Politics, The Art Of The Possible

by Kevin Burton

     The first time I became aware of the phrase “the art of the possible” was in connection with the Evita soundtrack. 

   I thought wow, what a great phrase to sum up the cynical exploitation of events to get one’s way. 

   “By any means necessary” comes close to saying the same thing.  It arrives in the same place. But “the art of the possible” speaks more to being crafty, cultivating alliances that are useful at the time, ditching those alliances when it is expedient.

   You make it up as you go along, then you sell it. You sell it with words if you can. That’s much tidier. You use other means if you have to.

   Evita tells the story of the fame and influence of Eva Peron, the wife of Argentine dictator Juan Peron. The musical also tells the story of Peron’s rise to power. His early days in power were equal parts charm and repression.  “The Art of the Possible” is the title to one of the songs.  

   Sample lyric, “One has no rules, is not precise. One rarely acts the same way twice. One spurns no device, practicing the art of the possible.”

   The musical was released in 1976.  The art of the possible of course has been practiced all down through the centuries.

   The art of the possible is a concept you should keep in mind as you watch the 2020 American presidential election play out.  My take? By all accounts the support for those wanting to continue the democracy and those wanting to enter into dictatorship are close enough that political dirty tricks can easily be a huge factor in the outcome.

   Results obtained through those tricks will be plausible to the credulous and not so outlandish they can be dismissed out of hand. Most of the number will be close. It will take some doing to arrive at the truth.

   Just as I could never have predicted that Russian elements would help sway the 2016 election, I have no way of predicting the precise means of the deception.

   The Huffington Post on Monday reported one strategy of the current president will be to not count lawful votes that come in after election day, including those of military personnel overseas.

   “He’s been laying the groundwork for this for months,” Daniel Goldman told The Post. Goldman is a former federal prosecutor and the lead lawyer for House Democrats during Trump’s impeachment over his extortion of Ukraine to help his reelection bid.

   Today was supposed to be the day we got rid of Hillary Clinton.  She was supposed to be a four-year necessity that a nation would endure, holding its nose all the way, to avoid turning power over to a Peron-like American czar wannabe. 

   Having passed on that option and done the unthinkable, there is now no amount of nose holding that can get the United States easily through the current constitutional crisis. 

   The Jamestown Post-Journal from New York on Saturday printed an obituary of sorts for the American middle, that band of “swing voters” that used to determine the outcome of close elections. 

   “If one thing has become clear during this election year it is that the center in US politics has all but disappeared,” said Gavin MacFadyen, a writer and lawyer.

   “It’s been said that politics is a blood sport but never before has the rabid and blind passion of the sports fanatic manifested itself so acutely in the political arena,“ MacFadyen said.

   “The center, long the safe landing spot eventually adopted by so many politicians, is no longer there. Far from being a solid and stable place from which to govern, it is instead the hole in the doughnut, recognizable only by its absence and made up of nothing but empty space.”

   Discourse? Debate? Nuance?  These are not present in today’s political climate. MacFadyen’s diagnosis is on target. But here we are on election day, ready or not.

   How did we go from being “the land of the free and the home of the brave,” to being “the land of the brainwashed and the home of the entitled?”

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