Brief Observations At the Still Point
"It does not take a majority to prevail...but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men."
The latest bit of political B.S. was laid last week when ex-President Clinton got upset at Chris Wallace on an
interview show. Both parties and pundits ran with this one for awhile. I saw a Charlie Rose program that seemed
to be gleeful over the way Clinton has shown the democrats how to have some balls. And we know Clinton has those
everywhere but his mind and spirit. He is impressive as a speaker and looks like a giant figure until he wheels off and
gets slick as a young interns tongue.
The incidents are staged by very alert, media savvy politicians. It comes and
goes like most ill-wind. And they don't work because people see in them what they want. The Democratic supporters see it as
a kind of aggressive anger to show that their kind can get down and dirty; if not with terrorists than with Fox commentators. The Republicans see it as evidence that President Clinton is off-balance, even mentally disturbed.
I may think Clinton looked and sounded like a pissed off Mafia don ordering a hit but then we all see what we want to see.
The crucial thing is that the Democrats are not going to get back in power until they come up with new angles of attack to problems that
the people have lodged their democratic hearts in. That does not take staged "anger" events that are contrived to fool the boob
people that Democrats can be tough on terrorism. It takes authentic leadership that is not so transparently imbued with
charts on who needs to be manipulated to vote for them to swing elections.
The Republicans are filled with thugs, thick-brained hypocrites, provincial yahoos, racist wealthy people and a whole
group of suburbanites. But the Democrats are filled with idiots who should never enter politics. The Clinton's are the one
exception but they are utterly transparent. As I said before they are brilliant political animals and fascinating
literary characters in a nation filled with fantasy and disembodiness.
Perhaps it's true that there is
too much Money, too many Machines, too little Contemplation, too much Ignorance, too much Image, not enough Word and
so on and so forth. It's really fodder for some future historian to figure out. History, good and bad, moves much more quickly than
even the American people can keep up with.
As long as people feel free, have some discretionary income, are relatively happy it doesn't matter too much I suppose.
The liberals have a very difficult time because they have become nothing but critics. And critics are good and many of the critiques
from the left are right on target. But criticism always falls short of explaining anything. It is one component in
a galaxy of many components in a liberal democracy. How about having the courage of thinking through illegal immigration or the war on terrorism
and offer a positive, creative view that captures the people's belief that these issues can be solved?
Brilliant critics burn like seasoned wood and are ash before anyone can congratulate them.
When I think of the old critics that have been around for a time I laugh
at the outrageous ability of hurt pride to keep the old, decrepit cowboy in the saddle
shooting at what he takes are buffalo.
Meanwhile the conservatives pick out a few red herrings, a few objects of hatred
and then spew. (This is called the "animal theory of political warfare.")
At the core of it I don't get any sense the Republicans want a genuine furthering of development in the democracy.
They only study the fault lines of the population, find the buttons to push,
and push hard while hiding in the skin of patriotism.
The art of criticism is this: Bring in all your thunder to get the people to think on their own. Bring in your knowledge and experience
and let loose and get the people to start using their independent minds, experience, and knowledge. At that point you'll have a possibility
of a liberal democracy. As long as the critique is felt in the
gut and not contrived in some office where the participants laugh at the
effects it will bring.
September 30, 2006
I ran into this Public Journalism Summit Discussion and it presented some very
interesting questions about the internet and citizenry in a democracy. The actual event took place over three years ago but
asks central questions about the idea of re-invigorating the nature of citizenship in a democracy. And as we noted elsewhere
a great deal of the popular revolt today centers on the professional classes, including journalists and editors.
August 22, 2006
The extraordinary thing is that the American political system is in chaos. Those who understand
this and respond with some value will win out. All others will be swept to the dark, angry sea. The Republicans are in disarray because of the fallout from the incompetence of the Bush Administration. When the president is a dead
duck no one wants to eat at his table. That is plain enough. He made the egregious mistake of believing he and his cronies knew more than anyone else and has fallen into a bitter,
painful trap. The American people are now convinced that they must recover from the Bush Administration and that has thrown the party into a state of panic. They are implicated in every aspect of the debacle.
The Democrats are in disarray as exemplified by the Lieberman problem. Just last night large, old, white-haired veteran Democrats declared their backing of Lieberman to stave off the obviously damaging defeat in Connecticut.
We of the west coast blue love Connecticut and understand them perfectly. But we never or hardly elect Presidents and usually provide easy fodder for the other side to get electoral victories in border states that are mixed up with a lot of blues and reds.
The Democrats know this and are now in a huge quandary.
The Democrats are, in their own way, as much in confusion as the Republicans. And this is where the American people can step in with their common interest, their common wisdom and take the feet of these political parties and hold them to some burning fires. For the first time in a long
time the American people have the ability to make the political class conform to what the American people want and need. This is an extraordinary moment that comes about because of incompetence on the part of the majority party and disunion among the minority party.
Blend them and pick out the best attributes from each and demand that the representative enact on behalf of each of the best of the discredited parties. If the American people grasp that they have a shot at taking back the political
culture and making it sane and honest; even noble.
No, never noble but, at least, from the dim horizon of political reality "seeing with new eyes," and invigorating a scared, cynical but passive critical mass of citizens.
The idea was always fairly simple: The people will be better than that which represents them. Of course it didn't mean that they both slopped around the same pig trough trying to prove who was dirtier than the other. It meant
that the people rise above their own limitations and decide what is best for the whole society and then transmit that to the representatives in power. Short of that and what is produced
is the type of complexity so easily a mask of incompetence and corruption.
The people do not study the complexity and don't want it in their life. And the politicians are safely removed from the people, yanking out well-worn rhetorical devices to keep the people rounded-up and hoofed for the slaughter.
Despite that the people must decide several very crucial questions: What is the nature of American power? How are they going to wean themselves from cheap oil? How can they educate their sons and daughters for the 21st century?
The failure in Iraq requires a wholesale evaluation of American power and its uses. And I believe the terrorist threat is real and maybe even more threatening that it appears. It initiates
something that may get gruesome down the line and involve more than crazed, evil terrorists. It tells me that the American people had better think about the type of person to steer through these wild waters.
I came across this review by Richard Holbrooke in Foreign Affairs that, better than I, says what the
crucial moment this is in the life of the nation.
For gods sake, don't allow the elite's decide this question. It must be on the minds of all people, in whatever region they live in. Anything less is
tantamount to losing the democracy for good. It will never be recovered if a dedicated elite takes over foreign affairs because that is the field of
battle the United States will fight in for the rest of its days.
August 16, 2006
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