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Call to Political Fortune Tellers

Medium is full of political fortune tellers. We have all sorts of self-proclaimed experts willing to spend hours and hours crafting articles and responses for what the politicians should be doing or should have done. I am guilty!

Here are two questions we should be asking ourselves:

1) “Why do we spend those hours and hours pontificating and postulating—especially when Medium is more or less an anti-Trump echo chamber? In other words, our musings will likely not have any effect on anyone else’s voting intentions.

2) When we are found to be wrong, why do we continue with more political fortune telling—as if we were always right?

For instance, I was one of the earlier pundits realizing that Mr. Trump might win the presidency in 2016. My hypothesis was that the Republicans had failed to relegate him to a low place early in the Republican primaries. “Something is up that most people do not understand,” I thought. Well, I didn’t understand either; but I could see unknown political forces were shaping up for him to win the primary and later the presidency race—when just about everyone else believed a buffoon would never win.

Another successful prediction of mine was that Mr. Trump would bring his controversial style—which we saw in his publicized personal life, the Republican primaries, and the presidential election—into the White House. That was an easy call, so I won’t take much credit here.

But here is where I failed. I had thought that, with time, Mr. Trump’s controversial style would eventually tire enough of his base to make him an obvious one-term-wonder president. WRONG, WRONG, WRONG, I was. Did I mention that I was WRONG?

A few months back, I had a Medium discussion with a Medium fortune teller. I said that if Mr. Biden won the Democratic primary, Mr. Trump would make mincemeat out of him in the election campaign. My argument was that Mr. Trump could bring up Hunter Biden and the cushy job his father got for him—over and over and over again. Mr. Trump would thoroughly enjoy telling that story in the campaign mostly because it helps Mr. Trump distract his base from other more important issues. Concurrently, he is rattling the psyche of the soft D support with such railings. Many of them will deem Mr. Biden not worthy of the effort to make a trip to the voting station. Two or three million votes lost in that way in a close election, and it becomes a victory for Mr. Trump. My colleague’s response: “Well, Mr. Biden is not going to win the Democratic primary.” Do I sense any humility from this Medium contributor? Not really, he is still political fortune telling on Medium.

Just think of all the hours and hours we put into political fortune telling in the last year. Yep, we are so smart. We could see the future: if Mr. Trump does this, then . . .; if the Senate does this, then . . .; if Mr. Sanders does this, then . . .. Yep we had it all figured out, didn’t we?

Then came Covid-19. It threw all those predictions out the window. All those hours and hours for nothing. Now we’ll spend hours and hours concocting more fortune telling with Covid-19 as a major player, won’t we?

Here’s my take. NOBODY KNOWS the psyche of the soft Republican supporters and the psyche of the soft Democrat supporters. Who is more likely to go to the polls in November? Oh yes, all those with strong opinions and partisan loyalty will find their way to vote. But what about all those Americans who don’t take politics so seriously? Yes, they want to do their civic duty to cast a vote for their preference. But will they want to be in a line with coughers and wheezers in the middle of a pandemic? That is how the election will be decided. If we don’t try to understand the soft support, the hours and hours and hours we will spend analyzing the election will be in grave error.

And then maybe, just maybe, a week before the election, the director of the FBI or some other agency will release some damning “information” about Mr. Trump or Mr. Biden, causing 2 million among their soft support to disappear on voting day. That throws out our post-Covid-19 predictions out the window.

But some Medium contributors will still try to fortune tell. They will continue to speculate and congratulate themselves for their thorough analysis even before it has a chance to prove its rightness or wrongness. And then, whether right or wrong, they will gather for another round of political fortune telling. Hours and hours and hours. And they will still ignore the effects of the soft support.

So why do we continue to engage in this very futile endeavor of political fortune telling?

My wife and I like watching videos of Andy Stanley. He’s an evangelical preacher from Atlanta. He has an interesting way to couple the Scriptures with real-life situations such that even a non-Christian like me can learn a few useful things. Here is his take on political fortune telling: it is a sign of fear. That’s when a light was lit in my head.

