Loyalties are odd. Often, you’re loyal to something for no concrete or logical reason. You’re either a Bud or a Coors guy. They’re both rancid gutter water, but probably your dad drank one or the other, so that’s what you did as an impressionable youth. Coke or Pepsi. Ford vs. GM. I grew up as a Denver Broncos fan. I didn’t live in Colorado or anywhere nearby. So why the Broncos? As a kid my favorite soft drink was Orange Crush. The late 70’s Bronco defensive line was called the Orange Crush. Good enough for me. I followed Denver into adulthood.
Politics are much the same. I’d wager that the vast majority of people pick a party because that’s what their parents were. They then vote party line for their entire lives. If they become disillusioned enough, they tend not to vote, or vote rarely. I’m too lazy to look it up, but I’d be willing to bet it’s a pretty small percentage of folks that actually switch parties or vote back and forth depending upon the politician. People are creatures of habit and it’s uncomfortable to make changes. You’ll find a way to justify and cling to your beliefs no matter what. It’s like religion. Virtually nobody switches religions. The idea of abandoning your Catholicism for the teachings of Budha are inconceivable, no matter how disillusioned you may become. Worse case, you’ll just abandon religion altogether rather than switch.
And why don’t people switch teams? Because once you get beyond the initial infatuation/honeymoon period, you realize that the same crap that turned you off from your original team is rampant in the new team. Politics, religion, corporations, the deep state, the military industrial complex… all suffer from the same institutional inbreeding. Once entities reach a certain size and inertia, gravity pulls them to the same center regardless of where they started from.
Oh, they can put up fancy new window dressings and run expensive ad campaigns, but at the end of the day, if you strip away the fluff at the outer edges… the core is the same. Team Red controlled all three branches of government when Trump took office. The trifecta. And they spent more in those two years than the previous four under Obama. And that was pre-pandemic. Do you really think Team Red is suddenly going to see the light and become fiscally responsible when they take back the reins in ’24? If so, I have some NFT’s I’d like to sell you. Payment in Dogecoin only, please.
But wait, you say. We’re bringing back the bad orange man. MAGA time, baby! He’s going to kick some butt this time around. Our obsession with the office of the President is odd. Personally, I think it’s the bright shiny object intended to keep you distracted. The president cannot create budgets. They can’t cut budgets. They have the power to rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic, but that’s it. They can attempt to rule via executive order, but every single EO will be challenged in court and, worse case, overturned by the next administration. The president has the power of the bully pulpit, and that’s about it. That can be powerful for sure, depending upon the speaker, but it’s not going to fundamentally alter the structure of the institutions.
The real power is congress. And the same power players on both teams just keep getting re-elected year, after year, after year, after year. I’d be willing to bet 80% (if not more) of the population couldn’t name their two senators and representative. And THAT’S who’s actually making the decisions that impact your life. My representative has been in office since 1999. 23 years and I guarantee you’ve never heard of him.
My point? I’m not sure, I’ve forgotten by now. Oh, wait I remember. I read a substack article from someone way smarter than me, and he had a great quote:
Perhaps if when next you vote, you think not about left or right, about us or them, about the lesser evil vs the greater, but rather about “which of these people is most likely to take power way from government and defend the rights of the people”
Because at this point it’s become about authoritarianism vs liberty, not Red vs Blue. If your representatives haven’t done anything meaningful and demonstratable to reduce government, rein in the institutions, or protect your rights as a citizen… get rid of them. Vote the bums out. It’s time to keep shuffling the deck until we get something better. Even if you vote the same team, put someone new in. Stop the blind allegiance to a specific office holder just because. Trust me, there’s nothing special about them other than their ability to raise money. At this point, the best thing we could do for this country would be to randomly pull 535 people from the phone book and put them in office. Whoo boy, that would put the fear of God into the deep state!
I understand the Church of Contrarianism takes a bit to get used to. It’s hard to give up the dogma you’ve lived with for all of your adult life. The status quo is comfortable. I liken it to my separation from the NFL. Like any red-blooded American boy, I grew up with the NFL. Sundays were for football. I played Pop Warner and high school ball. And I had my team. And then in the late ’90’s there was a big free agency court ruling. And suddenly players who’d played on your team forever, left. That hurt. It wasn’t quite the same anymore.
And then, I discovered fantasy football. All of a sudden, I no longer cared about teams… I cared about individual players. That broke the hold Sunday games had on me. The player stats on Monday were much more interesting than an individual game. And slowly the fantasy leagues lost their attraction (mostly because I was really bad at it). I’d watch a few NFL game from time to time, but it was fewer and fewer every year. This year marks the second full year I haven’t watched a single game. And I don’t miss it.
It hurts a little bit to give up your blind allegiance to Team Red or Team Blue. But once you embrace the fact that the game is rigged… you’ll be happier.