As We See Them
The Aftermath: Presidential Elections and other Stories in the Meat Market
Brief Observations At the Still Point
After watching Newt Gingrich being interviewed by editors in New Hampshire,
we place a large bet that Mr. Gingrich is running for president in 2008. He was in
pretty friendly environs and came off looking well. He's going to position himself as
the "intellectual politician," who will raise the ceiling of political discourse
and be a mediating type of guy. That will be one of his tactics.
He believes his opponents will be the Clinton's. He didn't say that but he knows the Democrats are
clueless and without ideas. But, the Clinton's are an anomaly who have a special appeal to boomers
and all kinds of micro-cultures in this country.
American politics works when the thinking group understands the dialectics of
the "political forces" at play, now, for nearly 40 years. And then radically cuts
through the synthesis to the core of pragmatic American values. The Hegelian or
Marxist dialectic is for ideologues and extremists. America is greatest when it
is pragmatic and demands that ideas, even, work for a living.
A brief summation of the political landscape:
1960-1980 (Kennedy through Carter)
- The forward momentum of dissident groups (African-Americans, women, gays,
- Latching their grievances to a strong welfare state
- Creating the thesis for media and academia
1980-2000 (Reagan through Clinton)
2000-2005 (George W. Bush)
- The creation of an antithesis by three dominant groups: Fundamentalists,
Anti-Tax revolt, remnants of Buckley-type conservatism, neo-conservative
- End of Cold War
- Creation of computer/hi-tech era
- Division between red and blue
- Terrorist attack and wars in Middle-East
Obviously, this is not a complete list but it does outline why there
is a difference between the coasts (generally created by the "thesis") and
the interior (generally created by the "antithesis"). The fundamentalists reacted
to a two-pronged phenomena from that 60's era. One was the counter-culture and
the other was feminism. While there was sincerity in the fear of many people about
these things there was also very deft manipulation by clever types which, I suppose,
is an expression of the very art of politics. At the same time the middle-class was hit by this over-burdened
government, centered in the welfare state that tried to help everyone and remedy past
abuse. The 80's and 90's swept through and absorbed the previous time and created it's
own thesis. Pockets of the previous period still exist here and there.
Some points leap out:
- Women gained independence because of the expanding economy rather than "feminism" per se
which was tied back into "socialism." So, split loyalty by women who, reflecting on their
independence and success, had to support the basic underpinnings of a capitalist society.
So, "feminism" in the academic sense of the word floundered.
- The end of the Cold War justified Reaganism on a certain level. But, the end of the
Cold War also released new types of energy because the dreaded enemy didn't exist anymore.
So, much more opportunity for a new type of liberalism to emerge.
- The computer revolution justified the free-capital, entrepreneurism of the time but also
released new type of energy that can't be predicted. For the younger generation the internet
is like rock music was to the boomers; their first defining moment in the new world.
The problem in America is that it must remain a creative, forward-looking, alert nation
while fending off the fear imposed by the war on terrorism and threat of terrorism. When it stops in its
tracks it collapses on itself and is a terrible beast. Get the people sacrificing for a future that
is worth sacrificing for; instill a bit of "deferral of gratification," in them. Politics, obviously, can't
impose these values. In fact, the opposite occurs. The people impose their values on politics which
is why we see the comic book characters dancing illusions in front of the bedazzled people.
April 24, 2005
It's strange to go through an experience taught by the abstractions
of political thought but, there, in the flesh and mind spotted
where we are, exactly, on the map of time.
"Politics always moves in a pendulum from one extreme, back into
a still point, and then on out into the other extreme." The few political
thinking classes and journalism classes taught this fact. I applied
it when I got out of school and realized the assumed liberalism of
the 70's was the far-end of the pendulum and it was likely a swing-back
would start to occur. It began in the late 70's and then built momentum
through the first term of Ronald Reagan. It became a veritable tsunami
by the end of the 80's and has continued to this day, into the fifth year
of the new century without, apparently, abating.
Watching a few programs on TV over the week-end; panels of neo-conversative editors and out and out
conservative editors, Republican strategists and the like. The two main themes were, "what will the Democrats
do in 2008?," and, "what is the proper relation to foreign policy?" The Republicans have little to fear from
the Democratic party at this point. The Republicans are filled with that nasty swill, triumphalism, while the
Democrats are bankrupt. That is usually the moment a shift occurs, however slowly and inconspicuously.
Politics operates just as the business cycle operates. There are troughs and peaks and sliding up and down
to each and the moment a trough is reached a path is discovered back to the peak and at the peak the slope gets rather slippery.
How long it will take for this reversal to take place is anyone's guess. The unexpected crisis is usually the
catalyst. If President Bush is fully discredited by the "war on terrorism," it may signal that shift. If the
oil prices set off spiraling inflation that might do it. The Democrats have to be rather prudent at this
stage, admit their bankruptcy, go back to square one, and design policies that will do at least two
things. Support the cities and bring young males in the red states back into the belief that they have a future.
They have to be very positive about it, pro-active, and get rid of the final gasps from the radical 60's group.
The Republicans have nothing to fear from the Democrats. They should fear the Clinton's. Both of them
are ravished political animals and want the White House with burning passion; almost feel they
are entitled to it. They will be a formidable partnership because the only Democrat who can
reach the red states, especially the males, is Bill Clinton. Irony upon irony sets upon the Clinton's.
