Alan Zendell, July 16, 2022
It’s often been said of how diplomacy works that the only thing worse is having none at all; in that event, all international disputes could erupt into armed conflicts. Every nation, including the United States postures high ideals in public while negotiating differences entirely based on pragmatism. Sometimes, pragmatism and idealism overlap, as in the case of NATO and the European Union coming together to defend Ukraine against Russian aggression – at least for now. That example illustrates the difficulty diplomacy always faces, as the self-interests of the nations united for a common purpose often conflict for entirely justifiable reasons.
A similar interplay of national interests and diplomacy was out front for the world to see this week when President Biden visited the Middle East. Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid put on an admirable and almost convincing show of unity, despite strongly disagreeing on two critical points: the American diplomatic stance on a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians, and when the use of military force to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons would be justified.
Biden’s visit to Saudi Arabia was fraught with even more important divisions, as Biden had previously criticized what he believes are the Kingdom’s human rights violations, specifically the alleged involvement of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. On the other hand, it’s clear that Biden needs the Kingdom’s cooperation in increasing the supply of oil and its support for renewing the Iran nuclear deal which even the U. S. Senate has not committed to doing. It’s much like the old saw about making sausage.
Complaints about the reality of how diplomacy works also apply to politics. Politics is a dirty, messy business that most of us hate, but where would we be without it? Current divisions in our country and the gridlock in our Congress make us wonder if politics will ever be able to resolve our internal differences. It would be naïve to assume politics will solve our problems. If that were true there would never have been a Civil War, and the differences between ultra-capitalists and progressives would not have resulted in the Great Depression.
The situation is not helped by Donald Trump and his allies who openly promote divisiveness, white supremacy, and a disingenuous brand of Christian evangelism. It is not helped by a Supreme Court that has the lost the confidence of a large majority of Americans or of extremist politicians who put their own greed and lust for power ahead of what is best for the country. It’s easy to blame Republicans for allowing Trump to dominate their party and to accuse the other fifteen 2016 presidential candidates of letting their personal self-interest prevent them from uniting against what they all knew might destroy their party and their country, but Democrats must share the blame, along with social media giants like Facebook who put their own interests ahead of responsibly managing their content. For that matter, millions of Americans who prefer swallowing whole what they read on the Internet to thinking for themselves have landed us where we are today.
Where we are today is not a pretty place. The Republican Party is waging a self-destructive civil war while Democrats seem unable to get out of their own way. The only thing that unites them is their terror of losing control of both houses of Congress next November. They posture that possibility as an existential fight for the future of the country, yet they behave no better than their opponents. They lambast Trump for raising hundreds of millions of dollars by lying to his supporters as they decry the frighteningly successful efforts of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to stack the courts with extremist right-wing judges. But what have they done in response?
Rather than mount an effective, unified campaign to re-educate voters, they relentlessly beg for money, equally as shamelessly as Trump. They don’t realize that the fastest way to alienate their own supporters is to reward them for donating to their cause by continuously asking for more while showing no evidence that they have any idea how to use the money they raise effectively. If, like me, you have ever donated money to a Democrat running for office, you’re bombarded hourly by fundraising emails from something called DGA, which I assumed was the Democratic Governor’s Association. But there’s also a PAC called DGA, and neither group goes out of its way to disassociate itself from the other. I checked the website Open Secrets, which reports that as of three weeks ago, not a single penny was donated to any candidate running for office by the DGA PAC.
From here, it all smells like rotting fish. My advice is that if you want to support a particular candidate financially, ignore these ambiguous pleas and send your money directly to that candidate. It’s a sad fact that our politics is entirely driven by money. Make sure yours goes where you intended it to.