Pur Autre Vie

I'm not wrong, I'm just an asshole

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

We Don't Have Victories Anymore

The Republican presidential primary is now a two-man race.  Donald Trump is squaring off against John Kasich for the party's nod.  Let's take a moment to note how impressive it is that John Kasich, who was written off by so many pundits, is going to either be the nominee, or is going to come in second.  Who could have predicted it?

I hope my sarcasm is obvious.  John Kasich is #2 solely because he is divorced from reality and any shred of responsibility, not because of any political accomplishment.  His actual performance has been pathetic and his insistence on staying in the race is insanely self-indulgent.  (He is also probably still behind Rubio in total vote count, although I am far too lazy to confirm this.)

But this is the thing about the world we live in...  it seems as though no one ever has to concede defeat.  Should Scotland secede from the United Kingdom?  The Scottish people voted to stay in by a large margin (over 10%).  But the Scottish National Party stuck around and looks very likely (to my eyes) both to destroy the Labour Party and to achieve its goal of independence for Scotland.  Votes don't count for anything, it would seem.

Issues on which the evidence is overwhelming are still "up for debate"—Trump insists that global warming is a hoax.  Trump is Trump, but I'm pretty sure he's quoting Republican doctrine.  Obamacare has survived ferocious attacks, but unless the Democrats retake Congress, even uncontroversial tweaks to improve it are off the table because Republicans insist that it must be repealed.

Nothing is ever settled anymore.

Maybe it has always been this way.  But it doesn't feel that way...  Quebec had a vote on whether to secede, and it was far closer than the Scottish vote (the margin for remaining in Canada was barely 1%)...  and then everyone went home and treated the issue as settled.  (Not literally everyone, but I'm not asking for literal unanimity, just a workable consensus.)  The hole in the ozone layer was debated, then widely acknowledged as a real problem, and then we took significant steps to address it.

Now I realize a lot of this is just politics.  But I feel there are norms that require people to acknowledge when they have lost.  This is sometimes a formal rule, but often it's a norm of decency, and it's one that seems to be slipping away.  This doesn't apply to certain issues, obviously—no one should pretend the law on transgender rights in North Carolina is "settled" just because of a temporary legislative victory.  But on the other hand, there has to be some acknowledgement when someone has lost, or when some theory has received overwhelming empirical support...

I don't know, I'm writing this out in stunned terror as I contemplate the possibility of a Trump presidency.  I'll be spending the months between now and November doing what I can to make sure that doesn't happen.  That vote, at least, is final by the force of law.


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