The Music Man playeth a sombre tune


When statisticians, mathematicians and physicists look at the distribution of factors in all the sciences, they uniformly use the term ‘normal distribution.’ The Gaussian or bell-shaped curve is the most ubiquitous of probability distributions in all the sciences.

Political analysts and pollsters are also Gaussians. Certainly that is the perspective being used to decipher the conduct of Americans in the U.S. presidential campaigns. Normally, the height and width of the curve of human conduct may widen or narrow. The midpoint may even shift a little to the right or left. But it is quite uncommon, if not rare, to have group opinion move away from the ‘normal distribution.’ To think otherwise would be as unusual as having the weight and height distribution of mankind go totally awry. Yes, the median of our height and weight of has increased significantly over the past 100 years. And we are seeing a shift of the height and weight distribution curves to the right (increasing) with the advent of more food availability and sedentary lifestyles. Still, the distribution remains Gaussian.

There are demographic exceptions of course. For instance the age distribution population of St. Albert has a long-standing dip in the number of 15- to 24-year-olds. But then St. Albert is somewhat special – almost as uncommon as two-hump Bactrian camels amongst two-toed ungulates. We could have smoothed this out by keeping a university in the City – but that is a story for another time.

Let’s look at this shift in the political landscape more closely. In the coming election Secretary Hilary Clinton is presently slightly to the left yet still representing the mid-point in traditional U.S. political positioning. On the other hand, the supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump are now in the ascendency and have become the two humps on the camel’s back of politically active Americans. Somewhat the same split is happening in Austria. And in France. So too in Britain, we are seeing a sliding of support to the right and left wing extremes of political rhetoric. Brexit may follow. Only in Canada, do we have a workable moderate centre of the road party – headed up presently by Justin The Apologist – making up for a singularly unapologetic predecessor.

Why this breakdown in confidence? To a large degree the blame rests with the two most recent U.S. presidents. First was the naivetĂ© of a well meaning George W. Bush who took his eye off Afghanistan before the job was done and attacked Iraq – swayed by Dick Cheney of Halliburton (it’s all about oil) and Donald Rumsfeld whose one-time buddy Saddam Hussein failed in his U.S.-funded eight-year Iraq-Iran war. One need not retell the tales of Obama’s hip hopping over his ‘red line in the sand’ Middle East activities to understand why Europe is now in turmoil.

The outcome has been a disastrous invasion of Middle East refugees into a once empathetic Europe. Fascism and separatism are now on the rise. And a splintered U.S. Congress has revolted against the White House by having legislative temper tantrums.

The public’s emotive cheerleaders are now Donald and Bernie. And the American voter will have the final say. As the Music Man said – Oh, we got trouble! And it ain’t only in River City Iowa.

Alan Murdock is a local pediatrician.


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St. Albert Gazette

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