Where Are You On The Handling Complexity Scale?

by James Wallace Harris, Monday, January 6, 2020

I like to think our minds are like the mixing boards you see in recording studios, with dozens of sliders, each for a different cognitive ability. Think of the autism spectrum as one slider, and artistic ability, spatial perception, and mathematics as other sliders. I’m not sure how many mental spectrums exist, but I’ve been thinking about a possible spectrum to consider – handling complexity.

It’s obvious some people handle complexity better than others. People who can’t handle complexity want everything to be black and white. To them, everything is binary – for/against, male/female, good/evil, theism/atheism, rich/poor and so on. These people seem to have made up their minds early in life and will defend their beliefs with great tenacity. It’s easier for them to build an array of defense mechanisms than it is to deal with complexity. Successful people handle complexity and thrive. However, if you can’t handle complexity can you recognize people who can?

Ever since Donald Trump was elected I’ve been trying to understand why people like him. My current theory is neither Trump nor his follows can handle complexity. Trump’s simplex approach to problems resonates with their own simplex relationship with reality, and they find that comforting.

Republicans have taken an ostrich’s head-in-the-sand, ass-in-the-air approach to complexity. Denying complexity is their great survival mechanism. However, to solve the world’s problem involves dealing with complexity. We need leaders who place high on the handling complexity scale.

Trump is low on the scale, seeing reality in terms of black and white. People like voting for candidates like themselves. We need to vote for people who are higher on the handling complexity scale than ourselves. But how do we pick people who have cognitive skills we can’t imagine? How do we pick a person whose solutions might not make sense to us?

One way is to judge how they’ve handled complexity in the past. Trump has zero political, diplomatic, or leadership skills. His businesses have very few employees. He has no handling of complexity skills at all. Millions of people voted for him because he handles complexity in the same way they do – which is at a simple gut-level.

Most people see the world with a binary vision. Most voters see the political spectrum as left and right. That’s incredibly simple-minded. Just seeing the world in a grayscale of 16 adds great complexity, but it’s still extremely low on the complexity scale. Remember when computers only had 16 colors and how bad computer games looked? At the time we thought it an amazing step up from black and white (or black and green) monitors. Then when graphic cards went to 256 colors images started to look somewhat realistic. It wasn’t until graphics cards could handle millions of colors did photographs begin to look realistic. (The above graphic is CGA, EGA, and VGA.)

People have an extremely difficult time juggling 16 variables. We embrace ideas like the Myers-Briggs scale, trying to pigeonhole people into 16 types. The Myers-Briggs scale has its appeal because it vaguely works — but does it really?

Take climate change. Its complexity is immense. Even computer models that track millions of variables can only paint a rough picture of what is happening. Simplex people prefer accepting a blowhard’s opinion on climate change who has no understanding of the complexity of climate change over scientists with supercomputers and billions of dollars worth of scientific measuring devices. Why? Because binary thinkers prefer binary solutions.

We can’t solve complex problems with binary solutions. We need an army of PhDs who have armies of supercomputers working with artificial intelligence to even begin to understand climate change. Why don’t we require such expertise from our politicians? Isn’t our country’s social/economic/political structure nearly as complex as the weather? Why don’t we expect all politicians to have PhDs in political science? Why shouldn’t the highest political jobs require the greatest political experience? Shouldn’t a president at least have the experience being a governor or senator, if not a whole lot more?

How can we possibly expect a person with no experience to succeed at a job that requires the most experience? How can we expect a person who has no ability to handle complexity to succeed in a job that requires the most understanding of complexity?

Only a simplex person would vote for another simplex person.

Think of it this way. Say you’re a betting person and want to win some money on a football game. There are two teams. One team consists of professional football players, and the other team is made up of regular guys who believe they can play football. Who’re you going to put your money on? Or imagine you need brain surgery. Who will you pick? The surgeon with the most experience, or some egotistic guy who thinks anyone can do brain surgery?

JWH

17 thoughts on “Where Are You On The Handling Complexity Scale?”

  1. Hey, James…
    I just read your post and…I can’t stop laughing. And I am not laughing at the content but rather have this vision of you sitting there, and thinking, “Mmm. What can I write that will simply piss of a whole bunch of people? Muhahaha. I got it!”
    And you started typing.
    As always, from the bottom of the rabbit hole, James, you have a good day.

