First we vote (and count)

Imagine stories around a campfire…

a mystical möbius – curating facts, ideas, text, and media to create a digital space around a safe, cozy, yet rather eclectic virtual campfire. My hope is to render an adequate sketch of history (a rough first-draft). 

Image by Prettysleepy || CC0

V O T E !   L A S T   C A L L



Who will trend?

Millions and millions of early and absentee votes have already been cast all across the United States of America. On Tuesday we will observe the official voting day for this crucially important 2020 election cycle.

Fortunately, having state-run elections is good in that it widely distributes election security. However, on the downside, having so many different voting systems means getting a final tally often takes time. Vote counting is a process that, according to local statutes, may extend days and even weeks past voting day. Each state has it’s own mandated protocols, including time lines, for officially certifying the election results. It is probably prudent to expect the official result will come later on and to prepare ourselves to be patient as the process unfolds. 

Complicating voting day itself is the president’s very public calls for volunteers from his MAGA support base to monitor polling places. This is inappropriate (and illegal if meant to intimidate voters) even if the volunteers are not militiamen dressed in camouflaged military kit and bearing semi-automatic long guns. We can all hope that such obvious voter suppression is not a feature of Tuesday’s election activities. 



Monkey wrench in the works

Actually, I feel it is very fair to say that the president has tried in as many ways as possible to gum-up the works of this election; e.g., “stand back and stand by.” The president has shown little evidence that he would even be capable of accepting a defeat at the polls with any degree of grace or dignity. The Atlantic author, Barton Gellman, who wrote a fairly dystopian view of how this election might go (“The Election That Could Break America“), bases his argument on the axiom that the president will NEVER concede defeat. The president is already on the record in several instances saying that the only possible way he could lose is if the election were rigged and stolen. If the votes do not go the president’s way, then, as Gellman reports, an army of lawyers is staged and ready to go on the attack. 

Despite these hard truths, I do feel our system has the resilience to survive this election and a one-term Trump presidency. Cleaning up the mess that’s been left, however, will be no mean feat.


Image by Gerd Altmann || CC0

Not to worry

Huston Smith always liked to say, “We do well to trust the fact that we are in good hands.”

True, true.

Now, that does not mean, however, that we are not participants. We all have crucial roles to play. We are co-creators with G-d. I’ve noticed it’s our part of the bargain that perennially falls short. Still, ours is to respond to the life conditions that we face, and do so with faith and grace. Ours is to pray “your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,” and act to make it so as best we are able in any given circumstance. Right now, ours is to vote and follow-up with care to make sure that authorities see to it that the election is administered fairly. 

A poorly set table (read: a dumpster fire)


Image by Gerd Altmann || CC0

Squandered opportunity is the administration’s theme regarding Covid-19. I’ve written here previously that, in Spiral Dynamics terms, the best responses that we have to the coronavirus are expressions of the Green [FS] values algorithm-generator. In short, this means the best approaches for dealing well with Covid-19 are collaborative. These (Green) communal responses require widespread buy-in and voluntary cooperation. Both masks and vaccines are (FS) community strategies that demand near universal participation from all Americans in order to work effectively on a public health problem as difficult as a novel coronavirus pandemic. A video embedded [click link below then, after viewing video, click your back button to return here] in this Washington Post story recounts the forty times that President Trump has said (so far) the coronavirus is simply going to go away:

Those repeated “going away” claims seriously aggravate society’s pandemic fatigue, another very significant challenge to an effective U.S. response going forward. 


Image by Steve Buissinne || CC0

Giving up is easier

In last week’s a mystical möbius piece (“The three hardest words“) I pointed to the sad and sorry reality that the president has finally settled on an overtly cynical, social Darwinist approach to Covid-19 (e.g., “herd mentality”—the president’s cynicism exposed in a Jungian- slip).  Truth be told, the president’s entire transactional schtick turns on social Darwinism. It’s why he sees every person in terms of winners and losers—and why some countries are s#1+holes in his sight. President Trump was taught by his father, and by Roy Cohn, that life is strictly binary with no room for any empathy or compassion whatsoever, e.g., eat or be eaten. The pandemic simply brings the president’s extreme cynicism into stark relief. Chiaroscuro, so to speak.


Image by Tumisu || CC0

In plain sight

This week evidenced a good bit more of the president’s cynical social Darwinist campaign. He and his spokespeople were busy making the claim that the president and first lady have overcome Covid-19 and you can, too. On the Trump campaign’s guidance, as the president implies, MAGA loyalists need have no concern for the pandemic. The counsel is it’s time to immediately return to pre-covid living. We are all to pay the coronavirus no mind. Well, except for those poor souls who draw the short straw and have a horrific acute, dreadful long-haul, or even a fatal experience of Covid-19.  I note that the twenty-four hour period that ran from Thursday to Friday saw nearly 100,000 new cases, and almost one thousand deaths resulting directly from Covid-19. At the same time Donald Trump, Jr. was declaring on Fox News that the death count was almost nothing. Morally bankrupt as well as empathy and compassion deficient. Like father, like son.


