Tuesday, August 2, 2016

The Astrology of Gridlock in a time of Chaos: Election 2016 Update

It’s always understandable that people vote on the basis of self-interest, but what happens on the “wonky” collective level really matters this time, and the broader, more inclusive our perspectives, the better.  

We’ve tackled many hot topics this election season and applied the principles of mundane astrology to them, but perhaps no topic is as pressing as the perceived inability of the U.S. government to get anything of substance done.  The Cosmos has not dealt kindly with those dedicated, results-oriented folks who keep plugging away in our political mine fields—not surprisingly, this may explain why so many despair that no matter who we elect in November, the gridlock will continue.

In the past few decades we have simply convinced ourselves that government itself is a hollow, meaningless enterprise that never quite advances the interests we care about—on either side of the aisle. In a world that shouts out today for big, bold solutions to pressing challenges, we’re more often found debating the latest Twitterstorm and judging each other unkindly.

In fact, it’s so apparent from this election year’s discourse that we’ve forgotten what the U.S. government is supposed to do for us, and how it’s supposed to lead in today’s world. Maybe we’ve also forgotten what our own responsibilities as citizens are to each other and to our government.

According to an article entitled “What’s Ailing American Politics” in the July/August The Atlantic, journalist Jonathan Rauch addresses how our politics has devolved into what he calls a state of “chaos syndrome:”

“…a chronic decline in the political system’s capacity for self-organization. It begins with the weakening of the institutions and brokers—political parties, career politicians, and congressional leaders and committees—that have historically held politicians accountable to one another and prevented everyone in the system from pursuing naked self-interest all the time.”
Rauch points out that the system of political middlemen that used to keep our politics sane and functional was “reformed…to death,” as government was sold to Americans as being the cause of our problems, not the solution to them. As we’ve seen all during this election season, seasoned political professionals are routinely reviled as “the Establishment,” and being an “Outsider” is celebrated. Actual experience governing is optional, or even a negative!  “Americans,” he says,

“have been busy demonizing and disempowering political professionals and parties, which is like spending decades abusing and attacking your own immune system. Eventually, you will get sick.”[1]

Rauch uses this biological disease model very effectively, to analyze how our politics became so chaotic and how it might recover. This model works well for an astrological perspective, as well, using the U.S. Sibly chart as our astrological “body politic.” To keep Election 2016 in our sights as the current context, we’ll examine the biwheel between these two. Before we look at the actual charts, however, let’s consider some basic planetary correlations to Rauch’s biological model:

Stage 1: Immunity
This first stage in Rauch’s model addresses how the checks and balances the Founding Fathers built into our Constitution function as our national “immune system,” protecting us from “demagogic excess and populist caprice”—too much power concentrated either at the top, or at the bottom. In the Sibly chart, this balancing act is represented by the “power centers” of the chart: the Sun (the Executive branch), Saturn and Jupiter (together, ruling our two-chamber Congress, the Judiciary and our two-party system), and the Moon (We the People).

According to Rauch, the Framers were visionaries, but in his view, they “left a serious omission” in the nation’s basic immune system—a way to “hold politicians accountable to one another.” In an otherwise strong chart, we can look to the Sibly’s Gemini Mars square to Virgo Neptune for this unfortunate “Achilles heel.” Medical astrology considers these two to be co-rulers (along with others) of an individual’s immune system, so we can see how the hard mutable square aspect here might cause problems in our “body politic.”

As to the difficulty posed by miscreant politicians, it takes a major crisis like the 1970s Watergate affair to actually bring a criminal president down in mid-term. Erring Congress-people have resigned under the weight of public opinion, but to be forced out, they must commit an actual, prosecutable crime. We have, Rauch reminds us, no “vote of confidence,” as parliamentary systems across Europe do.

In fact, Rauch says that “By itself, the Constitution is a recipe for chaos.” He then describes the “second, unwritten Constitution” that evolved to fill in the procedural and operational blanks with party infrastructures, political organizations, and so on.

“If the Constitution was the system’s DNA, the parties and machines and political brokers were its RNA, translating the Founders’ bare-bones framework into dynamic organizations and thus converting conflict into action.” [2]
Historically, a culture of reciprocal relationships and bipartisan team structures provided incentives for compromise and cooperation—the only way to consistently get things done in politics. This culture of so-called “middlemen” was deliberately and incrementally dismantled (excessively “reformed”) from the 1980s to the present, leading to Rauch’s second stage.

Stage 2: Vulnerability
Our political system’s vulnerability is closely related to all of the above, and Sibly Mars’ square to Neptune remains one culprit. The flood (Neptune) of money in politics has clearly helped disable the system, especially, as Rauch describes, in the way it has driven a toxic overhaul of the nominating process.

