Several weeks ago, I wrote of the infinite world of baseball opinions. Arguments, I noted, are made and re-made and then resolved by the numbers: wins, losses, RBIs, ERAs and on and on.
I compared a 162-game baseball season with political cycles. So, let’s take a look at the polls and cycles in how we govern ourselves.
Polls give us a snapshot and those that use current numbers to look out very far are the least reliable. But the political game’s analysts are eager to use their crystal ball so they tell us what this all means. Often lamely.
How many got Donald Trump right? How many wrote obituary after obituary without embarrassment? Pre-mature gravedigging turned into dark comedy as analysts explored territory unmapped in their mind.
What many failed and continue to fail to realize is how compartmentalized we have become and therefore how difficult it is for us to think beyond our own circumstances. How many in the left or right elite layers of society have served in the military? Worked with their hands for a living? Belonged to a social club where the membership fee is widely affordable?
The story of privilege is often told around status, or wealth, or position, but in my mind those who occupy those elevated perches who see more dark than light aren’t especially privileged. While my wife and I were cutting back while shouldering the expenses of raising three daughters, we nonetheless felt privileged.
But and this is the central point, light is fleeting in the lives of millions who face circumstances that overwhelm traces of optimism. Many have been assaulted by lost jobs and the depletion of opportunity for the skills they possess.
There is another problem—a 21st Century one. Families are organically complicated and over time can devolve into daily rancor. Rancor often results from cultural assumptions being reversed. Many hold traditional beliefs that are assaulted daily by this or that new theory about lifestyles and how to express them. Generations in dispute.
We live in a time of experimentation. Coffee is no longer a cup of java. Genetic engineering is the medical sensation. Gas is out, electric is in. Cops are out; sociologists are in.
Experimentation in pharmaceutical laboratories is hidden away by complexity, but gender change in early youth is not. Consumer goods innovation is disciplined by the marketplace, but who disciplines the teaching of systemic racism in schools? Or the removal of Washington or Lincoln from the title of a public school? At what cost do we disparage our founders who failed in earlier centuries to live up to our current expectations.
Dark has many faces and the monopoly that governments hold over public affairs can only be stretched so far by the promises of politicians. This is especially true when Presidents or Governors or Mayors reward loyalty over proven leadership. In an age of disruption, the ability to lead is a first-tier principle.
As this discordant mishmash gained in intensity, Donald Trump came along and notwithstanding his breaches of political and societal ethics or maybe because of them began to draw crowds. He was defiant and so were they. Those of us in our more comfortable demographic boxes actually aided his rise by our criticism.
One innovation that has enduring power is two-way media. Analysts and commentators no longer have exclusive access to channels of communications. So, I invite you to help make sense of the future.
My questions to all voters and especially Donald Trump ones:
- What is the content of Trump policies that appeal or not?
- If you could write one plank in the Republican or Democrat 2024 platforms, what would you write?
- Trump has outlived the analysts, but he can’t outlive nature. Who on the scene today, Republican or Democrat, do you believe can appeal to those who see America failing?
Now, while I have tried to make this straightforward many of you will want variations on either my pretext or set of questions. And, of course, this is an invitation to express yourself, so regardless of how you see things, don’t hesitate to weigh in.
Al Sikes is the former Chair of the Federal Communications Commission under George H.W. Bush. Al writes on themes from his book, Culture Leads Leaders Follow published by Koehler Books.