That is why, from a literary point of view, they are a fascinating story. The Republican elite's, the ivy-league,
privileged editors, talking heads, and "think tank" types despise the Clinton's. But, the males of the
red states, generally, like Clinton and have a closer affinity with him than with those "pointy-headed intellectuals,"
as the good ol' boy, George Wallace, used to call them.
This is a fascinating turn when you consider it's the Republicans who successfully pounded
the elite theme to the red-state males ever since Reagan.
And the Republicans have a great problem that the Clinton's can deftly manipulate. By being so right-wing,
way out there in the shadows of something that resembles Iran more than America, the Republicans have
opened up the center again. And the Democrats have to nest there. They won't be able to but the
Clinton's will. And they've proven over time to have much more loyalty to their political ambitions
and their desire to make history than to a silly old political party.
They will design their appeal to a broad-base of constituency and make it very clear
that they are a partnership. That Bill Clinton will be doing much of the work in the White House.
There will be complete transparency and the people will eat it up. If the people are electing actors
and wrestlers to state houses why not this arrangement? And by 2008, the people are going to be sick
of George W. Bush. And they are going to be rather nostalgic for that wonderful late 90's period I
called, The Clinton Bubble.
Everything will come together. We will finally admit that a woman can lead us. The poet will become a millionaire.
It's necessary to go back to the 1930's and the confrontation of the major
crisis of the day by President Roosevelt. This is further hammered home by
the debate on social security and how, even at this late date, there is no
enthusiasm for the Republican plan. The "New Deal" ushered in the new
era that ran up through Jimmy Carter. President Eisenhower did what Clinton
did; he pulled the "out" party back to the center.
Eisenhower is significant here because he understood that the Republicans
were going to have to shuck off the right-wing to win the Presidency. The lopsided
defeat of Goldwater cemented this and it wasn't until the backlash of the late
70's that the right-wing came into prominence. Gone was their McCarthyism or
their anti-Roosevelt diatribes. Gone was their association with crazy wealthy
men who wanted to be players in history.
April 13, 2005
The Democrats have a problem because the baby-boom generation is aging and as a population
ages it gets more conservative and it turns out more of the vote. The conservative
tsunami will continue, certainly not without opposition, and transform both the educational
system and the media. We can see that clearly in media as the new blogging watch-dogs
yip and yap at the heals of "big media." In the educational system a much more conservative
agenda will make its way to the fore; in fits and starts certainly. The judiciary will certainly
become more conservative. America will fall into that happy little sleep that occurs to
people whose strength has been zapped from them by "modernity" or the cruelties
of time or whatever it is. And we don't blame them for it.
There is always opposition, always resistance. But, for the liberal wing of the political
system to regain stature and power it must find a way to the high road. The entryway
to a new political era is the high road. That it corrupts and crumbles over decades is
fait acompli and yet, for the democracy to remain fresh it must be done.
Who spots the high road first is usually a prophet but of no use to the political world of
operatives and slick willies.
For the benefit of that prophet, male or female, let us list some of the stark things we
see casting an eye over the hard lines of the nation.
- Both fear and stability=paralysis
- A disturbing lack of knowledge among many citizens
- A brazen sort of hatred in the world against the United States, most of it unfair or purely
calculated ala the president of Venezuela.
- Gambling is becoming the central vice in the early part of the 21st century. Even state
governments are financing their budgets with casinos set up by native Americans.
- The need to transform the fuel system over this century from oil/fossil fuel based to a
It is usually the collapse of an economy that signals the beginning of a new era. The next
one will probably be no different. The conservatives will appear idiots as their economic
system goes down as it always does at some point. However, the savior will not be
socialism or some form of leftism but something new and spun away from the habitual
ways of thinking. The prophet who sees this and calculates this and sacrifices to gain
this insight will help mark the new era. All other are doomed to the dusty remains of our
period which will not be attractive to those trying to survive, "hard times."
The high road signals a kernel of truth that emerges whenever sincere people spot
or experience something rotten in the world they live in. It is usually spot on and can
become a wildfire through the wilderness of complexity and stupidity.
A reactionary era, such as the one we live in, is ultimately futile because the problems
do emerge and do suffocate the free people who become livid towards those who
support the status quo.
It is an era proud because it tolerates masturbation on stage and the fact it can throw
housewives into prison.
Do what thou wilt o wonderful era.....One wonderful consequence of studying history is that
all era's tend to blend in and become a mass of nothingness. Only that which peeks out of
history, that tries to find a way to the surface, survives. I think of the Constitutional Convention
and the strange, elitist types that framed the document. What beautiful, wonderful cats! Cats
as in the old beatnik sense of dudes, men, hipsters. They knew. And we should know. Anytime
an age produces knowers it should be aware that the knowers will be known to the future and
everything else; all the silk dresses and shy love-making under the frilly sheets, and the pissing
in the churchyard, and the slaves, and stupidity that you allowed as your "life" disappears.
It vanishes into nothingness like a cruel wind and wild dancers take the stage in blackface
to sing soulful songs of the plight of old slaves.
We live in an era of unmitigated gall. Of men and women who haven't lifted a finger on
behalf of the great American ideals yet claim its privileges.
April 3, 2005