This overhaul doesn’t reward the tough political organizing work that used to be rewarded: in the case of Donald Trump, Rauch points out that he “…seized the lead in the primary process by winning a mere plurality of a mere fraction of the electorate.”[3]

In other words, the Republicans did not get a candidate who embodies their interests, but a candidate who knew how to exploit the media for free publicity, and knew how to game the nominating system. It’s no surprise he didn’t do well in Iowa caucuses—first, he didn’t show up for the Iowa debate, fearing “mistreatment” by the press, but more importantly, the caucus system requires one-on-one accountability between candidate and caucus participants. Primaries allow for easy pickins’—especially for a candidate who knows how to play people’s emotions.

Stage 3: Pathogens
A healthy immune system requires agents that ward off invading pathogens—in politics, the agents playing the role of “antibodies and white blood cells” are the “middlemen,” according to Rauch. He says such middlemen “safely absorb the energy that insurgents unleash,” because although it doesn’t hurt to shake up the system periodically to keep things fresh (the province of Uranus), it’s helpful to have a strong network of political careerists (Saturn) who monitor these incursions and send off alarm signals when things get too far out of balance.

When an immune system is fighting off an infection, Mars responds with a fever, heating things up and attacking the pathogens.  Neptune’s rulership of general immunity brings nearly the entire solar system into play, since it co-rules many aspects of immunity with other planets.[4] Long story short, if every planet/antibody, etc. is on task, an organism’s immune system regulates itself and wards off pathogens.  In political terms, a healthy Republican party’s immune system would be able to rein in a renegade candidate like Donald Trump, or simply eject or rebuke him. The grudging acceptance of their fate as Trump’s vehicle suggests their “immunity” is seriously compromised.

A call to rebuke Trump’s candidacy was the eloquent plea to Republican Party leaders we heard these past few days from Khizr and Ghazala Khan—the Gold Star parents whose son, Army Captain Humayun Khan, died protecting his troops in Iraq.  While several prominent Republicans responded with statements decrying Trump’s shameful response to the Khan family, there’s been no move to seriously disown his candidacy. In today’s breaking news, President Obama has even stated that “Trump is unfit for the presidency”—quite possibly an unprecedented statement by an outgoing president.

So, where do Republicans go from here? Extending the immune system analogy, if they find themselves unable to act, their party may have gone septic—the pathogen has overtaken them.
In all fairness, Rauch identifies other pathogens currently threatening our political system, and distorted public perception about how the system should work ranks high on the list. Considering Mars and Neptune would also play a role in distorting that perception makes this threat especially difficult.  We’ll see the interesting way this plays out in the Sibly chart.

Stage 4: Symptoms
Rauch emphasizes that insurgencies and disruptions to politics-as-usual is not inherently bad—such disruptions have played important roles in our evolution as a political society. What he does fear, however, is that “chaos syndrome wreaks havoc on the system’s ability to absorb and channel disruptions.”[5] Chaos—a specialty of Uranus and Neptune, (often enabled by Pluto and others)—has a way of robbing an organism of its resilience, the ability to bounce back from disruptions. 

When the incursions cross a certain line with a democratic government, however, the institution of democracy itself is up for grabs, and the “body politic” doesn’t realize what it’s losing until it’s gone.

Rauch says the “trick is to govern through” such disruptions.

Rauch cites a speaker who harked back to Bill Clinton’s administration to admire the way it bounced back from near-impeachment. “…we have to ask ourselves, what is it that not long ago allowed our government to metabolize the aggression that is inherent in any pluralistic society and still get things done?”[6] Bottom line: the unwillingness of our Congress people to wade into the messiness of democracy and craft compromise solutions is one major symptom of our current political malaise.

In homeopathic fashion, however, the cure is contained in the problem, so Uranus, Neptune and Pluto also offer wisdom and a path forward. We’ll consider some ideas this trio might promote in the discussion below. First, a few words about the “cure” Rauch prescribes.

Stage 5: Prognosis and Treatment
Rauch doesn’t have a quick cure, but he believes that Americans’ perception of the political process urgently needs to improve, and that the gutted infrastructure of our parties and political organizations needs to be gradually restored. Not for sake of structure alone, or to “rig” the system one way or another, but to make the job of essential middlemen—who keep the “chaos syndrome” at bay—possible. Importantly, he says:

“The biggest obstacle, I think, is the general public’s reflexive, unreasoning hostility to politicians and the process of politics. Neurotic hatred of the political class is the country’s last universally acceptable form of bigotry. Because that problem is mental, not mechanical, it really is hard to remedy.”[7]
So, at this point we can address the “patient” in question—the nation-at-large (Sibly chart), as it will look astrologically this coming November 8th (Election chart).

Biwheel 1: (inner wheel) Radix, U.S. Sibly, July 4, 1776, 5:10 p.m., LMT, Philadelphia, PA; (outer wheel) Radix, Election 2016, November 8, 2016, 7:20 a.m. ST, Washington, D.C.

