Utopia is not one of the options. — David Bergland

     This is likely to be a ramble, but it addresses one of the most important of all axioms in…well, in life, so I hope my Gentle Readers will bear with me for a few hundred words.

     Every human being engages in a decades-long exercise that no one can spare him. The conventional term for this is consciousness: specifically, his consciousness of his own individual existence and what it implies. Consciousness imposes an inexorable duty on its possessor: the duty to choose what he will do with his next moments. (For the hecklers in the peanut gallery, that includes the possibility of doing nothing at all, an alternative that’s always available.)

     The critical word in the above paragraph is choose. When a man is conscious, he must choose what to do next. But choice always occurs within an envelope of alternatives. Those alternatives vary according to the identity of the chooser and the context he inhabits at the moment of his choice. He must select from among them; he cannot demand that God provide him with a different set, or with some possibility that isn’t among them. In colloquial terms, we can do only what we can do.

     We’re seldom acutely focused on that aspect of existence. We deal with it in our varied ways, but we don’t often ponder it.

     Awareness of the finitude of our possible courses of action doesn’t necessarily mean that we’ll be happy about it. We might yearn for some alternative that’s unavailable to us. We might resent having to choose from these alternatives, at this time, in this place. But the imperative of choice will be there nevertheless.

     Thus also with politics and nations. An old TV movie, The Missiles Of October, which addressed the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, concludes with a meeting between President John F. Kennedy and his inner circle of advisors. The meeting takes place after a deal has been reached between the Kremlin and Washington over the IRBMs the Soviets had placed in Cuba. In discussing the details of that deal, one of those advisors asks why the U.S. could not demand that the Soviets adhere to some demand that wasn’t “on the table.” President Kennedy, ably played by William Devane, responds temperately that “We’re not all-powerful; we have limits.” And so it is and always will be.

     Regardless of the level of government one inspects, a political entity will not have an unbounded range of alternatives from which to choose. Scarcity of resources, including the availability of time, money, appropriate personnel, and so forth limit every legislature’s and every executive’s choices. Except in totalitarian dictatorships, they will also be confined by legal restraints. No matter the specifics, the question of the hour is never “What would we like to do?” but “What can we do?”

     As president, Donald Trump did the best he could with what he had. Many of his moves had to be through executive orders: i.e., orders to the personnel of the executive branch of the federal government to do (or not to do) something that was within their legal scope and their capabilities. But executive orders can be annulled or reversed, as the installation of Joe Biden has demonstrated. That doesn’t condemn Trump’s moves; it merely underscores the conditions under which he had to govern, and the limited alternatives from which he had to choose.

     When November 2020 arrived, the American electorate had to choose between Trump and Biden. There were no feasible alternatives to those two candidates. Yes, theoretically the whole nation could have written in Ron or Rand Paul, but that was never in the cards. Leaving aside the corruption that tainted the balloting – and there was plenty – the votes that mattered were for one of those two names.

     We could lament that we had to choose from that selection. Lamenting costs nothing. But it also changes nothing.

     NeverTrumpers chose to support a demonstrably senile man of no actual accomplishments and anti-American policy inclinations rather than for the admittedly abrasive real estate magnate who had already demonstrated significant governing prowess. Why? No doubt each of them could give us quite a litany. Their choices – to say nothing of their willingness to accept a fatally fraudulent election process and support its beneficiary – helped to give us the circumstances we face today.

     If Donald Trump should gain the GOP nomination for the presidency in 2024, he’ll face either the Dementia Patient in Chief or some even less palatable Leftist. If you, Gentle Reader, decide to participate in that election, that will be the choice you’ll face. Whatever Trump’s failings, he was and still is the better alternative. Wishing for a candidate of perfectly stainless reputation who has never uttered an ill-chosen word and selects his Cabinet appointees with infinite wisdom will change nothing.

     Of course, there will be other alternatives, from among which anyone may choose. They’ll include declining to vote. That’s the right of every franchise holder. And once the ultimate candidates are presented to us, that might prove to be the best alternative available.