    1. Randy, I don’t want to piss people off. I want my fellow citizens to pick a president that can save us from ourselves. I don’t manage complexity all that well myself, and as I age, what ability I do have dwindles.

    1. I’m pretty sure the Iranians already know they are dealing with a crazy man. We’ve back them into a corner which will make them act crazy too. All us little folks have to bystanders while insanity takes over. Some times I feel I should stop caring, stop trying, and just go read a lot of science fiction until my body plays out.

  2. Trump is a populist, the product of failure in political leadership on both sides of the aisle. The electorate was fed up with the establishment and the politics of same ole same ole and Trump is the result. What did the bible say “Ye will reap what ye sow” I’m no authority on scripture however this particular saying seems to ring true.

    In terms of complexity, the administration was in over its head from the get-go. Not from the lack of talent and experience to draw from, but just as you stated, the inexperience and the inability of Trump to provide leadership and guidance. These last 3 years have been one slip after another some worse than others.

    In short, not suited or fit for the job.

    The real issue is not Trump. He is …who he is… like …we are all who we are…

    The real problem is that populists who believe they owe nothing to anyone but themselves are downright dangerous to the political system. Other elected Representatives will hook their wagon to a leader when they have everything to lose by rejecting the group think. (political expediency) This type of behavior that causes individuals to subordinate their individual moral sense to match with the herd is well documented in neurological science. It’s part of our heritage as a social animal. It’s the old ‘Good Emperor, Bad Emperor’ syndrome. We got a bad Emperor!

    For me it’s the unpredictability of his impetuous nature. The current crisis with Iran is yet another example of incompetence. This administration can’t even get the little things right let alone have any grasp over the more complex issues.

    There is no expectation that this situation will improve until he loses in November (He said hopefully)
    This particular president should be a lesson to us all. The only way to prevent this from happening is to require vetting of any potential candidate for the general election by the political party they are running for.

    If a candidate wants to run as an independent they can do so. At least if the independent happens to be a populist and wins the election they will not be able to hold any particular political party hostage.

  3. The comments have been interesting to read. My thinking went in a somewhat different direction. I think you could also apply Jim’s argument to Christians and their relationship to the Bible. Some people read it literally. Using quotes to argue for a smaller world with less diversity. Other Christians read the Bible and find stories about complexity in life, the potential of humanity, the need for activism and, dare I get hokey, ways to sustain hope and spread love.

    1. I thought about that too and had mentioned it, but I deleted that section. I was afraid I’d be too offensive. I believe handling complexity spectrum applies in all kinds of situations. Just look at the plots of TVs and movies. The shows with complex plots are less popular than those with less complexity. And it’s not a matter of intelligence. Some people want to keep things simple and depend on intuition.

  4. Jim:

    Most excellent essay with many excellent points. Trump being totally incompetent and inexperienced for the job is apparent. The scary thing is all the people who thought he was. How can so many people be wrong? Your main point, I think, at least in my reading, is that Trump’s voters have the same problem he has, black and white thinking, and no ability to deal with and appreciate complexity.

    The person above who mentioned that there is problem with the parties vetting process in selecting candidates is on to something and there is a good article in the December, 2019 issue of the Atlantic by Jonathan Rauch and Ray La Raja entitled “T00 Much Democracy Is Bad For Democracy. https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2019/12/too-much-democracy-is-bad-for-democracy/600766/

    Thanks again for a wonderful piece of work.

    David Markham

    1. Part of the problem is we vote for people we like, and that’s not a good measure of experience and skill. I believe political jobs should have minimum job qualifications.

      Actually, I’m for maximizing democracy. I want everyone to vote, but I want to change the definition of a winning majority. 50% is a simple majority. I think elections and passing laws should require a 66-75% majority. That would force us to compromise. Society would be happier and more successful if fewer people were dissatisfied with the results of politics. Polarized politics is killing us.

      I also think we should encourage more studies in civics and let kids vote at 13, but not count their votes until they are 18. They need to get involved sooner and get the practice, plus we’d know what the coming generation thinks.

