Electability. Pfft.

I wrote this just about a week before the virus panic started. Now that we’ve kind of settled down a little, we still have an election to think about. And we might even come up with a workable, reliable, online voting system, counted by girl scouts and nuns (thank you Jane Stillwater). But there are considerable interests that are dead set against that, because — well we all know what would happen if everybody voted, and their votes were actually counted honestly. I’ll just say it flatly: Bernie would be elected by a landslide.

But see what you think after reading this earlier rant…

First of all, as to “electability”, there ain’t no such-a-thing. That has to be hindsight, by definition. Before the fact, the thing had no meaning and no application, and is certainly no basis for selecting a candidate. But it’s a wonderful word for TV pundits to argue about with each other. There is no possibility that anything will come of it that could place their paychecks in danger. They’re perfectly safe prattling on whilst thinking of other things.

We’re in a new paradigm. There are factors in play now that nobody seems to be considering, which is typical of paradigm change. We might as well track the size of the candidates’, um, hands, against winning campaigns of history, to find some repeating pattern that will tell us the future.

The new paradigm is not the present occupant; he is a symptom of it. The new paradigm came in when enough people got on the Internet to form new markets for aggregated attention. One day Big Data was King. The next, there was trade at the source of BD, upstream where the most eyeballs are focused in any given tenth of a second. That’s where all the behavioral “surplus” (see Zuboff) is harvested. It isn’t just what you click on, it’s how many of you click on it in a given fraction of a second. It grinds out enough data to call you by name and credit score, and tell you where you will be going, and what you will buy. Or vote for.

So “electability”? Pfft.

This was an accident. It’s a technological cultural evolution, like taming fire or smelting bronze. Now we use fire and rocks to make these machines that find out everything that’s none of their business. It just happened at a bad time. 45’s earlier campaigns were pathetic, but in 2016, suddenly effective. No change in tactics. Never had a strategy. His misogyny and racism and xenophobia–we need a new word for all three–were reputation destroying campaign killers, then became name-recognition hot sauce. New paradigm. It allowed an “unelectable” carnival-shill attention addict to hijack us by the amygdala. Now when we start to blink, he Tazes® us again.

So about the candidates. Elizabeth Warren  is wonderful [Remember, I wrote this in late February, before the Democrat machine threw the switch and everybody but Bernie jumped on the Biden bandwagon, which was mired up to the hubnuts back then], and she’s missing something. It isn’t a penis or brains or wisdom or heart. She is a hero for her work in the consumer protection fight, and so much more. She cares what people think, and wants to relate authentically. She is totally convincing, and brilliant, and admirable. That’s an “electability” problem, in the world I just described, which is, mind you, being spun like a beachball on the short, stumpy digits of a wannabe tinpot dictator, like that scene in Chaplin’s famous sendup of Hitler, and nobody is stopping him.

In that world, you pour money into the next generation of Cambridge Analytica, and fire memes at our mid-brains. You get exactly the results you contract for, or get the Russians to pay for, and get inaugurated, even if there are only sixteen onlookers. You don’t for one minute think anybody is getting elected by superior knowledge and cogent reasoning. 

So twentieth-century.

The DNC desperately wants to do that Cambridge thing for anybody but Bernie. They can’t control him at all. He scares the crap out of them. They think they know how the game is played. Maybe they did, in the old world, in the first Obama term. That was then.

Bernie, on the other hand. It’s not that he understands all that paradigm stuff. He might. But understanding, as a great man said, is the booby prize. It doesn’t get anybody elected. However, like No. 45, by purest accident, he was born for this new paradigm too. An accident. There’s no possible preparation for a paradigm shift of the magnitude we’ve just experienced.

In this new world a candidate has to be first a spectacle, and never an intellectual exercise; must elicit action directly, not from rational thinking. Fortunately though, rational thinking, should it happen, backs Sanders up with a substantial and unwavering track record of integrity and honest dealing. The contrast is like night and day. Sanders is exactly what he represents; no. 45 is a vapid fiction he rewrites every time his lips move. But he’s also a terroristic narcissist, so it’s going to be tricky.

There is only one thing needed to turn this situation around: a landslide. In a system that is as rigged, sold-out, corrupt, crooked and dysfunctional as these oligarchs can make it, somebody has to get an overwhelming number of votes, and they must be cast, and then counted. So it can’t be done with a tiny margin of electoral votes, or a few million more popular votes. It has to be a total, undeniable, unexplainable, unspinnable landslide. More votes than the incumbent, twice as many, might be enough to get that scumbag out of our lives. Short of that, we deserve our sad fate.

Now, who is most likely going to turn out that many committed voters? Voters who have connected the dots, and will also vote in state and local elections?

Time to get serious, folks. Line up like it’s Elvis, like it’s the Beatles, like it’s a door-buster sale, and dare those party hacks to screw this up again. Use paper ballots, and have them counted by girl scouts and nuns (thank you Jane). When only half the voters have cast their ballots by sundown, occupy them across the nation until all votes are in, and camp there while the nuns and girl scouts tally them. 

This will only be the beginning of the long, hard work ahead. A President Sanders may face a hostile Congress, and certainly a packed Judiciary. We’re going to have to stay awake all the way through this. We’ve never done it before, but it’s possible. You know it is.

Really. This is not somebody else’s problem. Our so-called leaders have lost what minds they may have had. And this time a habitable planet hangs in the balance.

©Copyright 2020 Peter Barus

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