Freedom Studies - Truckin’ to the Debate


Jon Reisman

I stayed up way past my usual bedtime to watch the Presidential debate and take in the reaction and the spin.  One good friend, aware of my angst over this election and the polarized state of the country, asked me as the debate concluded, “Were you impressed?” to which I responded, “Not with anyone there actually.” Perhaps that was a little (but only a little) bit unfair. They all actually exceeded my low expectations.

President Biden’s demeanor and wandering word salads were not a surprise, at least to me. He did manage not to display the anger and malignity that has accompanied his decline, but his decline cannot be denied or reversed, even by the best spin doctors and media manipulators, try as they may. He is not up to the job, and many Americans reached that conclusion as they went to bed. The chilling coda in the morning is that the leaders of China, Iran, Russia, and North Korea saw the same thing. 

Former President Trump was relatively restrained, disciplined, and focused. He made his case and reminded me of something I used to say about a former Governor- he is a barbarian, but he is our barbarian. He actually toned down the barbarian/chaos schtick some, but he remains a polarizing force. Perhaps his VEEP pick will ameliorate that somewhat.

CNN moderators Jake Tapper and Dana Bash were not transparent Democrat partisans, which was a marked improvement over Candy Crowley in the 2012 Obama/Romney debate and most of the legacy media since.

If the Big Guy remains the Democratic nominee, 538 political pundit/analyst/bookie Nate Silver makes Trump a 2-1 favorite. That as much as the debate optics disaster has led to the Democrat “Panic” over likely scenarios. 

In most likely scenario one, Biden runs and loses, with the Republicans winning both the House and Senate. It seems unlikely that Democrats can avoid Congressional collateral damage from a Biden loss. It might be a Golden opportunity.

In next most likely scenario two, Biden withdraws and the Democrats go into internecine intersectional warfare over Kamala Harris and identity politics.  Gender, race, and victim status are the dominant drivers of Democratic Party ideology and policy. Live by the oppressor/oppressed narrative sword, die by the oppressor/oppressed narrative sword. Call it the cultural Marxist theory of value.

With just over 4 months to the Presidential election, the country is deeply polarized over our problems, our leadership, and the policies we should follow. Both candidates are flawed, albeit in different ways. Neither candidate, in my opinion, is running a campaign that could or will unify the country. The stakes and passions are high, and black swan events, whether planned or providential, should be expected. 

Snippets of the Grateful Dead’s Truckin’ lyrics are haunting me here for some reason:

Truckin' - got my chips cashed in

Keep truckin’ - like the doodah man

Together - more or less in line

Just keep truckin’ on


Arrows of neon and flashing marquees out on Main Street

Chicago, New York, Detroit it's all on the same street

Your typical city involved in a typical daydream

Hang it up and see what tomorrow brings


Dallas - got a soft machine

Houston - too close to New Orleans

New York - got the ways and means

but just won't let you be….

…Truckin', like the do-dah man

Once told me "You've got to play your hand"

Sometimes the cards ain't worth a dime

If you don't lay'em down….

….Sometimes the light's all shining on me

Other times I can barely see

Lately, it occurs to me

What a long strange trip it's been

What in the world ever became of sweet Jane?

She lost her sparkle, you know she isn't the same

Living on reds, vitamin C and cocaine

all a friend can say is "ain't it a shame"….

….Sitting and staring out of a hotel window

Got a tip they're gonna kick the door in again

I'd like to get some sleep before I travel

but if you got a warrant I guess you're gonna come in…..

Truckin’ on you tube:

Jon Reisman is an economist and policy analyst who retired from the University of Maine at Machias after 38 years. He resides on Cathance Lake in Cooper, where he is a Selectman and a Statler and Waldorf intern. Mr. Reisman’s views are his own, and he welcomes comments as letters to the editor here or to him directly via email at [email protected].

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