      1. Aside from the lack of a vetting process that strikes a balance between smoked filled rooms of party insiders and the free for all that exists now is ‘part 2’ of the challenge; the 2 party system. The party with a majority in either the House or the Senate has no incentive to compromise.

        James, your suggestion to up the majority is one way, however as an alternative, I think it’s time to introduce a 3rd official party whereby, in theory anyway, elected members in total have a greater incentive to compromise as there is a lessor opportunity for one party to exercise a simple majority. Of course if the majority of one party is greater than the other 2 combined, then all bets are off. That said the odds are still greater in passing legislation that serves the needs of a larger cross section of the electorate than under the current setup.

        Here’s an interesting perspective https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/10/19/us-democracy-two-party-system-replace-multiparty-republican-democrat/

      2. The point about a third party is a good one but they have never been successful. However, the “blanks” of which I am one have a huge influence on elections. The media calls them “independents” not to be confused with the Indepdendent party. What the media means by independents, here in New York State are called “blank”. I am a “blank” meaning I’m not registered in either party. The problem is that “blanks” can vote in primaries, but they can and do vote in general elections. I would guess that it was the “blanks” who gave the election to Trump. They are a decisive percentage of the electorate and their power and influence is stealth and usually not recognized and even if recognized not acknowledged.

      3. David, I’m not sure why you think a 3rd or multi party system won’t work? Of course there are no guarantees, however this type of political system has worked in most other 1st world western countries for a long time. Why be a ‘blank’ when you can vote for a party platform of your own choice. After all ‘Independent’ is just another word for a voter who does not feel that they can support either of the existing party platforms.

