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19 Things I Learned in 2019 - Page 2

As I mentioned in the previous page, these next few entries are about politics. I've been more politically disconnected than usual during the Trump era, mostly out of sheer disappointment that, even when faced with a choice between the two worst presidential candidates this country has ever seen, the people still refused to consider a third option. I'm not going to pretend that Gary Johnson was a particularly good presidential candidate, but c'mon. Just when I started to believe in "the Libertarian moment," the American people decided to make a choice between two divisive authoritarian mudslingers more concerned with political power than in preserving liberty. My disillusionment continues into 2019, with both sides of the aisle utterly lost in the madness that is Trumpism versus anti-Trumpism and nobody talking about how to fix what is truly broken in this country, namely the exponential growth of demagoguery, bad faith, confirmation bias, and polarization. I know it sounds terribly dour, but at the end of the day, I find it easier to believe in hope by turning away from the circus, which I once again encourage all of my readers to do.


#8. Outrage Trumps Solutions
Greta Thunberg
#8. Outrage Trumps Solutions
Greta Thunberg

Greta Thunberg was Time's Person of the Year for 2019, and you know what? She's absolutely an avatar for our age: a young person filled with outrage who is more interested in shaming us with her smug superiority than in offering any kind of valuable insight or workable solutions (aside from sacrificing more economy to the government as though that will actually do anything). We have far better young environmental activists out there--just Google Boyan Slat, for example--but in 2019, people don't actually care about coming up with ways to solve problems and address climate change in any meaningful way. People only seem to care about the outrage, about the sense that our prefered political argument proves that we are smarter than everybody else, that the level of our fury is a meaningful measure of our virtue. It's not, of course, but that's what most of us seem to believe.


#9. A Presidential Impeachment Can Be Boring
Impeachment
#9. A Presidential Impeachment Can Be Boring
Impeachment

Speaking of outrage, did you watch any of the televised impeachment hearings? Boy, what an exciting bit of drama, huh? Or it would have been, had we not all been given spoilers a couple of years ago when all the Democrats vowed to do it no matter what, or had we not all seen the catastrophically uneventful finale of the two-year Russian collusion narrative. I mean, look, our president is an awful human being and all evidence seems to point to his being an incompetent boob who's engaged in some arguably unethical behavior in service to conspiracy theories that wilt in the light of day. That said, the Democrats aren't impeaching him for any specific offense--no matter what they tell you--nor are they treating it with any kind of seriousness or sobriety. They aren't trying to convince anyone of anything; they're merely trying to appease a base that is baying for blood. Was the Ukraine call wholly above board and "perfect" as the president and his defenders claim? Of course not. Does it rise to the level of impeachment? Only if you already wanted him impeached long before you ever heard about it. This is only the third time the House has voted to impeach a sitting president, and yet, it's already become mind-numbingly stale by the fetid air of naked partisanship. As with the Thunberg speech, political temper tantrums with no foreseeable endgame aren't interesting; they are wastes of time.


#10. Outrage Can Be Stupid
Betsy Ross Shoe
#10. Outrage Can Be Stupid
Betsy Ross Shoe

While we're still talking about outrage (and really, there seems to be little difference between politics and outrage these days), do you remember where you stood on the most divisive issue of the summer of 2019? I'm talking, of course, about a shoe. Nike unveiled a shoe in time for the fourth of July that featured the iconic Betsy Ross flag. Disgraced NFL quarterback and known political bomb-thrower Colin Kaepernick complained to Nike that the shoe promotes racism. Nike agreed to not mass produce the shoe. People were outraged that a relatively benign symbol of the independence was being censored by a shoe company, and they began burning other Nike products in protest. People were then outraged that people were outraged. Think pieces were blasted from every news outlet. Arguments plagued social media for days. People were called racists. Other people were called idiots. Colin Kaepernick calmly cashed his checks from Nike like the good little capitalist he is. God, that was a stupid chapter of American history.


#11. Good News Is Bad for Partisans
The Mueller Report
#11. Good News Is Bad for Partisans
The Mueller Report

When the Mueller Report was released and demonstrated that there was no evidence that the president of our country was colluding with a foreign power to subvert the electoral process and damage our nation, you'd think it was a tragedy if you turned on cable news or read a mainstream newspaper. People were so invested in believing the worst--that Russia had sabotaged America's most sacred institution in the democratic election--that they actually mourned news that this wasn't true. On the other side of the aisle, you had people smugly gloating in the most disgraceful and classless manner, all but blind to the negative things the report has to say about President Trump (which are legion, just nowhere near the level of Russian collusion). This, ultimately, wound up increasing partisan polarization and dividing our nation further, setting the stage for the impeachment circus to come. That, by itself, played more into Russian interests than Trump ever could have.


#12. I'd Still Rather Trump Be Removed
President Trump
#12. I'd Still Rather Trump Be Removed
President Trump

I think Democratic lawmakers are acting like whiney children who aren't interested in actually governing. I think the impeachment circus has been a partisan circle jerk encouraged by an unashamedly biased fourth estate. All that said, I still think a Trump impeachment and removal--on legitimate grounds--would be good for the nation in the long run. By policy results, Trump isn't a horrible president, even though, as a human being, he is by all outward appearances a very poor example of what our maker intended for us. However, for those of us, like me, who consider themselves conservative in a classically liberal sense, he has pushed the Republican party further from where we should want it. It's now dominated by a strain of populism that is as unconcerned with deepening polarization as it is with unfathomable new levels of deficit spending and big government excess. Sure, he's rolled back the regulatory state a little bit and overseen the biggest explosion of originalist judges at the federal level in recent memory, but on the whole, Trump has increased executive power beyond the dangerously high levels of the last two presidents. I'd hope the party that was so worried about such things just four years ago would stand up to Trump, but partisan loyalty is more powerful than principle, apparently. A Trump impeachment might actually teach the Republicans a tough lesson and push the party back in a more libertarian direction. Of course, that's a consequentialist argument, and I do acknowledge that such an impeachment would be a deliberate subversion of the American electoral process. Ultimately, like the whiney Democrats in the House, I guess I just wish the American people would vote differently than they do, and that's the reason why, when I am really honest with myself, I still want Trump gone.


#13. America Became Oil-Independent, and No One Noticed
Oil graph
#13. America Became Oil-Independent, and No One Noticed
Oil graph

Did you know that, in 2019, the USA exported more oil than it imported? You'd think that would be a big deal worthy of headlines and punditry, given how much our dependence on foreign oil has been a political talking point for both sides of the aisle for decades. But with all the outrage being thrown around by the cable news outlets fighting for viewers and the newspapers trolling for clicks, there's no time for such mundane good news. This is why I have little patience for people who talk about gloom and doom and how the human race is falling apart while the world burns; if you look at the actual data, we--meaning all of humanity on Planet Earth--are more prosperous this year than we were last year, but we seem intent on focusing on the bad instead of celebrating the good, leading many to believe that the good simply doesn't exist. Our toxic political climate certainly doesn't help.

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-e. magill 1/2/2020


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John Burrill
Warren Davis

Become a Patron today!
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SPECIAL THANKS TO MY PATRONS:
Diane Magill-Davis
John Burrill
Warren Davis

Become a Patron today!
patreon.com/emagill


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