Santa Claus ain’t real. Nobody from Hogwarts is going to show up with a spell to cure what ails us. Captain Kirk will not be whooshing in on the Enterprise to make peace on the planet.
Millions of American voters seem to think one person can save the nation: defeat terrorism, bring our soldiers home, resuscitate dead industries, make us all rich, repair every rickety bridge and pot-holey road, solve climate change, get the lion to lie down with the lamb, and clear up that acne.
Last week at the Republican Convention last week, Donald Trump told the nation “I alone can fix it.” America, he means. This week at the Democratic Convention, Sandersnistas threw tantrums because their guy – who would give us free college and whip Wall Street – lost to Hillary Clinton.
Yes, lost. The nomination contest wasn’t stolen. It wasn’t rigged. Here’s the great Sarah Silverman, a Sanders supporter, Monday night: “Can I just say to the ‘Bernie-or-bust’ people, you’re being ridiculous.”
The Democratic National Committee’s obvious support of Hillary Clinton during the primaries was wrong. Moreover, their emails reveal serious bias – but not criminality. Not fraud.
There was no conspiracy to rob Bernie of his rightful votes. No DNC Illuminati meeting in candlelit rooms plotting his downfall. No Clinton Freemasonry.
It was just what you’d expect when a longtime Democrat’s primary opponent had only been a professed member of the party for about five minutes. You want the support of Democratic Party brass? Be a Democrat.
This is how party politics works. There’s a contest: somebody wins and somebody loses.
Yet a number of Sanders supporters pitched hissy fits as if the nation had just perversely rejected its one true savior. They walked out, booed, hollered “Lock her up!” (really?) and protested, announcing that they intended to vote for the Green Party or not vote at all or even vote for Donald Trump.
Which would add to America’s problems. Thanks, y’all.
For conservatives, everything’s good or bad, for us or against us. The Trumpsters not only assume that their candidate will ride into the White House on a bed of caviar and gold leaf, unite the nation, and stare down any dirty foreigner who dares challenge him, but do it single-handedly.
As if the Constitution, Congress, K-Street, the Supreme Court, state governments, international finance, treaties, and alliances did not even exist.
Progressives usually acknowledge the complexity of the world and know that no one person can ever be the answer to all our issues. But too many act like Bernie Sanders is some kind of wizard, some Brooklyn-born Gandalf, who will somehow rid American politics of big money influence and banish inequality. Single-handedly.
See the Constitution, Congress, K-Street, the Supreme Court, etc., above.
Looking to one man (emphasis on the word MAN) as The Answer, is not democracy. It’s magical thinking. Fairy-tale fascism.
Bernie Sanders certainly never wanted to be a dictator. He does not feel the need to crush his “enemies:” Trump is still going around insulting Sen. Ted Cruz, his nearest rival and Jeb Bush, who dropped out of the race months ago. To Sen. Sanders’s credit, he not only called last night for Hillary Clinton to become the nominee by acclamation, but he will also be out campaigning for her.
That’s grace. But some of Sen. Sanders’s acolytes act as though without his super powers, nothing positive can happen in this nation. They’ll take their whiffle ball and go home.
Then there’s Trump. He seems to want to be a strongman like Putin. Or Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey. Someone who quashes the free press (remember Trump said he wants to “open up” libel laws to destroy media he doesn’t like), threatens war, and doesn’t care that we need the goodwill of other nations.
Governing is a process. Good things can happen, but they don’t happen overnight. Or because of one person. Some Americans may long for an all-powerful, butt-kicking guy to waste our foes and Save the World, but nothing is ever that simple.
We need to grow up. Life isn’t a movie.
Diane Roberts’s book “Tribal: College Football and the Secret Heart of America” will be out in paperback this fall. She teaches at FSU.