  5. Hey, James…
    Well…damn. I said you had opened a can of worms and instead all I see is total agreement. Fine. I’ll play Devil’s Advocate. Following are comments from you and other folks who have replied and then my thoughts:
    “Ever since Donald Trump was elected I’ve been trying to understand why people like him. My current theory is neither Trump nor his follows can handle complexity. Trump’s simplex approach to problems resonates with their own simplex relationship with reality, and they find that comforting.”
    “Complexity”. Interesting choice of words. What’s complicated about life on this planet? We’re born, we eat, we excrete waste, we labor, and we die. And that’s it. Only it isn’t quite that simple, now is it?
    Mankind has gone from that “simple” life, agriculture, growing their own food, to barter, trading a bushel of apples for a new shovel, to small towns to big cities and huge corporations and…here we are in 2020. So sure, life is “complex” as hell. The human animal, however, has not changed one bit: He remains a creature torn between his intellect and his passions.
    “Trump is low on the scale, seeing reality in terms of black and white. People like voting for candidates like themselves. We need to vote for people who are higher on the handling complexity scale than ourselves.”
    Interesting. I heard no one, period, suggesting that when 95 percent of black people voted for Barack Obama, that that was a bad thing. And regardless of context—political “careers,” doctors, lawyers, or trash men—everyone’s life still, once again, reduces to, now to put it this way: Doing the best they can…
    Except now the discussion has shifted from “common” everyday folk to…authority figures…to those in positions of power and control over everyone else. So now, yes, at this point, all bets are off simply because anyone who wants power and control over others already has some serious “problems” and “issues”. I.E., they, all of them, every single one of them since the beginning of time, are convinced that they are, well, “better” than everyone else.
    In other words, the discussion has now shifted, moved from a matter of “intelligence” to that other half of the brain, the world of passions and emotions.
    So at this point, mine would be a simple question: If it was perfectly acceptable that most black people voted for the black guy, why is it so bad that white people voted for the white guy?
    And there is this consideration: When talking about the “good” guys, their leader is always the “smartest” in the bunch, the “best” man because of skills in leadership. The bad guys, oh, a bunch of gun-slingers in the old west, were always led by “the fastest gun in the west”. It would appear that “good” and “evil” don’t play by the same rules.
    “Millions of people voted for him because he handles complexity in the same way they do – which is at a simple gut-level.”
    And is that a bad thing? Like it or not, the human animal is driven by a brain, split right down the middle. Half dictates his intellect, his thinking and reasoning. The other controls those passions and emotions. Oh, don’t misunderstand. I agree. Essentially, thinking really is the hardest damned work a man can do. But think too much, too long, and too hard and it ceases to be a coin with two-sides and becomes instead a bottomless rabbit hole of endless possibilities and considerations. Now add to that those “complexities” mentioned previously and yep, it is the perfect script for a life reduced to little more than conflict between and among people. And not just “people” in general, but ah, especially between that “Ruling Class” and everyone else.
    “Why don’t we expect all politicians to have PhDs in political science? Why shouldn’t the highest political jobs require the greatest political experience? Shouldn’t a president at least have the experience being a governor or senator, if not a whole lot more?”
    And that is exactly the conflict. I am to believe that “those people” who had both the time and money (which used to be by “accident of birth” but is now a “legal right”…at least in many cases) to run off to college to get that “formal education” are, in ways that no one has yet to explain to me, “better” than everyone else and therefore more suited to…to pass laws as to what is “best” for those “commoners,” the everyday blue-collar working men and women. It is now little more than a return to those old days of King and peasants, that Ruling Class and everyone else.At this point, life has just been reduced to “Be a good little peasant and do what you’re told and we’ll get along just fine.” Only now there is a fundamental difference. Hold that thought.
    I would also ask this question: Exactly what is “political science”? Or put this way: There is nothing, at all, the least bit “scientific” and “politics”.
    “Only a simplex person would vote for another simplex person.”
    And I could just as easily, and correctly, say, “And only a person who has been educated beyond his level of intelligence by going to college is going to vote for someone else…who has been educated beyond his, or her, level of intelligence.”
    I found this recently, in part, from this website:
    https://www.thoughtco.com/presidents-without-college-degrees-3368101
    “Even though nearly a dozen U.S. presidents – including some very successful ones – never earned degrees, every White House occupant since Truman has earned at least a bachelor’s degree. Would the likes of Lincoln and Washington be elected today without degrees?
    “’Probably not,’ wrote Caitlin Anderson on CollegePlus, an organization that works with students to earn degrees. ‘Our information saturated society believes education must take place in the traditional classroom setting. Having a college degree makes candidates attractive. It makes anyone attractive. It’s essential.’” [end]
    “…every White House occupant since Truman has earned at least a bachelor’s degree.”
    Since Truman, eh?
    Truman was president until ’53. Damn, I was born in ’52. That means that every single president in my life has that “formal education”. And here we are in 2020. I think it is time to make the argument that if this is the best those “well-educated” people can do, we better start electing “common” people, men and women who have never, ever stepped foot inside a college.
    But no, instead the argument, at least within these comments, has been reduced to Trump is a moron and only appeals to dumbass rednecks.
    “Or imagine you need brain surgery. Who will you pick? The surgeon with the most experience, or some egotistic guy who thinks anyone can do brain surgery?”
    Long story made short:
