Auto Racing and Politics Have The Same Problem
I have written a number of articles about how much I love racing. 2019 goes down as a record for me of NOT watching auto racing hardly at all, I think I watched one F1 race (it was dull) and NASCAR basically could have caught fire and I wouldn’t have noticed. I have been spending more time enjoying watching the guys from Bad Obsession Motorsports working on Project Binky. Honestly, it more enjoyable I think.
I do pay attention to world politics, Canadian politics, American politics, and British Politics. I think that the actions of the more powerful western leaders are very important in my life, and they do shape the world around me. I am also quite big in watching the mechanics of how it is all done, how the power ebbs and flows, and how the norms and traditions of the various houses of Parliament, congress, and other institutions work.
Or these days, how it doesn’t work.
First, let’s talk auto racing. One of the things that auto racing had going for it was that nobody had all of the answers, and a team at almost any level of any series could hit a combination that would be powerful and entertaining. Often series (including F1 and NASCAR) had different teams doing different things that gave good results to different teams under difference circumstances. A team might have higher speed but less handling, might be good on a short oval but not a long one, might be good on a twist road course but not one with really long straights, and so on.
What killed that? Well, first of all engineers learned too much. Especially with digital technology, wind tunnels, and material strength studies, it’s pretty easy for even the weakest team to turn up with a car that is passable (except, apparently, for Williams F1 this year… so sad!). It’s found in F1 with the closeness of the mid pack runners, it’s found in NASCAR with how many cars finish on the lead lap of most races, and it’s found overall in the general lack of retirements from races for mechanical issues. The cars are “good”, so good in fact that they keep going and going. F1 cars in theory only get 3 or 4 engines for a whole year! The durability of these things is insane.
The best teams in each series get ahead usually on areas where spending a pot full of money can extract a few tenths here or there. Mercedes has done it with a super engine and great handling, Ferrari has done it by building the most potent engine, etc. The teams who don’t have a pile of cash to throw at the problem are mid fielders, and they are all pretty much on the same level. In f1, you take away the first 6 cars and everyone else is pretty much equal.
The problem is simple: in auto racing development, we now know too much, and we are able to limit the number of unknown variables, to the point where it’s easy to get horsepower and such. Look at the street drag racing cars, with 1000HP or more often running on pump gas, or how the average guy in his driveway can LS swap his car, put a cam and a blower on it and get an easy 600HP without effort. It’s too simple. It also means that we know the short cuts to get things done.
Politics now has the same problem. True politics is a bit of a art, it’s negotiation, it’s public opinion, it’s word games and image pandering. It’s about greasing certain wheels and jamming others. It’s about holding your nose and accepting what might not otherwise be acceptable because it’s the right thing. It’s about doing what’s right for your local constituents while at the same time taking in the responsibility for the whole country.
There is no place to see how this has all broken down like the US currently. Politics has always been somewhat partisan, but now it’s reached the point where it is ONLY partisan. Members are expected to vote exactly on party lines, and as a result the whole system is frozen.
People like Senate leader Mitch McConnell have figured this out and are using it to full advantage. Since Trump has been elected, the Senate has rammed through judge after judge, filling the ranks at every level with judges who are often biased conservative, and often are marginally qualified. They are also putting younger and younger judges into “positions for life” in order to stack the courts with conservative voices and often a conservative majority – even if that does not reflect the true will of the people.
They can do it because they have limited the number of unknown variables, made the whole process acceptably partisan, and it is done without excuses or a simple by your leave. Republicans have the majority in the Senate and they are using it to both try to ram through an agenda and at the same time to deny the House Democratic majority the chance to get anything done. The house passes bills, and the senate ignores them.
Non partisan votes are so rare, that when they do happen it’s big news.
This of course combines with a President who has no fear of using executive orders for anything and everything, essentially short cutting the entire legislative process to “get things done”. President Trump pretty much says “see you in court, sonny!” to anything and everything, issues an executive order, and waits for the lawsuits to fly.
Negotiation? Politics? Not anymore. We have essentially done an inspection of all of the variables and eliminated everything from play except the pure majority.
Even now, with Trump impeached in the House, we are left with a huge partisan problem. Rather than pledging to do their jobs and be unbiased jurors in an upcoming Senate impeachment trial, the leadership on the Republican side such as #Moscowmitch and others have said they are working with the White House on defense. This flies directly in the face of what an impeachment trial is suppose to be. They have used their partisan position to find Trump innocent on everything before the trial even starts. The Republican majority could simply have a summary vote and dismiss the whole thing in about 10 minutes.
It would be a travesty of justice, and it would likely be the end of the American political system as we know it. Anyone who actually pays attention knows that what Trump did was at very best slimy and questionable, and his efforts to cover up and block members of his staff from testifying in the House is a straight up crime. Yet, the Republicans feel that they are above the law, and will almost certainly let this President slide on clear crimes against the country.
The politicians, just like the racing engineers, have found ways to eliminate almost everything except what they want. Now it’s just pots full of money that get things done.