Team Absurdum’s plan to neuter political polarization

carpe absurdum congress

An absurd place where nothing ever happens.

If you are like us, you are equal parts bored, enraged and sickened by political ideologues and extremists. They are literally ruining government, which we suspect might be their goal. One could rightly ask, where have all the moderates gone? Where are those for whom “compromise” is not a word on par with “capitulation” and “cowardice”?

Our system of democracy was crafted assuming its elected officials would in fact compromise on matters of public policy and law so that progress might be meted out in a way that is not too much this or too much that. Particularly within the legislative branch, government works best where a majority of moderates are present. They are the adults in the legislative chamber. They are the ones who can think, take the long view, and are more calm and rational. They are the ones who own up to the reality that you can’t always get what you want, but within the spirit of cooperation and mutual respect, you’ll get what you need. These days there are too few of them to make a difference. They used to represent what is now the neglected middle.

Those who vote don’t seem to want moderates. Reliable voters are mostly comprised of extremists. So, we get what we got. Red states, blue state, and a United States Congress that is incapable of exercising its most basic duties.

What do we do about it, fellow benevolent Machiavellians?

Senator Charles “Chuck” Schumer, in his New York Times opinion piece, End Partisan Primaries, Save America, writes, “The partisan primary system, which favors more ideologically pure candidates, has contributed to the election of more extreme officeholders and increased political polarization. It has become a menace to governing.”

At both the state and federal level we ought to have open primaries. Anyone and everyone can vote, regardless of party affiliation for any candidate in the primaries. The two top vote getters then face off in the general election. As Sen. Chuck points out, “[T]o finish in the top two, candidates from either party would have to reach out to the broad middle.” At least, we believe, there would be an increased incentive to do so.

Only about 20% of Americans bother to vote in the primaries, and they tend to be at the polar ends of the political spectrum. The middle, which is disenchanted and/or uninterested and uninformed, stay home on election day. Let’s do what Australia does. You either vote or are fined. Australia typically has about a 90% turn out, and elects candidates with broad appeal. Only North Korea, at 100%, has a better voter turn out.

Though some states do have open primaries already, we are not anticipating that it will become the national standard anytime soon. Mandatory voting — forget about it. Forced voting would be an infringement on personal freedom, the tinfoil hat brigade would scream, pointing at North Korea.

Those things would require a meeting of the minds to become reality, and for the most part, in this polarized atmosphere, there are simply not that many minds that are capable of meeting.

There is a third way, and we call it the “nuclear option”. Warning! What we are about to suggest may cause gag reflexes to activate and stomachs to lurch.

A fraction of Team Absurdum resides in one of the reddest of all red states. The house of representatives, senate and governor’s office are all occupied by Republicans. Many of them are certifiably extreme in their views and opinions, and the laws they enact reflect that. We predictably elect far-right ideologues to federal seats. If you vote democrat in our fair state, your vote is nothing more than a whimsical supplication that will most definitely go unanswered.

Have you considered changing your party affiliation to republican? We told you that you might hurl your gluten free parfait and kale chips at the thought, but think about it. If there were enough of us left leaning and centrist constituents to make a difference, someone — a republican candidate to be specific — would have to pander to us. We could be a moderating force in an otherwise magenta red political landscape. Some semblance of sanity could be restored to governance. It would serve the greater good.

We can conceive of no other way to more effectively pull our politics from the fringes and towards the pragmatic and sensible middle. It’s what a caring Machiavellian would do.

Worry ye not, though. Come the general election you can vote for the democrat and salvage at least a portion of your dignity.

Video of monkeys getting smashed on cocktails

drunk monkey

Conflicts in the Middle East continue to threaten the price of crude and geo-political stability.

Climate change and its disastrous effects are quickly approaching the tipping point of no return.

North Korea is still a country.

Vladamir Putin is an unrelenting prick.

Waste water injection wells from fracking under the heartland are rattling our windows on a daily basis.

Our government is hopelessly dead-locked in partisan immaturity.

Somewhere an old gray politician is demonstrating an embarrassingly profound misunderstanding of science and how lady parts work.

Medicare and social security recipients want the federal government out of their lives.

The rich are getting richer, and the poor are getting poorer.

In other words, it’s business as usual.

Screw it all. Let’s watch a video of monkeys getting shit-faced, hammered.