    Driving a big-truck and parked in a truckstop somewhere in the northeast in early 2001, I had this discussion with the other truck drivers: “Who should make more money—the brain surgeon or the garbage men?” Without exception, everyone said the same thing: The brain surgeon. And all I did was remind them of the then recent sanitation workers’ strike in New York City. So sure, that brain surgeon may well indeed save your loved one’s life but in terms of that “bigger picture,” who really is of more value to “society”? The rebuttal, of course, is the now familiar theme of “Yes, but…” I.E., the surgeon requires a college education and the trash man doesn’t and once again, as is always the case in these little discussions, the real problem is between the content of the discussion staying with the confines of the context. That is just another way of opening Pandora’s Box or jumping into those damned rabbit holes.
    So essentially, at this point the argument is not that Trump is a moron but rather his election proves he was elected because most of the voters are morons.
    “Can you send this on to the Iranians? It might help them understand what they’re up against.”
    No apologies, but this is simply funny as hell. The people in the Middle East have hated each other and been at war with each since, well, the beginning of time.
    I was right there, watching the news, when President Jimmy Carter stood there as Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin signed that “Camp David Accords,” i.e., “peace in the Middle East,” in ’78. Yeah, how as that played out? Well, the only real difference is that the United States did indeed butt in and now the history is a comedic-tragedy of which players will claim to be “friends” and “allies” and why. But bet the farm that none of those alliances will last long.
    So maybe, just possibly, the “average American”—i.e., those who liked Trump—are simply fed up with the madness that is the stuff of the Middle East.
    But a side-note on this topic:
    It is fascinating to me that Americans now spend so much time now arguing and debating “God” and the Christian religion. I find it telling as hell as that those same people avoid even mentioning that “other” religion and the “god” of that religion. Yes. I know the answer: “We don’t live there.” Fine. Then why in the hell does this country care so damned much about what goes on over there?
    Answer: Oil. “National interests.” And poof, just like that, the conversation moves away from both politics—who and how best to “lead” the country—and god/gods, i.e., religions, to…money. And that’s another can of worms at the bottom of yet another rabbit because poof, as if by yet more magic, the debate becomes “why” those people with all that money should not be forced, by law, to “share” their wealth with the less fortunate. But moving on….
    “For me it’s the unpredictability of his impetuous nature. The current crisis with Iran is yet another example of incompetence. This administration can’t even get the little things right let alone have any grasp over the more complex issues.”
    Really?
    “Impetuous nature”. “Incompetence”. “More complex issues”. But at the same time…”the little things….”
    So it always reduces to the same thing: “Everyone” wants a president who will do “something” about all the problems and all the evils in the world but unless and until it is what they, the voter thinks should be done, well hell, then that president is a moron, is incompetent.
    Now we’re getting to the real heart of the matter:
    This discussion has far less to do about the president, any of them, and everything to do with the people who vote him into office. And that is to revisit basic American history, now isn’t it? I mean, “in the beginning” only white, male, landowners could vote. Now? Hell, everyone can vote. And that’s a good thing, right?
    Well, not really because now that president is somehow supposed to govern by appealing to what is good for the country, that proverbial “greater good,” right? No, not now, Those days are gone forever because now the president has to appeal to how those voters have voluntarily broken themselves down into all those convenient little “groups”. And just like these comments have made abundantly clear, that is indeed perfectly acceptable…well, unless and until it is those uneducated rednecks voting for someone who at least, under the guise of “running for office,” promises to do something for them. And suddenly, poof, that becomes a bad thing.
    Again: The problem ain’t with the president but is indeed the people who vote for him or against him. That’s the real issue. And right now, the Americans have so successfully divided themselves that I won’t live long enough to ever see a true “majority” be happy with anyone because this discussion is no longer about the American “people,” but rather American “people” based upon the countless ways in which they both self-identify as well as are identified for legal purposes. And yep, they tend to vote like those white, uneducated dolts who voted for the moron, Trump. Birds of a feather, you know, do tend to stick together.
    But no one ever talks about that, do they?
    “This particular president should be a lesson to us all. The only way to prevent this from happening is to require vetting of any potential candidate for the general election by the political party they are running for.
    “If a candidate wants to run as an independent they can do so. At least if the independent happens to be a populist and wins the election they will not be able to hold any particular political party hostage.”
    That has to be quite possibly the most dangerous idea I have ever heard. One group of folks get to create a “standard” by which any and all potential candidates are to be judged? Seriously? Damn, I’m a man who will tell the truth even when it is to my downfall but when talking about politicians? Hell, I could lie my way through any “vetting” process on either side of the aisle. Tell ‘em what they want to hear, get elected, then do whatever you want. Oh, wait: That describes the process since, well, okay, for at least as long as I have been on this planet.
    “Some people want to keep things simple and depend on intuition.”
    And why not? I mean, once again, all the presidents in my lifetime have been “educated”. And the older I get, the more “educated” are the voters. And according to the comments I’ve read here, ain’t nobody happy with the results. So maybe the human animal needs to stop not only worshipping at the feet of his “intelligence”—but especially stop worshipping those “degrees” and “titles” that are reward for “formal education”.
    I.E., maybe, just maybe, it is time for “Luke, trust your feelings.”
