Crawford at Cologne Game Lab (2011)
This essay triggered much thinking. I have been reading a lot of pieces surrounding this matter and am coming to some frightening conclusions. I have long believed that the American body politic is slowly disintegrating because the problems of our modern society have become too complicated for the average person to understand. This is what drives populism, the political philosophy that intellectual analysis of political issues must be replaced by “common sense”. But I anticipated that these problems would not come to a head for decades. Now I fear that I have been too optimistic.
The Supreme Court’s swerve to the far right has obliterated its legitimacy in the minds of the majority of Americans. Should a political crisis arise, its resolution of the crisis will command no respect; it will fail to prevent violence. Meanwhile, the right no longer respects the legitimacy of our electoral system. It is now attempting to “reform” the electoral system in a manner that will give it an advantage and will simultaneously destroy the legitimacy of the electoral system in the eyes of the majority of Americans.
An illuminating way to think about these issues was provided many years ago by a professor at Berkeley. To greatly simplify his idea, everybody views government as something like a parent. Conservatives see government as a father whose task is to enforce the rules and punish those who deviate from expectations. Liberals see government as a mother whose responsibility is to nurture and protect the citizenry. These two perceptions of government do not meld well, hence our political polarization. In times past, we hammered out compromises that preserved the system, but of late the right has become uncompromising and insistent that its perception of government must prevail.
I think we’ll get through the 2022 elections with a lot of anger and grumbling, but I now fear that the 2024 election will trigger the collapse of the American political system and the advent of serious bloodshed. The right will reject all of its defeats as “stolen”, and the left will contest elections in which the right has prevented or thrown out an excessive number of votes. The left’s challenges will get to the Supreme Court. If the Court has regained some sense, it will reject Republican election-rigging. If it does not, expect the conflict to spill into the streets. The right will eagerly embrace violence, believing that its ownership of guns will guarantee the massacre of leftists and the right’s subsequent conquest of American government.
Two years ago, in the run-up to the 2020 election, my wife insisted that we purchase guns. She was so paranoid that I indulged her fears and we bought some small guns. But now I think we should resume practicing with them.