A political op-ed

The great poet W.B. Yeats once wrote “The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.” While ruminating on the Nation’s current political climate on the eve on the 2016 Presidential election, these words echoed in my head. Though Yeats wrote that line nearly a century ago, I cannot help but clearly see his poetic allegory flawlessly illustrated in the current election and the anti-establishment campaigns leading the polls.

The anti-establishment ­­­platforms candidates like Trump, Cruz, and Sanders are fiercely promoting have generated enormous support in both parties. However, like Yeats said, many of their most ardent supporters who wave their flags with glee and cheer enthusiastically every time their candidate says “We’re going to blow up Washington” don’t have a clue about the myriad of substantive issues on which an actual President has to lead. The polls tell us that the craziest policies and platforms are bringing in the voters. While the phenomenon of the loudest guy in the room also being the dumbest (if they don’t have to be PC, why do I) isn’t limited to this election, it has gone from a minor nuisance to threatening our democracy.

On both sides of the aisle, the race away from the moderate-center has revealed an enthusiasm within the electorate for dangerous and bizarre policies; many of which would tank the economy, isolate the U.S. internationally, bankrupt the budget, and possibly expose the nation’s leaders to war crimes violations (if you believe Trump’s son, Eric, that water boarding is like hazing). Going back to Yeats, this political climate is indicative of “the worst” being full of intensity, while the moderates stay quietly on the sidelines. The moderates are the voters who understand that you can’t carpet bomb the Middle East into blissful democracy, deport millions of families currently residing in this country for both economic and humanitarian reasons, or create a (democratic) socialist government with unlimited social services for all, without bankrupting our already terribly indebted nation. So where are all the moderates? Well, they appear to be apathetic, or as Yeats said “They lack all conviction.”

What this election is showing about the American electorate, or at least the portion which is engaged and active, is that many voters are extremely ignorant of basic governance, economics, and policy. The polls also reiterate what we already know, that reasonable people tend keep their mouths shut, and either do not have a candidate to root for or they wouldn’t come out to campaign events even if they did. So who or what is to blame for this shameful state of our electorate? Some have blamed the unlimited dark money that poured into politics following Citizens United is much at fault. However, we as Americans can’t blame everything on the wealthy political donors, because if the general electorate was better informed and educated on the policies that comprise a presidential platform, they wouldn’t be so susceptible to the inflaming Ads paid for by rich guys.

So what can we do to prove Yeats wrong, and make the “best,” as he called them, visible in this election? It’s simple; you and all other reasonable moderates must CARE! Care about the process, the candidates, the issues, and get informed. In the information age, it seems preposterous that the one thing lacking in our electoral process is an informed electorate. At a time when yottabytes of information are a click away from almost every voter, it is simply wrong, even negligent, not to be knowledgeable. If the American electorate can get off its proverbial ass and get in the game, it can overcome all the attack ads, radio commercials, and shadow donations big money donors can make. So I beg you, for the sake of the American democracy that so many thousands of men and women have died to protect, get out there and give a damn!

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of any agency of the U.S. government. 

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Alexander Balkin


San Diego, CA

Alexander S. Balkin is an attorney living and working in San Diego California. He is a former analyst at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Chief Financial Officers Council Finance Fellow. His hobbies include books, books, and more books with equal amounts of golf. The views expressed are his own and do not represent the position of any government agency.

All posts by Alexander Balkin

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