Because politics can be very unpredictable—and we want a sense of control—we resort to fortune telling to convince us there is some master plan out there that is unfolding. And the best part is only the wisest of us can see the signs of that plan. So our fortune telling comforts us that we know the future AND how smart we really are to know that future. A DOUBLE HIT FOR OUR EGO!

So for a short time after we make our incantation, we are relieved of our fear and awed at our brilliance. Whether it is on Medium or in a coffee shop with our buddies or watching our favorite 24/7 news channel, we feel the world is in control of itself when we concoct or hear the right kind of fortunes. And damn, are we ever smart to see the signs!

A little time later, our predictions fall apart. Rather than analyze why we were so wrong, we just concoct another future: our fears are relieved again and our brilliance is out there for all to see. ANOTHER DOUBLE HIT! That is certainly better than admitting we were wrong! It’s not so hard to understand where the term “political junkie” comes from, is it?

Political fortune tellers may argue that they are playing an important part of democracy. All these discussions eventually force the politicians to our way of thinking, right? Or at least the politicians know there is some resistance if they step too far out of line, right? Or maybe we can influence five or 50 people to change their voting intention, right? So all those hours and hours of political fortune telling are worth it, right?

But what we are really after is that hit when we seem to know the future! That’s why we keep at this futile task.

I am a reformed political junkie. I have to say that I still enjoy my hits from my political fortune telling. It is fun to speculate. But I have another mission, and fortune telling helps open doors for me to discuss that mission. I’ll just open that door right now.

I have solution for the dysfunctional mess we call western democracy. That solution is called Tiered Democratic Governance (TDG).

But the TDG movement will require time and effort from average people. The good point is that it needs only about 1% of the population to start things off. And this 1% needs only spend about 10 hours a month on this project. So there really is no reason that the TDG cannot be built—when we have so many people spending hours and hours and hours on political fortune telling.

If there was some way I could have taken 1% of those hours and hours and hours spent on political fortune telling across the USA and given those hours toward the TDG, the TDG would have been built 10 years ago. Mr. Trump would not have acquired his high political position; Covid-19 would not be a significant factor in the elections; Covid-19 would have been handled a lot better.

Aren’t these the end results many of you Medium readers would like?

Or is your addiction to political fortune telling more important than results?

Think about that!

— — —

I’ve been working on this project for 23 years. I’m on my fifth incantation to get the world interested in this new democracy. I’m still an echo chamber of one.

This fifth attempt is a novel about average Americans building this new democracy. It is a more friendly approach to teach the world about the TDG than my quasi-academic book. I officially launched the novel in mid-April:

Diary of a Future Politician: How an Average American Saves America

It takes about four hours to read this book. Let’s say you have four spare hours for this week:

Do you put these four hours into crafting more political fortune telling, knowing full well that your predictions might not come true? And not much will be changed even if your predictions are true?

Or do you spend those four hours reading this novel to come to a better understanding of this new democracy? Your reading just might inspire you to help build this system—and change the world for the better.

So where do your four hours go?

If you are a religious person, could you tell St. Peter that it was more important to write another anti-Trump article than to read Dave’s book?

As I said earlier, I am a reformed political junkie. But I have a TDG mission. When Medium proves not able to help this mission, I shall leave Medium. My project then goes back on the shelf to collect dust, probably for another five years. I have another life project to pursue.

If I do leave, I am confident I can comfortably put my political fortune telling aside. It really is a waste of time.

How about you? Can you really put your political fortune telling aside?

January 2022 Addendum: While I was wrong about Hunter Biden affecting the election, the Republicans did try hard to make it an issue. The story just did not stick. Politics is so unpredictable. 

Published on Medium 2020

The Unfortunate Necessity of Fear Mongering

Anti-Trumpers: Be careful of what you wish for.