Election 2020: Voting for a Government.2

My late night/morning conversation with Parisian friend, Michel continues (to pick up the earlier conversation see Medium post, “Election 2020: Voting for Government,” October 1)

Me: Let’s get back to your idea that maybe for the first time with this election American voters are voting for “a government.”

Michel: Yes. The American press is warning the world that America is on the brink of losing its “soul,” ceasing to be a democracy, is experiencing a constitutional crisis.

Let’s look at this another way. What is the opposite political idea to democracy, “anti-democracy?”

Me: Authoritarianism?

Michel: Exactly. Authoritarianism, fascism. Fascists need a conspiracy. Think about the 1933 Reichstadt Fire. Something has to be going on all the time to trap and capture the public imagination. Some distraction, some “shiny object.”

Me: Go on.

Michel: Never a mirror. Mirrors reflect the viewer, or the “poseur.”.

Me: What?

Michel: Reflection is anathema to fascists. I was amused by a reporter on one of your cable TV newscasts who was accosted by a non-mask wearer at a Trump Rally. Shouting at the reporter who was masked, the. Trump supporter screamed, “look at you, you’re disgusting!” This is a blatant attempt to subvert the reflection process by shaming the reporter for taking a public precaution..PUBLIC. For fascist enablers and followers there is no space for notions of PUBLIC or polity. This Trump follower exhibited disdain for reflection.

Me: But what does this have to do with voting for a government?

Michel: Follow me here. To move on past the cult of personality to reflect on where a people, a public is at, what the challenges are… this is what I mean when I say the task at hand for American voter(s) is to vote for a government. It requires discipline, maturity.

Me: I’m listening.

Michel: In France we understand Bernie Sanders who was the first candidate to say, “It’s not about me, it’s about you (us).” This statement for most Americans I think represents a departure from American individualism. Actually it doesn’t but that’s another conversation.

Me: I think I am beginning to understand. So you’re saying that it takes imagination to move past the “cult of personality.”

Michel: Oui! And a government which abets the process of, enables active reflection, is a government which places a value on civility. To build a democracy you need space for imagination. Something I would add France is not terribly good at.

Me: Excuse me but you seem to know A LOT about America. Are the French all that much better at reflection?

Michel: Speaking for my friends who tolerate America’s excesses, even now, we need America. Remember Lafayette? His shining moment was helping build America. We have. — as you Americans like to say — France has “skin in the game.”

Me: And the names on the ballot, what do they tell us?

Michel: Now you’re onto it. But Gregoire is pestering me. Talk later?

Me: Yes.

October 2, 2020

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Rodney Clough

Rodney Clough

Refuses to nap. Septuagenarian. Cliche’ raker. Writes weekly.