Election ASC-Mercury (Scorpio) trine Sibly Mercury (Cancer), square Election Moon-Sibly Moon (Aquarius) and inconjoin Election Uranus (Rx, Aries)-Eris (Aries). The trine aspect here suggests a generous turnout of voters (Mercury), but the squares to both Moons reflect the possibility of voter irregularities and difficulties, as well. Restrictive voting laws have been passed by a number of states, and although courts are also forcing some states to loosen these laws, there will be heavy monitoring of the situation. A certain amount of discord (Uranus-Eris) is likely. More on that below.

Interchart T-square: Election Mars-Sibly Pluto (both Capricorn) oppose Sibly Mercury; this axis squares Election Uranus-Eris-Sibly Chiron (all Aries). We can expect a police presence guarding many polling places because attempts to disrupt the orderly process of voting are possible. This could happen through powerful deception (Sibly Pluto), through chaos (Uranus-Eris) or both. Not a good sign for the health of our democracy, it appears that the less voters broadcast their plans for the secret ballot, the better. Protests—when peaceful, a net positive for a democracy—are likely to happen, and it’s likely the nation’s divisions and deep wounds around those divisions (Chiron) will be in the news that day.

News stories are already circulating about the possible hacking of our voting systems by outside players; needless to say, the havoc that sort of cyber-attack (Mars-Uranus-Eris) would cause is a deep security concern. This speaks to the “vulnerability” phase discussed above: hopefully, local election officials are taking this possibility seriously and gearing up to provide a secure paper trail for every vote.

As discussed earlier, the homeopathic cure to what ails us is also contained in these tough configurations. We need to counter our internal divisions with an excess of tolerance and love on Election Day. Let’s shock (Uranus-Eris) each other with the depth of our collective sense of responsibility (Pluto in Capricorn) towards each other and our empathy for others’ points of view (Sibly Cancer Mercury). Chiron heals as well as wounds, and this election can be a healing experience if we make it so.

Election Saturn/Election Venus  (midpoint, Sagittarius) oppose Sibly Mars (Gemini); Election Saturn conjoins Sibly ASC (Sagittarius) and opposes Sibly Uranus/Mars (midpoint, Gemini).  The Saturn/Venus to Mars opposition speaks to complaints about restrictions, reinforcing other signals that there could be vote irregularities that day. Saturn’s transiting conjunction to the Sibly ASC that day suggests an emphasis on security and rules, so voters should make sure their registrations comply with local laws. Saturn’s opposition to the Sibly Uranus/Mars midpoint suggests that frustration with restrictions could boil over; this is especially true considering the volatile T-square discussed above. Not surprisingly, we’re hearing stories about foreign meddling in our national vote from the press already; the angular opposition reinforces that possibility.

Election Jupiter-Sibly Saturn (both Libra) sextile Election Saturn (Sagittarius) and square Sibly Sun-Jupiter (Cancer). We can also look at the midpoint configurations discussed above as a call to fairness and public responsibility in the face of outside interference. That point is reinforced by Libra Jupiter disposing Sagittarius Saturn while it conjoins Sibly Saturn. Together, Jupiter and Saturn co-rule our governmental “checks and balances,” so the generally positive way the transiting planets tie into their counterparts in the Sibly chart is reassuring. Squares portend tension and disagreements, but they are also what forces us to cooperate and share power. Perhaps the inborn tendency of our system to work out its differences without actually destroying itself entirely will prevail, after all.

Election Venus conjoins the Galactic Center (GC, Sagittarius), sextiles Sibly Moon (Aquarius), squares Sibly Neptune (Virgo), trines Election Uranus-Eris (Aries), opposes Sibly Mars (Gemini) and semi-sextiles/quincunxes Sibly Pluto-opposite-Mercury (Capricorn-Cancer). There’s a complicated network of forces at work here, but let’s break it down:

            Election Venus conjoins the GC, sextiles Sibly Moon and opposes Sibly Mars (Gemini). “Ideas whose time has come” seem to happen when there are strong conjunctions to the GC. Astrologer Mandi Lockley has studied the natal connections so-called “whistleblowers” often have to the GC. I have studied the prevalence of natal aspects to the GC in our Founding Fathers and in key U.S. presidents in our own times. The GC seems to support heroic efforts, and Venus’s conjunction here could be poised to either make history with our first woman president, (taking advantage of the opportunity for public support with the sextile to the Moon), or to unleash recrimination (Sagittarian thunderbolts) on an “enemy” that compromises election information (7th house Gemini Mars).

