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Politics at Dinner Parties in 2020

Posted on Wednesday, Nov 27th 2019

We have a lot of dinner parties. 

Our circle of friends is quite broad and all political views are represented in our midst. Far right. Far left. And everything in between. 

Diversity of political views, it seems, is a difficult dynamic to manage in social groups. We’ve experienced people leaving the table upset, even storming out of dinner parties.

We are bracing ourselves for 2020.

Emotions are running high in today’s America. Even within our relatively homogenous milieu of the highly educated, successful intellectuals, the level of fanaticism is high. This includes fanaticism of the LIberals. Fanaticism of the Conservatives. Fanaticism of the Caviar Gauche. Fanaticism of the Libertarians. 

We, my husband and I, are centrist independents with fiscally conservative, socially liberal viewpoints. 

We don’t believe that government should go away. Infrastructure needs to be built and maintained. Safety Nets need to be provided for the weak, especially in an age of automation that is making even mid-level workers redundant, let alone the ones at the bottom of the economic pyramid. [Please read: Man and Superman]

However, welfare needs to be affordable, and should not bankrupt countries.

We also believe that politics is not a domain in which we would be making any significant contribution in 2020. So armchair wrestling on politics is not a game we particularly care to destroy friendships over.  

I have chosen to work on a big problem: reconfiguring Capitalism. Many thinkers like Marc Benioff are declaring Capitalism dead. I think Marc is wrong. Capitalism – Conscious Capitalism – Distributed, Democratic, Inclusive Capitalism – is still the best economic framework for our society. I’d rather work on this problem and continue to make a difference than debate political fanatics who defend half-baked ideas, on the left, and on the right.

At present, this is where I stand:

  1. I would love to see Michael Bloomberg be the President of the United States and restore sanity to world affairs.
  2. The international world order is based on responsible collaboration among nations. We’re experiencing a dramatic undermining of such institutions. This is dangerous.
  3. I am an unapologetic elitist and believe that countries should be run by educated people with serious intellectual horsepower with which they can understand and strategize on serious issues. Lightweights like Trump and Biden don’t impress me. Macron does.
  4. Basic Arithmetic is an essential skill in a serious candidate. Unsustainable spending programs irritate me very much. Elizabeth Warren disqualifies herself by failing this test.
  5. Billionaire bashing is nonsense. However, billionaires need to be responsible. Making large-scale Philanthropy attractive is better policy than punitive wealth taxes. Warren talks a lot of nonsense on this subject.
  6. Mature Economies need to strive for Universal Health Care. How to make the numbers work is a challenge for serious thinkers, not lightweights vying for soundbites.
  7. The vast majority of populations are uneducated and ill-equipped to make sound choices. Free will is all very well, except when inadvertently, it causes people to drive off the cliff. Brexit, on this topic, is exhibit A.
  8. Lastly, we value decency tremendously. America has elected presidents who simply do not pass the decency test. We hope 2020 gives us reason to feel better on this score.

As you can tell from the tone of my post, I am rather irritated. 

Too many tempests are brewing in social teapots at the moment. At my parties, I don’t want to deal with these.

We take great care to prepare excellent food. We take hospitality very seriously. If you come to our house, please focus on being a good guest, and not disrupt the ambience by insisting on political wrestling. We are all intelligent human beings around the table. Even without politics, we can easily have a wonderful 3-4 hours. If you insist on discussing politics, please do so with civility.

For hosts, if you share my predicament, my advice is to request your guests to respect the same embargo.

Photo credit: Jerry Huddleston/Flickr.com

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