Even if we stopped screaming at each other, even if we stopped indulging in tribalism, even if we agreed to meet somewhere in the middle, we would still be lost.
The problem with our politics is not just that we are impossibly divided; it is that we are impossibly divided arguing about things that should have been settled in the LAST century, and we are missing altogether what THIS one is about. And what it is about to do to us.
Let’s rehash these a hundred more times! Was Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal good or bad? Is some level of economic equality good for a democracy, or bad? Was Charles Lindbergh’s support of America First shortsighted or prescient? Is racism bad, or just retro hijinks? Is coal a horribly polluting fuel, or the fuel of the future? Let’s argue about these questions until 2099 and see where we are. Right where we are now, but worse. Everybody is playing his or her violin for sympathy, as Rome burns and the rest of the world with it.
Meanwhile, in the midst of our so-called economic boom, a record 7 million Americans can’t keep up with their car payments. Does this suggest perhaps that wealth inequality is something that may be causing real people real problems? Something we should be avoiding? No, instead we gave the rich yet ANOTHER huge tax cut. If we had met in the middle, the rich would have gotten only a moderately big tax cut. Does the mounting evidence of climate catastrophe mean we should act to save ourselves? No, instead we watch President Trump and the Republicans do LESS than we were doing before. Should we continue going backward, or a little forward? If we meet in the middle, we will do nothing. And so it goes.
Meanwhile, the future is about to throw another one at us. Maybe the biggest one ever. That’s right: artificial intelligence is knocking on the door, and it’s just one more thing we aren’t gearing up to deal with. For starters, it could soon enough wipe out 40 percent of existing jobs. Does anyone think that might be disruptive to American society? Maybe it will only mean that if 7 million Americans lose their cars, they won’t need them anyway because their jobs have disappeared, too.
So let’s keep at it. As the machines get smarter and smarter, let’s just continue to play dumb and dumber.