The bad guys wear black hats.
We’re programmed to see things in black or white, right or wrong, good or evil. From what we are shown in movies and books from an early age, there is a protagonist and an antagonist.
Clever writers make it a little more complex, with the Boo Radleys and Snapes who are thought to be villains but turn out to be heroes. But generally, the characters fit largely into extremes: good guys or bad guys with little overlap: Harry Potter versus Voldemort.
But it’s those characters on the edge who people can’t get enough of. Like Walter White, the cancer patient who starts producing meth to leave some money behind for his family in the TV show Breaking Bad.
And that’s probably because its an often unspoken truth that life is mostly gray, and not so black and white.
But the binary two choice meme has a function. It makes things a hell of a lot easier. And it prevents us from being crippled by indecision and inaction.
Of course, this is also easily exploited by bad guys…
When I hear that the FBI considered attempting to oust Trump from the oval office, I am tempted to think, hey, Trump must not be such a bad guy.
According to a new book by former deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe, top FBI brass discussed using the 25th amendment to remove Trump, even though as the Wall Street Journal explains:
A President exercises his constitutional prerogative to fire the FBI director, and Mr. Comey’s associates immediately talked about deposing him in what would amount to a coup?
The 25th Amendment was passed after JFK’s assassination to allow for a transfer of power when a President is “unable” to discharge his duties. It is intended to be used only after demonstrated evidence of impairment that is witnessed by those closest to the Commander in Chief. It doesn’t exist to settle political differences, or to let scheming bureaucrats imagine they are saving the country from someone they fear is a Manchurian candidate. The constitutional process for that is impeachment.
So if the horribly corrupt FBI doesn’t like Trump, he must have something to offer.
But this is only true in the binary world or pure good and evil.
In the real world, evil often opposes evil, because they are different factions fighting for the same territory.
“All governments suffer a recurring problem: Power attracts pathological personalities. It is not that power corrupts but that it is magnetic to the corruptible.” -Frank Herbert, Author of Dune
We usually end up supporting who we see as the lesser of two evils.
That’s sort of like Walter White. He starts off as a timid science geek and devoted father and husband. He is attracted to the drug industry for apparently noble purposes. And he ends up poisoning a child, causing another child to be murdered, ordering an innocent assistant killed, and causing the death of his brother-in-law.
Ultimately, Walter White admits he didn’t become a massive meth producer for his family. He did it for the thrill, the glory, the power that came with it.
We live in a world of Walter Whites, not Voldemorts.
J.K. Rowling made Voldemort pure evil. But to her credit, she demonstrated how easy it was for him to seize the reigns of power at the Ministry of Magic, and how all the bureaucrats and ministers simply started serving a new master. Some even rejoiced in their new authority, relishing the newfound power.
When it comes to Trump versus the FBI, the Wall Street Journal editorial laments, “This is all corrosive to public trust in American democracy.”
So what do we do about it?
The less trust we put in the political system, the better. All we can do is separate ourselves to the best of our abilities from far off bureaucrats and politicians.
I am, at the Fed level, libertarian; at the state level, Republican; at the local level, Democrat; and at the family and friends level, a socialist.