The cover story of last month's Scientific American is "The Future of Physics." It's got all sorts of stuff in there about how the guys in the white coats can measure what happens when they smash these teensy weensy thingamajigs - so tiny they make atoms look like Dom DeLuise after he let himself go - hurling around at 99.9999991 percent the speed of light. They're not positive they know how everything works; indeed, the opposite is the case. The deeper they look at the infinitesimal details, the more they discover they don't know. But at least they're down to the quantum nitty-gritty.
It's an interesting contrast with politics these days. While physicists can count the number of quarks in a given space with mind-boggling accuracy, the very best political minds in the land, with all the resources they need at their disposal (i.e. a phone, an up-to-date Rolodex and a calculator), can barely manage to get a working head count of how many delegates, "super" or otherwise, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have. It turns out that party hacks are more prone to Heisenberg's uncertainty principle than gluons and quarks are. No wonder Einstein said physics is easy but politics is hard.
People talk a big game about how they want the "process" to be more democratic, how they want more people to be involved, how we need more voices and choices. But when we get what we ask for, many of the same people suddenly crave closure more than a guest on "Dr. Phil does." Take the race for the Democratic nomination. Depending on your point of view, the Democratic Party admirably or foolishly "frontloaded" the primary schedule so as to get a more representative group of voters - more black, more Hispanic, more urban, more Western, etc. - deciding who the nominee will be. Now that this system has created the result all the goody-goodies wanted, they're freaking out like extras in "Reefer Madness."
Terrified that their votes will actually matter, the superdelegates are begging to dodge the responsibility of doing their job. Like missile officers in an ICBM silo, they don't want to be the ones to turn their keys. You can't blame them. Why frontload the Democratic primaries to make them more democratic, only to close the deal in a decidedly (lowercase R) republican way?
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