    “Trump being totally incompetent and inexperienced for the job is apparent. The scary thing is all the people who thought he was. How can so many people be wrong?”
    Ah, there is the arrogance I was waiting to see. So much smarter than everyone else, so much more well-educated. And you wonder why people are not getting along in everyday life. Amazing.
    “…Trump’s voters have the same problem he has, black and white thinking, and no ability to deal with and appreciate complexity.”
    There’s the word again: Complexity.
    What is it exactly that makes daily life so “complex”? Again, people work, they raise families, they do the best they can. That sounds not just simple but truly boring as hell. “Complexity” in this case would seem to mean “diversity”. And if that is even just close to the intended meaning, then hang up the “Out of Business” sign and be done with it. Once again the attempt is to find just one man, or one woman, or one person is not white and identifies as whatever in the hell it is that she/he/it chooses to appeal to everyone else. I.E., again the content has changed from simply being “intelligent” enough to lead and appeal is now to the other half of the brain.
    “Part of the problem is we vote for people we like, and that’s not a good measure of experience and skill. I believe political jobs should have minimum job qualifications.”
    And who, exactly, would be those people, that group, who would decide what those “qualifications” would be? College graduates? Fine. What fields of studies? Successful business people? Really? As if those people give one damn about anything or anyone else except themselves and their own businesses. Other elected people, other “politicians”? Oh, dear God, shoot me now. And I know blue-collar working men and women are not part of this idea. So again, who would be these people to decide what those “minimum job qualifications” would be?
    “I think elections and passing laws should require a 66-75% majority. That would force us to compromise. Society would be happier and more successful if fewer people were dissatisfied with the results of politics. Polarized politics is killing us.”
    Is that “66-75% majority” of those who do take the time to vote or is the suggestion that all registered voters would be required to vote and the winner then would be the one with that majority of votes?
    But as it stands, of the average of, oh, 60% of eligible voters do actually vote, that means that the president is elected by winning just 31% of that vote. That means he truly represents just 31% of the population, meaning the rest of the 69% either did not like him or simply does not care one way or the other.
    And I would submit that it has far less to do with the “who” that is elected and everything to do with the laws and policies put into place and in that regard, yes indeed, “Polarized politics is killing us.”
    “Killing us”. The perfect way to say the thing. I live in Virginia. And that’s part of the south. Just scan the headlines and it’s pretty clear that the rest of the country has little concern for what southerners think about anything. After all, we’re just a bunch of dumbass rednecks.
    Well, that was true until this year when the Democrats took over because now “everyone” is watching to see what’s gonna happen with…wait for it: Gun control. And yep, here, just like most everywhere else, most “gun violence” and “murders” take place in those “big cities” but the solution to all that violence is to ban and remove guns…from everyone.
    That’s a clue, by the way: The real problem has far less to do with “educated” people versus the unwashed masses and everything to do with those who live in those “big cities” versus the rest of us, those who prefer small towns and the country. So now in this regard, hell yes, people, at least those here in my little part of the world, are indeed fed up and angry as hell that those “politicians” begin with the convenient assumption that any and all problems going on in the “big city” are ubiquitous and “they” are going to fix those “problems”. But ain’t it just funny as hell that those problems in those big cities continue to remain, year after year, election after election.
    But once again, those “problems” are little more than a discussion that everyone involved refuses to have…the discussion of the human nature behind those problems.
    “I also think we should encourage more studies in civics and let kids vote at 13, but not count their votes until they are 18. They need to get involved sooner and get the practice, plus we’d know what the coming generation thinks.”
    And who is going to teach those classes? Where are you ever going to find someone, anyone, to teach a “civics” class without including a bias for and prejudice against this political party or that?
    And what if that older generation does not like what they see in “…what that coming generation thinks”? I.E., this sounds far more like indoctrination as opposed to education.
    And I’m done.
    No, I did not vote for Trump. I’m one of those guys who does not vote, period, because from where I have been sitting for my 67 years, politics and politicians are the damned problem to begin with. Or as I have already stated: It is truly a “Ruling Class” who at each and every step of the way wants me to believe that “they” truly care about “the people”. No, they don’t. They open their mouths and they, all of them, lie when they say that. At the best, “they” care about only “some of the people some of the time”. They play to their audience because they are in it for the oldest reason of all: Power and control over others.
    And elections have now become little more than a contest to see which group, which “class” of people, will put together enough votes to get that person in office who will do the most…for them…and to hell with everyone else. If I am wrong, why are people still pointing out that Trump won only because more white people voted for him than his opponent?
    But the really simple truth is that “all of this,” this total antipathy for Trump, comes immediately after the first black president left office and the first female candidate lost. That was the beginning of what has become laughable histrionics and hysteria. I.E., at this point, the moral of the story is simple: People were so sure they would never see another straight white guy in the white house because, don’t you know, life is now all about “diversity” and white guys represent all that is bad, evil, and wrong in the world.
    And that has to be correct because, after all, I only having been reading it, in the “news,” every day now for going on four years. To disagree is to suggest I can’t trust the “news”. And if that is the case, why should I believe anything they write…about anything?