Image by Nathan Dumlao || CC0

Hopefully not too late

It pains me to say this because I know that it is not even a little bit optimistic, but the Covid-19 response has been an epic fail and, worse, has made finding a way forward even harder. The president has made it very difficult (if not impossible) for anyone to lead us out of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The president’s instinct has been correct about one thing, though, mandates with punitive enforcement will not work. Our present difficulty is aggravated by the fact that the president’s failed leadership has poisoned the well, so to speak.

I feel it is still possible to do what ought to have been done all along, e.g., make defeating the Covid-19 Sars-2 coronavirus a (Yellow)[AN] designed Blue [DQ] superordinate goal for America in 2021. Given the way that the president has squandered this opportunity, at this point it will not be easy establishing this metagoal. However, Americans have done many things that were not easy before, and this challenge has the potential to help us rise above our polarization, and in our shared problem, to find our common identity as (American) humans. 

I feel the way forward is one of public health mandates that are driven by trustworthy public health information and not with punitive enforcement. Let’s use Spiral Dynamics to unpack that a little bit.

What is unavoidably necessary…

I’ve written previously in the blog about the seemingly conflicting values that help in driving the difficulty we are presently experiencing with respect to coming to grips with, and getting past, the pandemic. Scientific values—e.g., algorithms like rationality, scientific method, etc.—(Orange [ER]) animate the medical and public health aspects of the pandemic. Similarly, capitalistic values (also Orange [ER]) drive the economic aspects of the pandemic. As expressions of Orange values, these two facets of the pandemic problem are vectored and treated through an individualistic paradigm—AN, CP, ER algorithm generators vector the express self half of the spiral dynamic and generate memes that correspond to individuals. Even if all parties agree on the ER findings/recommendations from both problem areas (e.g., health and economics), the difficult part still awaits. Namely, how do we go about following the Orange findings/recommendations that we receive? How do we effectively apply what we know/learn?

Both a ‘me’ and a ‘we’ problem



A Covid-19 pandemic is both an individual and community problem. Individuals are profoundly effected by the coronavirus pandemic and yet, on their own, do not have the means to confront and defeat the deadly pandemic. Even a very innovative Orange [ER] solution requires a very solid execution within the relevant community. In the U.S.A. the difficulty of the execution problem is a function of the expression of two different value systems. 

Spiral Dynamics is the dance of both individualistic (express self) paradigms—AN, CP, ER algorithm generators—and community (sacrifice self) paradigms—BO, DQ, FS algorithm generators. A chief American difficulty right now is dueling algorithms. Whereas, in China the authorities are easily able to invoke very strict Blue [DQ] control measures (e.g., authoritarian conformity approaches) to effect public health mandates, in the U.S. the society is divided (DQ versus FS) on community approaches. This takes form in four basic expressions. While many Americans are fine with a strong “law and order” (Blue) enforced-conformity, many others are not. So, those who find DQ lacking, prefer a Green [FS] collaborative community approach. Thus, some Americans are OK with public health mandates but prefer either a strong Blue conformity approach or a Green collaborative approach to policy. Other Americans deny the problem or feel that mandates just won’t work, and, therefore, are either simply ignoring the coronavirus and mandates or rejecting both authoritarian and collaborative community approaches. Ultimately, we will need to employ public health mandates that are animated by consistently top quality information and effective messaging, not punitive enforcement.

Consistency the necessary prescription

While mindful that this is a story of our evolving understanding of a novel coronavirus, messaging must consistently reinforce the fact that the fastest way back to “normal” is collaborative compliance with public health protocols like keeping our distance, wearing masks, avoiding large & indoor gatherings, washing our hands, and getting vaccinated when safe vaccinations become available. Using punitive enforcement to effect the public health mandates regarding Covid-19 will only serve to sabotage our efforts and extend the pandemic’s time frame.

However, we simply must understand that getting this all back on track given where we are now will be no mean feat. 



Who will win?

I don’t know.

I know I voted for joebiden [one word].

I also know what I hope will happen…

Here is a metaphorical depiction of the Trump campaign’s second-term aspirations after the reality of November 3rd and the sound drubbing of the entire 2020 election process soaks in:



Even if Joe Biden is elected as president it would not guarantee that we will be able to avoid the kind of fiery destruction metaphorically depicted above in the Hindenburg tragedy. For that, we must find ways to deal with the revelations (and the backlash) of the Covid-19 Apocalypse. A Biden/Harris administration would not guarantee safe passage. However, it could give us a chance to delay/avoid the systems disintegration that is presently imminent. It could, in sharp distinction, afford us an opportunity to create healthy change. 

Again, I don’t know who will be elected president. Regardless of the outcome of the election, we are just beginning to deal with the difficult “me AND we” realities humans face in the first half of the twenty-first century. 

Next week: “Picking-up after an Apocalypse.” Come and see. 

[this post approx. 2,000 words (8  min. read)]

Your thoughts?

I never know what I’ve said till I hear the response. What did you hear me say? Note: Spiral Dynamics is a complex developmental anthropology, so, I’m using a serial-approach to present it. Blog introduction (June 30, 2018). First in series (July 1, 2018).



2 thoughts on “First we vote (and count)

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