November 23, 2020
Our November magazine published online Saturday morning – have you read it yet?
It’s one of our best issues yet, packed with in-depth, thought-provoking stories you won’t find anywhere else…
Check out Alice Lloyd’s fantastic Virtual Thanksgiving to help you get you ready for this week’s Turkey Day. And we’ve got famed economist Dr. Art Laffer with an optimistic essay that details why he sees America’s glass as definitely half-full.
Of course, being our November 2020 issue, there’s plenty of election analysis, too… With President Trump having one foot out the door of the White House, Executive Editor Trish Regan talks Democrats’ new problem.
Be sure and flip to this beautiful personal photograph Editor in Chief P.J. O’Rourke shared from his latest hunting trip… (The excursion was supposed to take his mind off politics, but there were too many similarities between the birds in the woods and the turkeys in Washington – so we got a story out of it.)
Today, we share P.J.’s Letter From the Editor…
What if they held an election and all the candidates lost? That’s more or less what just happened…
We elected nobody president. Albeit he is a well-known, experienced nobody of long-standing. Yet the most ardent supporters of Biden must admit that nobody is who he is.
That’s assuming Joe Biden has any ardent supporters other than wife Jill, daughter Ashley, and – if there’s an angle Hunter can play – son Hunter. Even they were not personifications of passionate enthusiasm on the campaign trail.
The best yard sign I saw this election campaign – indeed, the best yard sign I’ve ever seen – said, “Settle for Biden.”
America often elects nobodies. We’ve elected thousands of political candidates since 1776. How many have a Lincoln Memorial, a Jefferson Memorial, or a Washington Monument? How many even have a Woodrow Wilson Bridge on the I-495 section of the Washington Beltway?
Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville visited the U.S. in 1831 and was so damn observant about the place that his book, Democracy in America, has been practically quoted to death ever since.
Which won’t stop me from piling on with some de Tocqueville quotations from Chapter XIII, “Government of the Democracy in America.”
Universal suffrage is by no means a guarantee of the wisdom of the popular choice.
[Voters’] conclusions are hastily formed from a superficial inspection of the more prominent features of a question. Hence it often happens that mountebanks of all sorts are able to please the people, while their truest friends frequently fail to gain their confidence.
The ablest men in the United States are rarely placed at the head of affairs.
The natural instincts of democracy induce the people to reject distinguished citizens as their rulers.
There is no superiority, however legitimate it may be, which is not irksome in [the people’s] sight.
Superiority may have been in short supply during this election. But, gosh, were we irked!
Voter turnout was huge. But almost everybody was voting against a candidate – because they were hugely opposed to him (or him + her). And every voter was right. The vote was a great big “No thank you” to Trump and Biden.
I’m glad to see the back of Donald Trump. (Although I’m already sick of looking at the front Biden puts up.) It’s not that I disagree with Trump’s policies. I mostly don’t, except for his stupid Wall and the xenophobic crap that went with it.
I’ve traveled the entire border, from Brownsville/Matamoros to San Ysidro/Tijuana, on both sides of the boundary. The Wall is about as conceivable as a hiking trail across the Atlantic. The only sane reaction to the idea is, “Go long on the Mexican ladder industry.”
My problem with Trump is the noise… I like peace and quiet, which is why I live way out in the country. But even though my nearest neighbors are a quarter of a mile away, they make a racket.
Former hedge fund manager says this unusual investment could soar 500% as the Federal Reserve prints trillions of dollars. Click to find out more…
I have one neighbor who’s addicted to power equipment operation. He has a lawnmower with an engine large enough for NASCAR racing, a 737 jet turbine leaf blower, and a snow blower that could pass for a freight train locomotive. This neighbor mows his lawn every day, the whole day long, starting at 6 a.m.
When the first leaf turns color, he fires up his leaf blower and keeps at it until Yuletide. I swear I’ve seen him climbing a tree with that thing, blasting the last leaf off the highest branch.
Then it’s the snow blower, which he runs up and down his driveway dawn to dusk whether there’s any snow or not. He blows gravel, he blows sand, and he blows mud.
And in the spring, he takes all three machines out of the barn and runs them at full throttle 24/7 to make sure they’re in shape for that year’s upcoming power equipment operation season.
I have another neighbor with a firing range where he practices with his pistol for approximately 30 hours a day, nine days a week. The target range is floodlit so that if he wakes up in the middle of the night he can cope with his insomnia while causing mine. I don’t know what kind of pistol he has, but I’m guessing it’s about twice the size of the Smith & Wesson .44 Magnum that Dirty Harry carried. When fired, it makes a .44 Magnum sound like a Super-Soaker. My neighbor says he’s a competitive target shooter. Who’s he competing with, the Taliban?
Having Trump as president was like having these two guys move into my basement to practice their hobbies.
And the noise from Trump was nothing compared to the noise all the twinkie liberals made about Trump. You can shut up now, Saturday Night Live, return to being Coneheads at the Samurai Delicatessen, and start making us laugh again.
Then there is Trump’s unpredictability. It scares me. I call it “Toddler at the Top of the Stairs.” Anyone who’s raised children in a two-story house will understand the metaphor. There’s that one time when you forgot to close the baby gate. You’re walking through the front hall, and you look up, and… There’s the toddler at the top of the stairs! He’s teetering… He’s tottering… One little pajama footsie is going out over the stair tread…
My kids are grown. I don’t need this in my life anymore.
And finally there’s the leadership question. Answer: No. When America had a crisis, so did Trump. It wasn’t so much that the president was wrong about the COVID-19 pandemic – everybody (Dr. Fauci included) was, at some point, in some way, wrong. It’s just that the president sounded and acted as ignorant and confused as the rest of us… This is not what we elect leaders for.
Leaders should at least give the appearance of knowing what to do. I know this is a pathetic admission of weakness and frailty among us ordinary citizens. We should be able to decide for ourselves. We shouldn’t need this kind of psycho-political prop. But the sad truth is that we do. This is why de Tocqueville was trying to warn us not to elect people as ignorant and confused as we are. (And now we’ve just done it again with Biden.)
American political leadership during the pandemic reminds me of my spectacularly incompetent Scoutmaster Bob 60 years ago. He took my Scout Troop to a wilderness preserve and got us lost on a hike in the woods. “Boys,” said Scoutmaster Bob, “always remember, whenever you’re lost in the woods, head uphill.”
Then Scoutmaster Bob said, “No, no, it’s the other way around. Boys, always remember, whenever you’re lost in the woods, head downhill.” However, we were on a hike in the woods in the Midwest where there aren’t any hills. We’d probably still be out there if Bob hadn’t led us around in circles until we accidentally returned to the parking lot.
And that’s where, politically speaking, we are at the moment.
America didn’t do a left turn downhill into socialism the way the Democrats, pop stars, pollsters, and traditional media predicted. America didn’t do a right turn uphill into Make America Great Again Again.
Trump didn’t get a mandate, and Biden didn’t get much of one. For the next couple of years – at least until the 2022 mid-term elections – government will be some sort of compromise or stalemate. Maybe nothing will get done. What a relief that would be. As Peter Goettler, president of the Cato Institute libertarian think tank says, “Gridlock Rocks!”
Meanwhile we can quit thinking about politics so much and give Democrats and Republicans only the amount of attention they deserve. Partisan politics is a minor team sport – somewhere in importance between beach volleyball and curling.
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Managing Editor, American Consequences
With P.J. O’Rourke and the Editorial Staff
November 23, 2020