centuries old, manually operated gondolas.

This is difficult to see from inside, probably, and this proposal may a be a good example: it attempts to solve the same problems I listed yesterday, and would surely be an improvement. But, exactly because it comes from inside the US, it confuses liabilities with non-negotiable features, and therefore remains a nuclear submarine trying to cross Venice. A smaller one, but still a submarine, for a gondola job.

Italy votes with gondolas, and still has huge problems, for all the reasons Tom wrote, and more. I am painfully aware of that. But at least, as meagre a consolation this may be for me, bringing 1000 Italians to a polling booth, and then counting their votes without questions, costs orders of magnitudes less in money + person-hours + suspicion + never-ending conspiracy theories + any other metrics you can think of.

That is all I wanted to say, and will continue to say, and it seems to me that it does not contradicts anything that Tom wrote.

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