Politics without a fulcrum

Here’s a video of American politics at its current best.

levers are engineering at their most elementary and all school children of my generation experienced the significance of a lever’s fulcrum when they played on teeter totters. Without equal weights on the ends a teeter will not totter. One side will sink below the other elevating the lighter side. By sliding from an end to the center, where the fulcrum is, a heavier weight can lift its side. I loved being in the middle of a teeter totter when kids were hanging all over them so that I could sway one way or the other and determine which end would rise or fall. This was also my politics. I didn’t like the radicals or reactionaries on the end of politics (Teddy Roosevelt’s “lunatic fringe”) to have too much influence.

Today the Republican party has used the courts, laws, some lucky elections and Fox News’s to imbalance America toward what they hope will be decades of a “conservative” agenda that will confound the coming liberal majority. In other words they want to eviscerate democratic principals to stay in power.

Here are three news stories that remind me of how a minority can enforce its will and how pragmatic politics can be torn asunder.

First here’s a story from the Duluth Schools. The Red Plan that I opposed looted classrooms of teachers and resources for pretty new buildings. It did this by denying a vote to the public rather like the Republicans making it hard for likely democrats to vote. The result, a decade after the Red Plan’s completion, is a frantic search for classroom funds. This story explains how three school board members (who were playing Republicans) voted to turn their back on $700,000 annually for Duluth’s public school classrooms (7 teachers worth) to show off their fiscal conservatism. They didn’t want to raise taxes by a half million over the next fifteen years to put $700,000 a year into the classrooms.

When I fought the Red Plan I warned that this kind its financing would drain the classrooms but that fight was lost long ago. Now our children need more teachers and this half million is paltry compared to the seven teachers we could annually add to our teaching roster. That’s me the pragmatist talking:


In 2016 a lot of Americans came up with a simpleminded excuse to let a demagogue become President. They claimed, and still believe, that both candidates were equally bad. I disagreed with them then and still disagree with them. The pragmatist in me fears that four years of seeing how awful Donald Trump is will not result in his defeat. I know that his critics have a hard time imagining him winning but this eye opening article in Politico is a warning. Defeating Donald Trump could prove as difficult as trying to kill Rasputin.


And one of the key issues that will determine whether Trump can be defeated is one that may very well keep Trump’s voters in his pocket. Immigration. David Frum has written a thoughtful piece in the Atlantic and this NPR story today is a much shorter summation. I fear that there are no longer enough pragmatists sitting on the fulcrum to ground Donald Trump.


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