A vote for simplicity

I’m as surprised by the outcome of the U.S. election as anyone. I wondered what happened and how a person with such simplistic and flawed (and vague) policies could have been elected. The policies that he did have were crude and simple for problems that are long standing and complex.

Then it hit me. Much of the appeal would be the simplicity. We are overloaded as a society and many of the problems we face are complex and require a strong focus, expertise and ongoing monitoring and adjustment to move in the right direction much less solve.

What Trump had was simplicity.

  • Want to stem illegal immigration: Build a wall
  • Want to deal with the large number of undocumented overstayers: Deport them
  • What to deal with ISIS: Bomb them
  • Don’t like the previous healthcare: Repeal it

All dead simple solutions. All unlikely to resolve anything but at least iof people understand the response, they can feel like something is being done about it.

Personally, I think it was a popular vote for simplicity. These problems aren’t simple. What is heartening is that it seems Trump is listening.

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Things will never be the same…

For centuries, we have labored under a polite fiction, the fiction that political candidates win over the electorate with rational policies and arguments. This has been proved massively untrue by the events in the U.S. where a come from nowhere demagogue has used pretty much raw personality  to become one of the two main contenders.

Initially Trump ranked tenth with only 3% of the votes but through sheer force of personality, and unrealistic populist policies such as a ban on Muslims and a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, backed by numerous policy flip-flops he is now the Republican Party Presidential Candidate.

The genie is out of the bottle. Where Sarah Palin peeked under the carpet, Trump strips off the veneer and exposes the awful truth, that politics is just like anythings else, won by soundbites and emotion.

Perhaps this is the beginning of the end. As politicians absorb the lessons from this election, expects things to head in a new direction. Perhaps politics will start to use some of the same tricks used in other industries such as the fast food industry.

We may get an election or perhaps two based on the current fiction, but in 2028, will the winning candidate be endorsed by a line of bikini clad models? The only one who can stop this is you, the voters, by caring and listening and thinking things through. There’s never been a more important time to be a voter and protect your democracy.

Writing Inspiration: Isn’t allowing the most colourful and engaging candidate with the best sound bites win, the same as voting at random.

Trump Wins the U.S. Presidency!

May as well hear it here first. I know there’s an advantage to being the first news outlet to report breaking news so I thought I’d get in real early. It’s not that I want him to win, or support him. I just think he will win. And the only reason is people are voting crazy. The 99% movement. Brexit. The rise of the right in Europe. Wherever there’s a protest vote, people seem to be taking it. I wonder what the voters regret for bringing in Trump will be called?

Is this going to be bad? Who knows. The choice is for Clinton who almost epitomizes the political system. The same system that people don’t trust. That they wanted Obama to change eight years ago. Or Trump, who will more than likely kick the shit out of the system or attempt to. Maybe it’s for the best. It would take a no holds barred, skin like an elephant character like Trump to affect the system. The risk is what he replaces it with.

Maybe, Trump can’t break the system but instead demonstrates beyond all doubt that it is broken and people wake up. If we are lucky. We’ll know if that happens when Democrats and Republicans start to agree on key issues. That’s the sign of a healthy democracy, when the opposition agrees on things that make sense. Watching the bickering over the past decade has been hugely disappointing. Once the U.S. represented democracy and the free world. I’m note sure now. I don’t know which country does. Where is democracy healthy these days?

Demagogues like Trump are the sign of an unhealthy democracy. One that wants to expel the sickness. Will Trump be as bad as people make out?

My pick is that we will get to find out. My other pick is that it’s not as bad as people fear. The systems is too resilient for that.

Writing Inspiration: A lot of alternative histories are based around ultra conservative governments. For once, we have one ahead of us. What does that do to the world?

Black People are not Aliens

This is my response to a question by another writer asking about whether to include a black person in their story. Others were tending to say that she might struggle and should write what she knows.

Write what you know does NOT exclude black people. You know them. Even if you have never met one. You know them because they are people first. They do not define themselves by their blackness. The minor character in your story will define herself as a person, as a friend, as a mother, as a lover, as a doer of whatever she does for fun or money. Write a person. Describe black skin. It will will succeed. Guaranteed.

The correct short name for black people isn’t blacks, it’s people.

The Changing Face of Power

America has a new image, a woman staring down almost impossibly armored riot police in Baton Rouge.

Powerful as this image is in the contemporary setting in which it was taken, what’s more revealing is what it reveals about the changes in our society over time. Let’s imagine this scene playing out at different times.

In the middle ages, protesting against authority would have been viewed as treason. Likely outcome: burned at the stake.

In 1800 in Baton Rouge, an act of defiance like this would have been dealt with as a slave discipline issue. Likely outcome: suspended upside down and whipped until unconscious.

In 1900 this would have been seen as an afront to authority and a black person interfering with white folks business (use of a public road). Likely outcome: brutally dragged off and locked away by a sham court process.

In 1960 this would have been seen as an act of civil disobedience. Likely outcome: arrested and violently dragged off. Probably charged and released unless they could pin something significant on her.

