We try very hard not to talk about the election and its aftermath, instead exploring the fascinating subject of ethnoastronomy. We delve into some of the unique relationships human cultures have had with the stars throughout history, including a look at the Mescalero Apache and the Australian Aborigines. In our Pro Extension, we turn from astronomy to astrology for an in-depth analysis of President Obama’s birth chart and what it says about his presidency, and a brief look at how Pluto influences the attitudes of whole generations — that is, until the Mercury Retrograde gets the best of us and crashes our equipment!
Our discussion has been so narrow, our mainstream discourse so dismissive of third party candidates and their platforms, that most voters don’t even know what questions they’re asking or which solutions they’re offering. When the only perspectives the gatekeepers allow to flood the national airwaves are those of Big Red and Big Blue, the only reaction left to many observers is to pick apart their positions, ignore their overwhelming similarities, and squabble over their minute differences. But when a third, or fourth, or fifth, or five hundredth perspective is allowed to come forward, championed by some passionate groups that coalesce around a common goal or a common cause, suddenly we are not faced with a false and unrealistic black-and-white choice. Suddenly there are many shades of grey.
We look at one of the grand cycles of nature: election season. We take the Keystone XL pipeline as our jumping-off place to examine the host of environmental issues facing the world, and ask which American presidential candidate might best tackle them. Then we pivot to the culture war, one of the engines driving the tremendous polarization in American politics: why have the culture battlegrounds started to shift? For answer we delve into Jonathon Haidt’s theory of larger patterns of morality across all human societies. Finally we look at essential issues that are being completely ignored in the presidential campaign, and ask: if American democracy won’t face these problems, is it broken? We consider some rather unconventional ideas about how to fix it. Then in the Pro Extension, we tackle the separation of church and state, and consider whether political movements are strengthened or weakened by mooring themselves to religious foundations.