Bernie Sanders and Magical Thinking

The real issue in the election is magical thinking. Bernie supporters (like the Trump supporters) have been sold a brand of magical thinking: free college, tax reform, trade protectionism to produce the old 1950s high paying jobs with benefits, isolationist foreign policy, all of which are simply not going to happen, as there is not a political path to deliver them, or in some cases, like starting a trade war with the world economy in poor shape, they are not even desirable, but likely catastrophic and not going to produce the good jobs anyway as automation is rampant.

What Bernie supporters I suspect (but may be wrong, not thinking I have the simplistic lock on reality) hate about Hillary is that she reminds them, by her record that politics is the art of compromise, of deals between interest groups and of trade offs, least worst options. They call this corrupt; I call it real world realism in a democracy with an electorate of conflicting interests. Just think of one of these real world dilemmas: fracking makes the US less dependent on middle east oil and hence has allowed President Obama to intervene less there. Are there alternatives: sure alternative energy is one promising long term option, way out of the dilemma and fracking really sucks. But in reality short term there usually the lesser of two evil choices. That’s life.

President Obama put it well when he said that the only problems that reach the President’s desk are the ones that don’t have a good palatable solution. Bernie would not be good at that role, at least based on his preformance in this campaign. Hillary is all about “tough choices” which is the real world. So hatred of Hillary is partly about hatred of a complex messy hard to be pure, tough choices world. Get over it already, and start working on creative solutions that do better than the tough choices. That is real hard work and high attention span. “long march through the institutions” as the 68ers put it in Europe. Oh and commit to turn out in mid-term elections: another sign of increased attention span.

But then I may be wrong and magical thinking delivers real results. Though in my 55 years of watching US and European politics I can’t recall a single instance of this; though I can recall magical thinking on the left, delivering Presidents Nixon, Reagan and Bush 2. And possibly President Trump going forward. It’s also called Murphy Law and the Law of Unintended Consequences.

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About creativeconflictwisdom

I spent 32 years in a Fortune Five company working on conflict: organizational, labor relations and senior management. I have consulted in a dozen different business sectors and the US Military. I work with a local environmental non profit. I have written a book on the neuroscience of conflict, and its implications for conflict handling called Creative Conflict Wisdom (forthcoming).
This entry was posted in Conflict Processes, Creativity and Conflict, Economic Conflict, Environmental Conflict, US Political Conflict and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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