Full Faith and Trust—in Nixon?

Today’s much more relaxing book, though one might not have thought so, is Tom Wicker’s biography of Richard Nixon, One of Us: Richard Nixon and the American Dream (1991) 📚, which has been waiting on my shelf since I was at Fordham. Judging by the bookmark inside I gave it a go poolside in 1996, leaving off just before reading about the 1952 Checkers speech. That speech was extraordinary, if only because it began an expectation of uncommon candor regarding the finances of presidential candidates.

Mr. Sparkman and Mr. Stevenson should come before the American people, as I have, and make a complete financial statement as to their financial history, and if they don’t it will be an admission that they have something to hide. And I think you will agree with me — because, folks, remember, a man that’s to be President of the United States, a man that’s to be Vice President of the United States, must have the confidence of all the people.

How is it that the confidence of all the people is too much to expect these days?

‪Took a break from reading Masha Gessen’s The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin (2012) 📚 to read a bit of Twitter. That was a poor choice for relaxation. Maybe I should make cookies🍪

A small person, perhaps a year or two old, toddled by my yard and carefully stooped to pick a beautiful wildflower. Then she and her daddy walked on, as she smelled the sweet dandelion.

Our Elections Make No Sense to Me

I really don’t understand electoral politics, especially the selection of candidates for office and how they are chosen. It’s not the procedure that I don’t understand—that I do—but why certain candidates appeal to anyone enough to garner votes. Why would anyone vote for Donald Trump, for example. Or why would anyone in the Democratic Party think that Joe Biden was anything but a creep?

Similarly, I have an intellectual appreciation for the fact that people vote for their team, but at the same time I don’t know why they would vote for someone they’d never invite over for dinner or let alone with their children. It’s easier for me to understand voting for someone with whom one has substantial disagreements over policy, than it is voting for a liar, a thief, a cheat, a smarmy snake-oil salesman. How can you expect someone to be responsible with government if you can’t trust him any further than you can spit?

Trust matters. Character counts.

Or at least I hope it does. And if it doesn’t, why not?

Perhaps it does and my understanding of character and my reasons for trusting just differ from other folks. I have to presume that people did and do trust Mr. Trump, though I’ve no idea why. It’s easier, I suppose, to believe that your neighbors are misled or deluded rather than to think that they may agree with malicious or callous behavior. It’s easier, but not easy.

Of course, I am most likely missing the big picture here, whatever it is, but I am very tired of being presented every four years with a choice between two people I don’t much care for. Choosing the least unappealing option is not at all satisfactory, like choosing among hung, drawn, or quartered. One wonders if either would win under different circumstances, such as if we ranked preferences or could choose None of the Above. I suspect we have neither of those systems because both the Republicans and the Democrats are quite happy with the current arrangement, unless tweaking the system means their party wins more frequently.

Why Can’t We Have Nice Things?

I’m presently dividing my time between walking, reading John Kenneth Galbraith’s The Affluent Society (1958) 📚, and watching Yes, Minister (1980-1984), in lieu of contemplating the latest shenanigans or burning my phone’s battery on Twitter. The Affluent Society seemed like a reasonable follow-up to Manu Saadia’s excellently optimistic Trekonomics (2016) 📚. I’m enjoying it. Oddly enough the language is not that far off from some of the dialogue in Yes, Minister; it’s almost like there was a certain consistency of schooling or something.

But the questions I’d like answered, in all seriousness and honesty, in plain English, now, today, are “Why not?” Why can’t we have nice things? Why can’t we, in the immortal words of Rodney King, all just get along?