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Thoughts for 2019

As  2019 begins, I face it with both hope and trepidation. I’m just an ordinary citizen, in charge of nothing, except through my vote in electing my political representatives. That vote is powerful, as we found out in the 2018 elections and as I personally found out when the Democratic congressional candidate for whom I made phone calls and knocked on doors beat a 30-year right wing Republican incumbent in one of the most traditionally Republican districts in the country. And the same thing happened in a lot of places. That’s one of my sources of hope. Another is the gradual acceptance of more progressive views within the mainstream Democratic Party, although their competition from voices of caution and moderation may quiet them or throw the party into destructive division. In my own neighborhood of Orange County, California, Asian and Latino young voters made themselves heard as they voted in larger numbers (still not large enough) than in the past, and supported liberal and progressive candidates. 

The trepidation comes from many sources: climate change and U.S. foreign policy are two areas where we find ourselves, as a nation, heading down fruitless and destructive paths. Closer to home, watching all the promising, eager young people around me facing bleak futures in terms of affording a place to live, while those with more meager means join the legions of homeless wandering our urban streets, worries me. I see little avenues for progress in terms of housing our citizens, at least in our major urban centers, particularly on the two coasts. Those who already have housing, don’t want to build more of it—it congests their streets and ruins their views and their skyline. Politicians, even liberal ones, are generally afraid to challenge property owners who support low-growth restrictions on building. We advertise our progressive views by calling our cities “sanctuaries,” but there is no place but the streets or a property owner’s garage for those who make low salaries, are service industry workers who provide the luxuries for the rest of us, but can’t make ends meet.

The nation seems to be accepting the reality of man-made climate change, but our elected leaders and government agencies are moving backwards to fight it. A minority of the population fights against accepting the reality doing nonsensical things such as blocking access to charging stations for electric cars and accusing the scientific world of being engaged in a conspiracy, while fighting or resurrecting a coal industry that can’t sustain itself economically. The world in general is moving too slowly to stop the oceans from rising, the temperatures from warming, and the weather from worsening and courting the population shift disasters that will ensue from these things. Even cognizant Americans continue to buy gas guzzling SUVs and pickup trucks, while our government lowers mileage standards for our vehicles.

Our foreign policy is in chaos, although to be truthful, it has been unfocused or disastrous for decades, and other than being disorganized, today’s foreign policy is no worse than yesterdays. None of us, including our government has a good idea of what we are doing in either Afghanistan or Syria. The critical voices of our policies are as often hawks who want to fight Russia or Iran wherever they have influence, regardless of the likelihood of winning anything as they are doves who want us to quit fighting on the side of those who are as bad as our enemies and to quit supplying support and munitions to those that wantonly kill civilians. Nobody has a vision of what our world position ought to be. This same confusion extends to our economic and diplomatic positions. The only voices that achieve coherence, even if not being sensible, are those who favor isolationism or those who seem to want global business to determine what’s good for the world. Even progressive politicians, for all their criticism of our current policies offer no reasonable vision of how we ought to be fitting into, much less leading, the world. 

2019 promises to a tumultuous year on the political front with a divided congress and both sides eager to stick it to the other and no one thinking of the long-term good of the country. It marks the beginning of the political season for the 2020 elections, and both individuals and groups will be stepping forward to present their cases. I am trepidatious, but hopeful that some of them will think critically and put the real problems we face ahead of their zeal to capture a headline or damage their opponents. 

We’ll see. In the meantime, I’m hoping for good and improved health for myself and my family and friends, no financial worries, great jobs for my young relatives, and happiness for all.

Reader Comments (3)

Happy New Year to you and yours, Casey! And let us begin it in hope, although of course we both have lived long enough know better.

January 1, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAnca Vlasopolos

I’m always surprised when racist demographics are used to make an allegedly “progressive” point. I suppose you’ve inured yourself to the callous hypocrisy in identifying voters by singular and insignificant immutable characteristics. We’re all just individuals and membership in any collective is either happenstance or irrelevant.

Progressive ideas tend to be heartfelt and hopeful, whereas progressive policies tend to be naive and non-viable. So, as helpful as liberals and progressives want to be, their policies advocating for equal outcomes will inevitably cause a surfeit of misery as did their historical antecedents. Only by tempering these extravagant policies through the lens of conservatism will they become functional and sustainable.

As for climate change, I’ll say it again. Climate change has always been good for humanity and bad for some humans. If the climate doomsayers are right, then an inevitable culling is at hand. As always, we humans will have to be clever and resourceful to best survive. Historical bottlenecks have occurred on a number of occasions. There’s no reason to suspect we won’t have the ability to survive another one.

I pray the new year brings you, your family and friends all that you hope.

January 1, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMark Wheeler

Casey, Long on well known Generalizations - Short on specifics
Let's try what some might be:
Washington State is thinking of going back to requiring a civics course for high school students.
Plastics problem - how can you personally use less plastic and can you find a way to better
fund efforts to lasso in some of these plastic dumps in the oceans.
Nuclear Treaties - These are important. Putin seems to realize this although the U.S. doesn't seem to.

January 1, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterNancy Roeder

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