            Election Venus-GC squares Sibly Neptune (Virgo) and trines Election Uranus-Eris (Aries). The connections here also imply that Election Uranus-Eris are quincunx Sibly Neptune,  adding to the friction. These aspects seem to indicate that there will be many intelligent players (Uranus) intent upon obfuscating (Neptune, Mercury disposing Virgo) and disrupting (Eris) the business of that day. Powerful, monied interests (and likely, the NRA) will be invested in disruption, as well, with Mars in Capricorn disposing Aries Uranus-Eris.

            The involvement of Sibly Neptune in these aspects suggests that the material dreams of Americans—which we haven’t been able to take for granted for awhile—are at stake in this election as well. As always, views differ on the path forward, but securing their preferred vision for progress is powerful motivation for voters. Every election is about the economy, but layered on top of that this year are the anxieties Trump has whipped up in his followers about losing jobs to immigrants and losing their guns, opening the way for a toxic (Neptune) mixture.

            Election Venus-GC semi-sextiles/quincunxes Sibly Pluto-opposite-Mercury (Capricorn-Cancer). Any planetary energy that taps into our Sibly Pluto-Mercury opposition triggers a powerful reaction. If Clinton is represented in the election chart by Venus, the semi-sextile/quincunx relationship speaks to uneasiness between the candidate and the nation’s corporate/financial institutions. As discussed in the July 19th post here, certain sectors of Wall Street would likely profit greatly with a Trump presidency, but mainstream investors (i.e., retirees, those working to grow their 401Ks, etc.) are into diversifying, so putting all their eggs in a couple baskets like defense and the oil-and-gas industries wouldn’t be as attractive. Wall Street may just hold its nose and vote for Clinton because the alternative seems too chaotic.

Interchart Grand-Cross: Election Neptune-SNode (Pisces) opposes Election NNode (Virgo); this axis squares Election Saturn-Sibly ASC (Sagittarius) opposed to Sibly Mars/Uranus and DSC (Gemini). Emotions (Neptune) will be running high this election, which is being built up as perhaps the most critical election in decades (Nodal axis). Saturn and Neptune’s lingering square (wide) pulls in Sibly Uranus, reinforcing the possibility of problems with voting technology systems (Uranus) and casting doubt on voting results. Saturn and Uranus have a harsh edge here, despite their wide orb—they’re a bit unpredictable in mutable signs, too, so finding the best balance for “law and order” that day will be a challenge. “Free speech”-fueled (Gemini) skirmishes could arise.

Returning to the issue of distorted public perception mentioned earlier as a “pathogen” attacking our political system, this grand cross may not do much to directly cure that problem, but we may reach a tense point of no return that gets our attention.

Election Neptune-SNode trine Sibly Sun-Jupiter-Venus (Cancer); Election NNode (Virgo) sextiles the same points. For those on the winning side, there could be considerable euphoria (Neptune trine Sibly Jupiter-Venus), for both emotional and financial (Sibly Venus-Jupiter) reasons. There could also be euphoria or confusion abroad (Sibly 7th house planets), as well—we know the world is watching this election very carefully!

Interchart T-Square: Election Pluto (Capricorn) opposes Sibly Sun (Cancer); this axis squares Election Jupiter-Sibly Saturn (Libra); Election Pluto sextiles Election Sun (Scorpio). To say that this election is having a transformative effect on our “body politic” falls short: this election has raised deep questions about what makes us a functioning democracy, what the limits are of our democratic values, and whether we can really function as one coherent nation, going forward. This t-square certainly stresses all those points, tapping into the branches of our government that keep the American political “immune system” intact. There’s a heavy, karmic feel here that calls for deep national soul-searching. Judging by the news these days, clearly that process has begun.

Wrapping it up
It’s always understandable that people vote on the basis of self-interest, but what happens on the “wonky” collective level really matters this time, and the broader, more inclusive our perspectives, the better.  Whether we look at it as shoring up our collective immune system for the battles we will need to fight for progress ahead, or we look at it as practicing a political Golden Rule doesn’t matter. We are all members of one “body politic,” and if we tear each other apart, what can we hope for ahead?

Raye Robertson is a practicing astrologer, writer and former university English instructor. A graduate of the Faculty of Astrological Studies (U.K.), Raye focuses on mundane, collective-oriented astrology, with a particular interest in current affairs, culture and media, the astrology of generations, and public concerns such as education and health. Several of her articles on these topics have been featured in The Mountain Astrologer and other publications over the years. Raye can be contacted by comment here, or at: robertsonraye@gmail.com. 

© Raye Robertson 2016. All rights reserved. 

[1] Rauch, p. 53.
[2] Rauch, p. 54.
[3] Rauch, p. 55.
[4] I especially like A Handbook of Medical Astrology by Jane Ridder-Patrick for her in-depth explanations about planetary correlations for physiological functions.
[5] Rauch, p. 60.
[6] Rauch, p. 60-61.
[7] Rauch, p. 63.