“For forms of Government let fools contest. Whate'er is best administered is best.” - Alexander Pope
Am I the only one in Alabama who can’t wait for this election cycle to end? Am I the only one daydreaming about the day after?
The yard signs will come down. The barrage of campaign ads and mailers will end full stop, as will the mass text messages and emails, push polls and fundraising requests. Bumper stickers may remain but will begin to fade. The daily harangues between partisans will be less frequent and less bitter — or, at least, more confined to their usual pig pens on cable news, talk radio and the Internet.
Of course, there may be some who succumb to a sort of euphoric mania the day after their candidate wins, just as some others may descend into the pits of despair the day after their candidate loses. Such can happen when partisans take politics too seriously.
For instance, the day following the reelection of Barack Obama in 2012, I recall one man, Pete, who had called into the radio show frequently during that cycle, saying to me in his Lower Alabama drawl, “They just don’t pump sunshine back where I live anymore.”
He never called again. It’s been radio silence from Pete for a decade now. I have long wondered what happened to him and if he ever found his sunshine.
Such partisan passions aside, rest assured, a certain segment of the population will let out a sigh of relief on the day after the election, no matter the outcome. I don’t know exactly how many of these people exist, but I sense that they do. And that they are my type of people.
People who believe that most elections have little to do with rational thought, honest argument or individual consent in the first place. People who see electoral politics as farcical at best. People who think human beings are better than to hitch their sunshine to any ruling class. People who reject the very idea that government force and fraud is a necessary "public service" for civilization to thrive.
If there was ever an outward stamp of man’s depraved nature, it is our many attempts to create political authority. We are rather bad at it, yet we continue giving it a go. If not for our support, it would cease to exist, but we persist in our attempts to rearrange state power only to be proven time and time again that we are indeed the blind leading the blind – even those of us blessed enough to vote as citizens in the world’s greatest democratic republic.
Everyone seems to know political authority is not to be trusted, but we cannot seem to shake our baser urges to reaffirm the damned dirty thing over and over.
Take, for instance, the average American partisan. Let’s call him Pete.
While Pete may distrust and even fear the authority of a foreign power or a government run by the opposition party, he also simultaneously believes that his nation, his government, his party and his candidate are good, proper and necessary for the sake of preserving the human race. One of the tallest tales in the great American storybook is the idea that Pete hates government tyranny. The truth is Pete only hates that government tyranny which is not his own to command, whether literally as an office holder or figuratively as a supporter.
Accordingly, modern American elections are often a jealous affair, corrupting the voters and candidates alike. Just look at a list of logical fallacies, and there you will find a guide book for succeeding in electoral politics. Maybe Churchill was right that “democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”
And to Winston’s point, the libido dominandi is not unique to the democratic process. Nor is it unique to the American voter or the people of Alabama. Hubris has hoodwinked many a people in their quests to erect state power and privilege for the sake of security, order, riches, fame, glory, gods and liberty.
Having gone by many names in many languages with many justifications, political authorities have risen to power thinking their rule was just and their form of government would last forever. These authorities always serve a single recurring proposition — that the initiation of force by government authority is necessary for human flourishing — and it is this haunting proposition that has bolstered the capricious rise (and fall) of many political authorities.
Rose Wilder Lane puts the matter well:
“…history is one long record of revolts against certain living rulers, and revolt against kinds of living Authority. They replace the priest by a king, the king by an oligarchy, the oligarchs by a despot, the despot by an aristocracy, the aristocrats by a majority, the majority by a tyrant, the tyrant by oligarchs, the oligarchs by aristocrats, the aristocrats by a king, the king by a parliament, the parliament by a dictator, the dictator by a king, the king by — there’s six thousand years of it, in every language. Every imaginable kind of living Authority has been tried, and is still being tried somewhere on earth now.”
That said, the day after the election, we will thankfully be done with our least worst system of government, if only for a short time.
No longer will we treat fools as wise. No longer will neighbors be arguing over which lesser evil to choose. No longer will the common people — mind you, the sanest people in our society because they largely ignore politics — spend their precious time debating the ambitions of political personalities. For a few months, honest debate may even sneak into the public discourse. Some may even find friendship with former political opponents.
Then, just as things will start to look up, just as people start to get their bearings in the new political reality, just as society starts to heal, another election will come. The scabs will be torn off, and the process will begin again — our election cycles rising and falling like man’s many authorities of old.
So, enjoy the day after the election. Enjoy the short honeymoon to follow. Enjoy it before the storm of the next cycle looms too large and begins anew.
After all, if staying on the sunny side of life means anything, it’s learning to enjoy the sun when it does shine, even if tomorrow may look like rain.
Joey Clark is a native Alabamian and currently, the host of the radio program News and Views on News Talk 93.1 FM WACV out of Montgomery, AL M-F 9 am-12 noon. His column appears every Tuesday in 1819 News. To contact Joey for media or speaking appearances as well as any feedback please email [email protected]. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to [email protected].