Steve McEllistrem

The Devereaux Dilemma

Election Season

The election is almost upon us, and I have to say I don’t know for certain which candidate would best serve our country in the long run. One supports the status quo, the continuation of the policies of the past several decades, which have led us to this particular point in time.

The other is a bizarre outsider who talks about making America great again but offers essentially zero in the way of specifics. He might do anything once elected. He is a self-absorbed, bullying misogynist.

Logic would dictate that I should vote for the status quo because the outsider might do something crazy (probably will do something crazy) that will have horrendous consequences for the country and possibly the world.

Those who are doing well (and even some who are not) insist we need to vote for the status quo, especially since she’s also the first woman to head a major party. They believe she will keep us on the right path to success – and they’re correct. She’ll keep us on the path that allowed those very successful people to be successful, continuing the policies that benefit them.

We might benefit tangentially, but I’m not certain we will be the people she’s primarily concerned with helping.

On the other hand, many of those who are struggling, who remember the past fondly, even if it wasn’t as good as their memories would have them believe, think that if we vote for the new guy, he’ll somehow bring us back to the days when we were the undisputed heavyweight champions of the world.

They look at the status quo and see a rigged game designed to help the few at the expense of the many. Yes, we’re generally all doing better than we were fifty years ago, but a select few of us are doing way, way, way better while the rest of us are doing only slightly better.

Of course, the reality is that the outsider is a blusterer who likely can’t deliver anything he promises. But is that a bad thing? Maybe what we need long-term is total dysfunction, a complete breakdown like a great depression to prod us to action.

The great recession didn’t do it. The Occupy Wall Street protests died. The Black Lives Matter movement may have staying power but we don’t know. It seems to have reached its peak and begun to decline. And its message, while powerful, does not yet speak directly to issues of economic inequality.

So perhaps things need to get worse before they can get better. I’m not advocating that. I’m just wondering if we can lift ourselves up without first reaching rock bottom. Our collective human history suggests that we do better when the adversity is greater – and perhaps the adversity we face isn’t great enough yet.

But one thing is certain. Regardless of who wins, the status quo isn’t going to cut it much longer. People are getting fed up with the way the oligarchs who run this country have sabotaged the ladder of upward mobility, reaping for themselves the fruits of our labor, patting themselves on the back for thinking up new ways to enrich themselves at the expense of the rest of us.

Some day, a revolution is gonna come. And it’s gonna be ugly.

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