hitting home

The struggles of power

Column by Michael Alcorn
Posted 10/14/20

A good friend of mine told me this once about teaching, when my job was as much coaching as it was teaching: he said if you have to get in a power struggle, make absolutely certain you win. Now, that …

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hitting home

The struggles of power


A good friend of mine told me this once about teaching, when my job was as much coaching as it was teaching: he said if you have to get in a power struggle, make absolutely certain you win. Now, that may seem a little odd to people who have never coached, but there is often one or two kids on any team who think that by virtue of whatever, that they can control the direction of the team. Smart coaches recognize the leadership potential of these kids early on, and co-opt their talents; sometimes that doesn’t work.

Parents know how this goes. That’s why you set up rules to begin with, actions and consequences. “Don’t eat your dinner, you don’t get dessert,” that sort of thing. Heaven forbid you give in on that sort of thing even once, because the kid learns quickly that they’re in charge. The greater problem comes when the kid realizes that they can live without dessert — then, what do you do? You escalate, of course. These days, it’s relatively simple: shut off the Wi-Fi, turn off the cell phone. That’s sort of the trump card in 2020.

But, what happens if, Heaven forbid, the kid learns that they can do without their cell phone? That sort of scenario leads to a horrible game of brinksmanship, where all parties have to escalate further and further until a sort of nuclear option gets invoked.

And speaking of children…

Our “leaders” are engaged right now in the most comical, tragic, and absurd game of brinksmanship our country has seen in 160 years. And it’s on several fronts. On the western front, Senate Republicans have announced their intention to confirm one more Supreme Court nominee without any bipartisan cooperation. Whether you like it or not, that is their prerogative, thanks to Democrat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid forcing the end of the Senate rule allowing filibusters of judicial nominees in 2013. Now, in retaliation, *some* Democrats are threatening to change the Supreme Court by engaging in “court packing”: increasing the size of the Court, and filling the extra seats with members of your own party, to guarantee a liberal majority. For the record, the Democrat Presidential candidate said this weekend that voters have no right to know what he thinks about that idea, and Colorado’s Democrat Senate candidate said “we need to change people before we change institutions,” whatever that means (time for our periodic reminder that Orwell wrote as cautionary tale, not as how-to guide).

On the flank of this front is the process of granting full statehood to the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, which, Democrats believe, would guarantee them four new Senators, cementing their majority into the foreseeable future.

On the eastern front, a very rich “dark money” group, tired of winning the popular vote but losing the election, is attempting to change the Electoral College. The National Popular Vote movement would guarantee that the person receiving the greater share of the national popular vote would earn Colorado’s nine electoral votes, regardless of how Colorado actually votes. The 23 million people of southern California would, thus, swallow the influence of Colorado’s 6 million people.

These are nothing but power struggles, ones that will lead to terrible brinksmanship. If the Democrats “pack the court,” you know Republicans will do the same thing the next time they have a majority. Four new Senators? Why not 18 more, when all the intermountain states divide in two, and eastern California separates from the Coast into two new states? And, of course, along with those Senators go 27 new electoral college votes. And that’s just the second wave — as King George queried, “what comes next?”

I always saw power struggles as a failure, regardless of the outcome. As a country, we’re all on the brink of a terrible failure. It’s a brink we can step back from, but it’s one that we, the people, have to take the initiative to control. Because, obviously, our “leaders” are incapable of it.

Michael Alcorn is a teacher and writer who lives in Arvada with his wife and three children. His new novel, “Charon’s Blade,” is available at Amazon.com, on Kindle, or through MichaelJAlcorn.com.” His opinions are not necessarily those of Colorado Community Media.


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