2016? Quietly arrested and a symbol of the protest movement.

Across all time periods if she was armed and prepared to fight? Likely outcome: killed on the spot by the authorities.

Guns don’t make you strong. In fact, the more civilized the society, the less relevant guns become for resolving conflicts. Now, they are a hindrance. Bring a gun, and you undermine your moral position.

Story Inspiration: Where could this end up? Owning a gun becomes proof of antisocial tendencies? Politicians being asked if they owned guns just as currently they get challenged on whether they ever smoked dope?

How are the Cops like an Abusive Spouse?

Wow, read this for some perspective on the current problems with the U.S. police. This author describes U.S. cops (who happened to be presenting to schoolchildren) as saying the same things that abusive spouses do. If we stop you and kill you, it’s your fault…

…go figure.

Writing Inspiration: If the police keep heading down this line,  what would our society look like? Any infraction could have unintended consequences. The Black Lives Matter want equality when being stopped by the police, one form of equality is that everyone gets treated the way they do when stopped!

Confusabrexit

I read an article in the newspaper about the next British P.M. It mentioned that she was a remain supporter but was determined that once in office she would invoke Article 50 and leave the E.U. I was planning a blog that suggested that, just because you brought a lemon, you didn’t always have to live with it. Anyway, I went searching for the link to the article and instead found this.

Seems that I have been letting economics dominate my thinking. Personally I hate that NZ food standards are defined in Australia. I hate it with a vengeance because I believe that consumers aren’t being given the information to make good informed choices about their food, particularly where it comes from and the conditions of labour under which it is produced. I mean, what the hell does ‘sourced from local and imported ingredients’ mean?
Imagine that lack of control across every aspect of my country –¬† I’d be as angry as a snake. Now I start to better understand some of the Brexit arguments.

What do I believe is right, mmmm, it’s not the decision but how it is executed. Good luck, new British P.M.

Who’s got the Power?

Sometimes there’s an image that sums up a conflict. In one moment it frames the conflict revealing a truth that is hard to ignore. The burned girl running from napalm in Vietnam, revealed the brutal and unforgiving impact of modern weapons released onto a rural society. The man standing alone in front of a column of tanks in Tienanmen Square, demonstrated the massive imbalance of power between the protesters and the Chinese government.

America has a new image, a woman staring down almost impossibly armored riot police in Baton Rouge.

The serene, proud and defiant figure that forced the police to come out from their lines and arrest her. What is happening here is on her terms. She holds the power in this photo. The police in their riot gear look over-equipped and all the weaker for it. A couple of normal police officers arresting her would not have had the same impact. It would have seemed too ordinary. What’s happened here is that she has demonstrated the police force’s total overreaction of the police to a people’s plea to be safe. It’s almost as if they are at war with their own people and she’s called it out.

The thing about these iconic photos is that they stay with us forever. They are timeless but for those that remember the event, the image will bring us right back to these times. And who knows when and how this will end. I hope that these events lead to meaningful change, that people with darker skin are safer from the overreaction of a highly strung police force. That the police return to the role that they should play, from enforcer to protector. That people stop dying needlessly. That people can stop living in fear of the people that are supposed to protect them. That this image represent a turning point.

African Americans have come a long way in gaining their civil rights. They can vote, get an education, becomes doctors, lawyers or movie stars. They can lead armies. One of their number can even rise to the highest office in the land. It seems ironic that the last bastion of rights they have to fight for is for their lives to be treated equally to those of white people.

What it Says on the Tin

The Dallas shootings are wrong. In my opinion, there is nothing that justifies them. But they have happened and that means someone has decided that they are justified enough to take matters into their own hands. That someone has now been identified as someone carrying a lot of anger. Someone who also had access to firearms. In short, motivation (in their own mind) and means.

The result is an all to familiar mass killing via assault rifle.

There are many, many social issues underlying what is going on in the States at the moment. All this stuff would work out over time and in a civilized manner except only in the United States do they add guns to the mix.

The U.S. is only one of three countries that has a constitution that enshrines the right to bear arms. The other two are Mexico and Guatemala. Only the United States doesn’t have limitations over the right included in its constitution. Guns for just about everybody.

The historical story behind the second amendment is that it was enshrined after the American Revolution as one of the lessons learned after fighting the English, they only had a chance because they had guns. The justification is that arms are a requirement for a well organized and effective militia. This includes the argument to deter or oppose oppression.

Well, I can’t speak on behalf of others by if you have a mass outrage at a string of injustices, then it doesn’t stretch belief that some would view that as a form of oppression and chances are, that’s what happened in this case. It doesn’t make it right. It makes it tragic that events gave the motivation and the constitution enshrined the means. The tragedy in Dallas is in no way justified but it is the second amendment in action.

If you you can’t stop fear or anger or hate, at least stop escalating it with guns. It’s a democracy, you have other ways to let your citizens solve problems.

It’s not my country but, from a distance, it’s tragic to watch as these events repeat themselves. Tragic and needless.