My Anti-Resolution, defeated

I started 2016 with my Anti-Resolutions, one of which was not to discuss politics in public, or watch cable news of any kind, lest the screaming darken my otherwise sunny mood.  (For I am generally blessed with optimism.)  I have always felt that public declarations of political preference are a waste of time -- people are never persuaded by tweets, Facebook posts, or emails to change their mind about anything, much less whom to vote for.  (As a social scientist, one might observe that change of any kind is relatively rare, which is why companies spend billions of dollars to alter consumer brand preference. It's rather tricky to get anyone to switch brands, much less vote differently from their friends.)

But I guess every year has its surprises...and I never anticipated the coarseness and vulgarity of the Trump campaign.  Yesterday, I violated my own Anti-Resolution, and peeked at the GOP Debate, where I was assaulted with dirty jokes (yes, during a Presidential Debate) and almost shocking ignorance of economic realities of free trade.  The audience must have taken a brain-numbing drug to shout hooray when facts were blatantly ignored, defied or mocked.  The patient Fox moderators forged ahead in this sea of rudeness (and I had to admire their good temper, in the face of the nastiness and blustering of Mr Trump.)

The debate seemed a perfect example of what happens if schools ignore American history, and students are taught that self-expression matters more than dull facts and figures. No, you cannot make it up as you go along, and numbers (about spending, about budgets, about demography) do matter, especially to a President.  A strong opinion based on nonsense is still nonsense, no matter how you "spin" it.  Decimating free trade is nonsense. America's been trading since before the Revolution-- we imported our coffee, tea, mahogany, silk, and much else as we became a powerhouse.

We ignore history at our peril.  In December, I wrote the last pages of my novel.  I learned much about Philadelphia's history while writing it and I gained a new respect for the fragility of our republic.  "A republic if you can keep it," Benjamin Franklin is reported to have said at the close of the 1787 Constitutional Convention.  

A republic if you can keep it, indeed.  


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