Kindness, calmness and electoral politics back home in America

Thai culture and Buddhist values elevate the qualities of kindness and calmness and decency.

Thai people respect Americans, and so our Thai friends wonder how it is that America could’ve put such a nasty, unqualified, indecent person in the USA’s highest office.

After experimenting with several explanations, I’ve settled on this one.

Electoral politics in a democracy is supposed to work because free competition in the marketplace of ideas allows people with the best vision of the future to prevail. 

In America in 2016, a significant chunk of voters (3 million shy of a majority … try explaining that!) was bamboozled by simplistic messages carefully tuned to coalesce the fears and resentments of the underclass. The marketplace of ideas did offer an alternative: a bunch of layered and nuanced ideas carefully articulated by good progressives … often sniping at and tearing-down each other. 

Modern ears are tuned to hear sound bites, not nuanced explanation. Attention spans are stunted, a phenomenon related to over-reliance on electronic devices. Steadily, these influences have perverted the marketplace of ideas. Nuanced thinking is not rewarded. Impulsive blurting (and tweeting) is more effective in the short term than are contemplation and consideration.

This degradation happened in an environment controlled by dark money from the billionaire class, thanks to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United. And when the Special Counsel reports on his investigation, we’ll learn the extent to which Russians worked to tip the scales in favor of the candidate most likely to destroy American moral leadership in the world.

So, Thai friends, your country has survived for 800 years, dodging greedy colonists and struggling through a variety of coups and chaos across the centuries. Americans aspire to such longevity. Trump will be impeached or otherwise lawfully removed and America’s paramilitarized right wing will react with violence. The gun nuts will square-off against national guard units commanded by a patchwork of state governors with varying agendas, and federal troops will be directed by whoever’s in control in Washington. It’ll be a mess. 

We may need your help. 

Please share with your friends!

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