    1. Wow, that’s a lot to reply to Randy. It’s going to take me a while to answer your points. I’m going to do it a little bit at a time.

      I should have said it is perfectly natural for people to vote for people like themselves. That’s an understandable human tendency. But it’s not practical when it comes to hiring a person for a very important job. You want someone who can do the job. Someone who has the experience to do the job. One reason we didn’t have a black president before Obama is there have been few qualified candidates, same for women. I voted for Obama not because he was black, but because he was qualified. Yes, he had only the minimum qualifications, but he made the most of them, and he was exceptionally intelligent. I voted for him three times, picking him in the primary over Hilary Clinton because I thought him more qualified. In 2016 I voted for Hilary because she was way more qualified than Trump. However, I didn’t particularly like her.

      I don’t think most black people voted for Obama because just because he was black. Quite often there are black candidates running in elections that don’t get the black vote. And if women voted for women, Hilary would have won. In fact, if women voted for women, women would always win because there are more women voters than men voters.

      Trump appealed to a lot of people because they loved his tell-it-like-he-sees-it attitude. Many voted for him because he wasn’t a professional politician. But those aren’t real qualifications for the job.

      You don’t vote because you have given up on the system. I can understand that millions of potential voters have done that. Just because the system is fucked up doesn’t mean we can ignore it. Running our civilization is immensely complex. No one is really qualified. But we have to try the best we can. I believe Republicans are running our civilization into the ground because they have adopted simplex solutions to multiplex problems. Reducing taxes and regulations can’t solve all our problems.

      The elections aren’t about class, they’re about money. Plutocrats control this country. They will use class struggles to get what they want. They will use religious beliefs to get what they want. Before the 21st-century they used both parties to get what they want, but in recent years most of them have put their money on the Republicans because the Republicans have built an effective coalition of special interest groups. People’s opinions about abortion, gay rights, and guns should not be the deciding factor on how to run our civilization, yet the Republicans have used those voters who are passionate about those causes. That is quite savvy of them. Republicans are far better organized than the Democrats. But their ultimate goal is not to create a better civilization but to keep their money.

      We need to elect people that want to improve our whole way of life, and that requires finding the best people for the job. Trump is popular because he’s selfish, and promotes selfish interests. That’s turned out to be very popular. We’re now living with lifeboat mentality – every person for themselves. Our civilization is sinking, so that sentiment is understandable, but it’s not the best way to survive.

      1. I sat here and put all that together and was almost through and then thought, “I bet there’s a word-count limit to replies. Oh, what the hell. Let’s see what happens.”
        James, you should write a book. No. That’s too “old-fashioned”. You need to make a video. You have a gift. No, you’re the last of a dying breed. You are the one man who discusses disagreements, those differing “points of view,” and does so absent the vitriol I’m thinking of now in the world of “social media”.
        So you and I were young lads when President Kennedy spoke those now famous words, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”
        And here we are now in 2020 and it is all about “rights” and “entitlements,” i.e., what “the government” can do for us, what “it” owes “us”. It is indeed madness.
        Actually, you you summed it all up perfectly:
        “We’re now living with lifeboat mentality – every person for themselves. Our civilization is sinking, so that sentiment is understandable, but it’s not the best way to survive.”
        And you are correct, of course. I am one of those cynical, grumpy old men who has indeed “…given up on the system.” People, everyday people in the mostly boring, routine matters of day-to-day life, remain easy to, if not like, at least get along with. But that “system”? It brings out the worst in everyone.
        As always, James, you stay safe and be well.
        I go away now because yeah, I’ve exceeded my “word-count limit,” at least for awhile.

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