Guts and Glory

I don't like politics. That's not much of a starting point, I guess, since lots of people don't, and it's a guaranteed conversational stink bomb, but there's a reason why I rarely choose to comment on current events. It is like a game that brings out the very best and the absolute worst in people, so maybe it should come as no surprise that it turns into such a vicious free-for-all. All of that desire to do good mixed up with a powerful drive to be the one to do it. Like a lighter to thermite, this baby's gonna blow.

The major problem -one of the major problems, for there are several- one of the many major problems with governing people is that of whom you get to do it; or rather of who manages to get people to let them do it to them.

To summarize: it is a well-known fact that those people who must want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it. To summarize the summary: anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job. To summarize the summary of the summary: people are a problem.
(from The Restaurant at the End of the Universe by Douglas Adams)

I was reminded of this quote as I was reading God's Long Summer by Charles Marsh. His topic of discussion is quite interesting (to me anyway): the "use" of God by the civil rights and anti-civil rights movements during the early 1960s. While I'm a mere 37 pages in, it has already been an enlightening journey, and I'm only on Marsh's first biographical sketch depicting the life and activities of a Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer. During the summer of 1964, she traveled with the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party to Atlantic City where she and her companions hoped to win a voice for the severely underrepresented African-Americans of the Mississippi delta at that year's Democratic convention.

And as they fought an uphill battle, what was the incumbent Lyndon Johnson's response? "He was irate that Joseph Rauh, a long-time activist in the Democratic party, had agreed to represent the MFDP as its lawyer. He was angry that the Freedom Democrats had even come to town. When Johnson saw Mrs. Hamer on a news broadcast leading a group of people in the chant 'eleven and eight, eleven and eight,' he called Senator Hubert Humphrey ... and barked, 'You tell that bastard goddamn lawyer friend of yours that there ain't gonna be all that eleven and eight shit at the convention.' ...He worried that excessive patronizing of the MFDP would cost him the entire southern vote." (Marsh)

Granted, I don't know much about that particular election. I don't know much about the politics of Johnson's opponent, Goldwater, although a quick Wiki glance tells me that he voted against the Civil Rights Act. But when I read of such tensions as that or hear about this or that president who was unwilling to stir the waters because, wait for it, he was hoping for re-election... I'm not very convinced that he should be re-elected.

Oh, perhaps he could do so much good in other areas if he were re-elected. But? If he's not willing to take a possibly controversial stance on something that matters, all because he doesn't want to sacrifice a successful bid for power, what sort of willpower will he bring to office? Will he ever accomplish anything worthwhile or will he merely seek to pander to the people?

And that's all I have to say about politics, because any moment now I expect Nathan to text me and tell me that I'm an ignorant child who knows nothing about real life. :)

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