Editorial: A toast to cooperation

Kingston Times Editor Dan Barton. (Photo: Keith Ferris/keithferrisphoto.com)

Kingston Times Editor Dan Barton. (Photo: Keith Ferris/keithferrisphoto.com)

As of the completion of the March 24 edition of the Kingston Times (last Wednesday evening, March 23, but still true as of March 29, when I got around to posting this online), the parameters of the sales tax deal between the city and the county remained a “known unknown,” as it were. So it’s hard to definitively editorially say it’s good or bad. Maybe next week. (Unless the deal has fallen apart – a reasonable suspicion given the delay in any release of specifics.)

But it is good that the city and the county are moving from an adversarial to a cooperative model on this topic. I’m 100 percent for, as the joint communiqué from Mike and Steve reads, “working together and engaging in multiple and productive discussions” toward saving money via intergovernmental cooperation. Why that approach wasn’t taken in the first place back in January I can’t say, but if it had, about six weeks of angst, frayed relationships and public turmoil might have been saved. Maybe next time those bringing a stick to negotiations will remember to bring a carrot with them? We can hope, but the fact that I’m getting a déjà vu-ey feeling while writing this makes me think this is a tough lesson for some to really learn.

Speaking of tough lessons, the rise of Donald Trump has done many things to our politics, not least of which has been an endless humiliation of those of us from The New York Times to the Kingston Times who fancy themselves good at predicting politics. When things change, old understandings become useless, and as a result there’s been massive spluttering and confusion among those trying to get a handle on Why Trump? and OMG is this guy really going to be president?


To the second question I will answer heck, maybe as I have about three times said he’s reached his ceiling of supporters and can’t go any further. I am doubtful, however — I am still holding to my hunch that we’re past the time in this country when angry white people can unilaterally elect a president. We’ll see.

To the first question, I offer — primarily just to get it off my chest so I can start thinking about the next editorial — my not particularly original answer.

For the first time in a long time in this country, working-class white people are finding themselves on the business end of social Darwinism and they don’t like it. Not that anyone of any race actually does like it, but it’s particularly galling when you’ve assumed that this country was primarily set up to favor you and your buddies and now all of a sudden that’s changed.

I suspect the anger that drives Trump supporters also manifests itself in the increasing mortality rate of middle-aged whites with little or no college education. At the root of it, some commentators think (and I agree with them) is this: Once upon a few decades ago, it was a lot easier for a not particularly ambitious or particularly well-educated white male to have a pretty good life without having to try that hard. As that situation has changed, it leaves that group of people, who just aren’t creative/tech-savvy/whatever enough to have the good (meaning economically stable) life in today’s economy, pissed off and in despair. So you get more drug abuse, suicide, not giving a rat’s ass about your health and therefore dying young, etc.

So Trump comes along and tells them it’s not their fault, it’s the Mexicans’ fault, it’s globalization’s and the Chinese’s fault, it’s the political establishment’s fault, it’s the Muslims’ fault. A lot of people respond strongly to that. And hey, if you think “the system” has turned against you and you’re permanently effed — so many people had their lives pretty much ruined in the recession and many more are convinced they’ll have to work until they drop — why not get behind a guy who promises to burn it all down? After all, business as usual and the status quo aren’t the friends of those who need a change or they’re not going to make it.

Now, if you’re a Democrat who also feels the status quo is leading us down the road to disaster, then by all means vote Bernie on April 19, because whatever he is, he is not the same old same old. (Well, he might be a more intense version of Jimmy Carter, who stormed into DC in ’77 with a lot of ideas and unimpeachable integrity but got stymied by a Congress far less enthusiastic about change than he.) I do see a similarity between Bernie and Obama in 2008: My theory on ’08 is that Obama, a charismatic guy who projected competence — but had not that much of a track record — came along and a lot of people themselves projected what they wanted him to be (basically a Bernie-type figure) onto him. What they got was the same thing that Hillary would bring, i.e., a lefty-flavored centrist who’ll maintain the status quo and (this is an important part for those both for and against a Democratic president come ’17) appoint Supreme Court justices with a better chance of making liberal decisions than not.

You can say the same thing about not being the same old same old about Trump, too, I suppose, but I cannot in good conscience recommend that anyone vote for Trump. Fundamental change is one thing but a slide into rage-based governance doesn’t do anyone any good.

There is one comment

  1. nopolitics

    A little bit of rage-based governance is not necessarily bad, depending on what the rage is directed toward.

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