By David Horn

Horn is a retired engineer living at Smith Mountain Lake.

There has been a lot discussion around the subject of the new politics, but no one has directly addressed it as such. There’s a lot to unwind here, so I’ve made a list that may be worth pondering before we all go to vote in the fall and 2020. While I don’t claim this is a definitive list by any means, here are my musings for now in no special order:

n The end of the economy as we know it. Whatever else we can say, it’s now blatantly obvious that the economy is not going to return to anything resembling the form it held in the post-war era. Sure, the titans of the universe swear that they’re going to lead their economic behemoths in new more people-friendly ways, but are they serious or simply cynical in the extreme. In any case, how can they reverse the irreversible march toward automating away the productive work we all have assumed is the basis for a good and valuable life?

n Populism and the new political alignments. This is now a worldwide phenomenon, one that didn’t really start in the U.S. but is now driven by the Trump Presidency. The realignment is in full force, and seems to be the know nothings versus the know-it-alls. Is this even viable over more than the short term, with both groups encompassing widely diverse belief systems? And what happens to the obvious disconnect between the 0.1% and the rest of us, as that group of rare-air breathers also splits between the camps?

n Religion and tyranny. Here’s a topic that still baffles me: How can the religiously committed be so firmly in the right-wing populist corner? We’ve seen Trump, but what about other populists, like Bolsonaro in Brazil, Duterte in the Philippines or Erdogan in Turkey? How does the belief in feeding the hungry and lifting-up the poor align with autocrats and oligarchs? Color me baffled.

n The total lack of vision. Without pushing this too far, I can’t see any political person or group that has a real vision of a viable future and a plan to get there, no matter how flimsy. Everything is reduced to the next election, in democratic countries, and to a new stasis in the autocratic ones. It’s as if nothing that is happening is expected to have any impact on politics for longer than next political cycle. Nothing! Which brings me to my last topic.

n Rising war tensions and global climate change. We all have been acting like these potential society-ending processes are either not happening at all, or are so easily managed that they can be ignored until sometime in the not-too-immediate future when we’re less engaged in whatever it is that’s personally important at the moment.

This is irresponsible in the extreme, but voters seem totally disengaged. Politicians who are engaged are marginalized.


Every rare once in a while, an era arrives that is transformational. We’re in one now. Life is going to change regardless, so let’s not blow it.

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