For What It’s Worth
Podcast — Issues for the midterms
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Music: Buffalo Springfield, “For What It’s Worth”
It’s The William Tell Show. I call myself William Tell; you can call me Bill. Thank you for including me in your world; I just love to be included.
The general election is coming up November 8th.
I have a new hobby, as of a couple months ago,
filling out surveys online. I’m on a couple platforms,
and they pay me a nickel or a quarter for each one.
It’s no way to make money, but it’s fun to answer questions and tell people what I think.
Some of them are not for people my age;
some of them only want Latinos or gays;
some of them only want people who own stocks.
Some of them will ask you in exhaustive detail about exactly how you get food from fast food restaurants.
The political ones may ask in detail about my voting record, going back to 2018. They will also ask me to identify the most important issue facing the nation,
from immigration to the war in Ukraine to women’s rights. They may offer a couple dozen choices.
I don’t like the question, and find it hard to answer,
but I have consistently answered that economic concerns, especially inflation, are the foremost issue. And in my evening prayer time the other night, I decided that that’s right. It doesn’t affect me personally; I’m homeless, and the only things I pay for are coffee and smokes.
But it’s what my Friends on FaceBook complain about;
they complain about exactly that, food and gas prices,
and I’d have to be either blind or extremely callous
not to feel that.
But that’s not what I see in the national discourse.
For the midterms, people aren’t asking what’s most crucial for the nation, but rather what issues either side should raise up to either keep or flip control of Congress.
And that seems to me to be a big mistake. On the one hand, what voters in Texas regard as the most crucial issue won’t be the same as for voters in New Hampshire. Only 33 Senate seats are involved in this election, and it’s a question of what the voters see as most important in those states, and particularly where the incumbent is retiring or vulnerable. The parties are, no doubt, looking at those questions.
But the news media are only asking about what the parties choose to talk about nationally. And it seems to me that national issues shouldn’t be determinant of which party, or which candidate, one votes for, in one’s state.
The Maryland governor’s race provides a handy example, though again, here, national issues aren’t all that pertinent. But anyone who can’t see that, as a man, Wes Moore is far preferable to Dan Cox, as a man — that’s the crucial insight, in that race, irrespective of party.
Let’s take a break.
The music that came to me for today is a song I’ve really never liked. It’s “For What It’s Worth,” by Buffalo Springfield; came out, I guess, in 1966.
It’s about the social turmoil of those times, and I guess one reason I don’t like it is that it doesn’t take any clear position. It’s also really monotonous.
But it includes a couple passages that apply easily to our politics today. It says at one point,
“Nobody’s right when everybody’s wrong.”
At another point, it says,
“A thousand people in the street
Singing songs and carrying signs,
Mostly sayin’, ‘Hooray for our side.’”
And that’s what I see happening politically right now. The left and the right are both shouting, “Hooray for our side,” rather than asking what’s best for everyone.
In 1966, I was eleven years old. The social turmoil of the 1960s and 1970s was worse than anything I have ever seen since then. There’s talk of domestic terrorism in America today; I haven’t seen it. In those days, we had real domestic terrorists. There were these people who called themselves the Weather Underground, going around setting off bombs, actual bombs, at universities. That was just the tip of the iceberg.
As I said at the beginning, I have always disliked this song. That can’t be helped. By the same token, many people dislike the results of the 2020 Presidential election. That can’t be helped, either.
The facts are what they are.