The Buddhistic Benevolent Machiavellians of Generation X

hapathy

As of late, we’ve been thinking a lot about our generation. It’s the one that no one really talks about, and marketers haven’t marketed to since that Volkswagen commercial with the youngsters on a moonlight drive in a Cabrio, blissing out to some Nick Drake. It’s the lost generation, begotten by the Silent Generation. It’s the smaller one cramped between the baby boomers and their progeny, GenY.

We are X, and, well, we’ve learned to deal with it. In fact, many of us have learned to live and cope with just about anything, as long as we have a roof over our heads, grub in the fridge, and some decent sex.

As kids, our generation had a front row viewing of some of the most brutal divorces the United States has ever seen. Us latchkey variety of GenX-ers didn’t see a whole lot of our parents on a day-to-day basis. A lot of us raised ourselves. At night, we often dreamt of fiery-orange mushroom clouds and the molten demise of all living things.

We’ve now weathered two recessions — the first one being when most of us got out of college. Talk about crappy timing. And the other came just as some of us were trying to shift into third gear, were putting down the ink on adjustable rate mortgages, and raising young families. That is what you call, real shitty timing.

But, if all this didn’t brake us, it turned us into monks donning t-shirts and jeans. Life sandwiched between the baby boomers and GenY, in all its narcissistic absurdity, has been our monastery, and we have been forged into modern day Buddhists.

As the GenX writer, Whitney Collins says in her essay, The Zen of Gen X, “We accept impermanence.”

“Is ‘hapathy’ a word?” Whitney asks. “I don’t know. I just think the overarching theme for Gen Xers is one of happy apathy. The whole Buddhist approach to living teaches non-attachment, in that ‘attachment is the origin, the root of suffering; hence it is the cause of suffering.'”

Will we ever get our shot at running the world?

Sara Scribner, writing for Salon, said:

If we’re going to make the country a better place, more suited to our values, we [GenX] need to do it ourselves. Middle age is, if nothing else, time to shift out of second gear. If we can’t take a break from the urban farms, put down the knitting and home brewing equipment, and step into politics, business and other kinds of leadership, we’ll deserve our reputation as the generation that never quite showed up. Rather than the sound of silence, we should be hearing our voices – and they should be loud and angry.

Loud and angry? While we appreciate the sentiment, we’ll leave that to the baby boomers who perch in front of their TV’s poisoning their minds with hyperbolic 24/7 infotainment disguised as news. There is too much loud and angry choking the atmosphere already.

What’s the alternative? To become benevolent Machiavellians.

Let GenY-ers think they are special. Foster it, even, because they are. Collectively, they are more caring and compassionate about our little blue planet and all things under its skies than any other generation to come along yet.

GenY is going to have the heavy burden of fixing everything the boomers, and the age of modernity have fouled up. GenY is the paradigm shift the world has been waiting for, and urgently needs. Be patient, though, we should say to them. Give it ten years, and you guys will be in complete control. Have fun. Give it grit. Fight the good fight. Get out there and get it done — we’re right behind you. Seize your destiny, damn it! Trophies for everyone!

But, learn to relax, they should be counseled. Get eight hours of sleep per night, and meditate in one form or another. You must tend to the inner to make the outer better.

What we don’t need to tell them is that heavy is the head that wears the crown. Life will box them around, and on an individual basis, brake them or make them wise. Eventually, they will create some novel problems that the same sort of thinking can never fix, and another generation will come sweeping up behind them to sop up their mess.

And we, X, will sit by, smiling, watching life’s rich, multi-generational pageant, doing some heavy, far out meta-analysis, singing, “It’s the end of the world as we know it — and I feel fine.”

Of dentists and alien abductions

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Countless, painful memories of visits to the dentist are lodged in the collective memory of Team Absurdum. Cavities, fillings, root canals, caps, extractions, braces, head gear, drills, the smell of tooth dust, and all sorts of sharp, pointy metal instruments pricking … Continue reading

Exclusive interview with Jurgen Klinsmann, head coach of the US soccer team

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After many sniveling and whiny pleas, Jurgen Klinsmann, the man at the helm of the U.S. men’s national soccer team, relented and agreed to sit down with Carpe Absurdum for an exclusive interview. “Okie-dokie,” said Jurgen in a thick German … Continue reading

The Oklahoma Zombie Law — “Muuuuuust have death certificate”

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For as long as there have been legislative bodies, there have been stupid laws being flung out of them. Here are a few classics created in the great state of Oklahoma. Cars must be tethered outside public buildings. Of course. Who … Continue reading