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The Aftermath: Presidential Elections and other Stories in the Meat Market


Brief Observations At the Still Point

The most hateful denizens seize power when the people are scared. That is the terrible truth. And the hateful, eventually, ruin the people and the nation and must be taken from the scene. They must serve time in a Hell reserved for those who are disconnected from the suffering of people. They must be led into the cave of demons who will deal with them with tooth and claw. Poet's, above all others, understand the anger of the betrayed. So, the betrayers lie and laugh; they lie and laugh and shift the blame elsewhere and are the gargoyles one spots on medieval fountains in some ancient city.

Brilliance is nothing but the mask of evil. It can be. Especially if that brilliance is responsible for the deaths of men and women better than, even, the brilliant man. And so a certain anger, a certain bursting at the center of the soul arises at the acts of evil brilliance. Something lets loose. A torrent. A terrible sky appears one late summer. And the innocent only weep for their nation.

* * * * * * * *

No one can blame people for feeling passive in front of the events that tromp across the screen or the mind on a daily basis. Very few of us are actors in the events of the time. But all of us must have a relation to what goes on if we consider ourselves free. And we have that particular American prejudice that Teddy Roosevelt had that those bloodied in the ring are more noble than those who sit outside and criticize. Nonetheless, few of us are direct actors in the history of the time.

Many years ago I covered a riot in Berkeley, CA for a local newspaper. This was a consuming, exhausting, dangerous affair that had cops chasing protestors, protestors chasing cops; it had humor and pathos, flowers in gun barrels and cracked bones. I was standing next to this big, bearded guy and he got nailed in the center of his forehead with a rock thrown on the otherside of the street, intended for a police car spewing out tear gas from under the chassis. It was a national story many years ago. But, in the larger scheme of things it leaves hardly a trace. In Facts on File, a bare mention that underestimated the crowd count. In other references, a bare whisper. And at the time I thought to myself, "this is the biggest thing I've ever been in." It was a few months before the killing of students at Kent State. Events disappear and reappear like old stage plays. But as someone said, "the first time history occurs it is tragedy, the second time it is farce."

Our history is not so much in these little events we think are so big. Our history is written very large; the effects of technology, the good, bad, and ugly of science, vast populations supportable by modern economy that is driven by cheap oil, the penetration of space, among other things. It is blowing through us without sentimentality and leaves nothing in its wake but nonplussed human beings. In that sense we are all actors in history and pay attention for a reason.

Many give up the need to try and understand out of the sheer frustration of it. Others become convinced that human nature, history, and even the future are so filled with evil all we can do is tend our little gardens and live as gracefully as we can. Many of the good-willed do what they can in anonymous pursuits based on their belief that things can be better. Those, too, are actors in history.

It was Ghandi who said that human beings can do very little but the very little they can do is vastly important. That is a true perception and one that resolves the terrible problem of wanting to be big and powerful but ending up small and barely significant. If you surrender to either side of this equation it creates grave problems but if you resolve the equation then something decent gets done.

July 13, 2005

As I wrote back in November 2002, "The Democrats are in serious trouble and need a radical change to be effective in the first quarter of the 21st Century." I read those notes back after looking through an article in the SF Chronicle about the Congressional Progressive Caucus, described as a "government in waiting." I have my doubts, although I admire anyone stepping up to challenge the Republicans. The problem for them is that there is nothing new in their proposals. And those proposals were defeated for a reason. You could only get universal access to affordable, high-quality health care, and raise the minimum wage when the loyalty of people shifts from the private to the public sector. It will happen but later rather than sooner in my humble opinion.

The disgust for the private sector has to reach a certain threshold or critical mass before the people go out and find a new TR or JFK. There are certainly chinks in the armor in the private sector. One is the malfeasance issue. And the other, more important one, is the offshoring of American jobs to Asian economies who will not permit offshoring back to the Americans who will be willing to do minimum wage jobs. We point out, again, this opinion piece in the Baltimore Chronicle by Paul Craig Roberts. He indicates a continual shift of capital from the West to the East due to a number of factors. Obviously, nothing is forever but his point is that unless there is a remedy from the federal government, things could get very dicey. So, we expect some battles along this front.

The progressives have huge obstacles. For one, there is no charismatic leader in sight, akin to a Ronald Reagan, who could transform the attitude in this nation as Reagan did. Hillary can't. Hillary is a brilliant political animal but lacks the character to effect a shift. For another, the private sector will be a formidable block unless there is a wholesale reappraisal as there was during the Vietnam era. And era's can't be fabricated. For a third, there simply is no momentum for it among the young. The young can change in surprising ways but we don't see them sacrificing themselves to the maw of bigger government. For a fourth, until the terrorism threat is cleared up the federal government will be a principle actor in planning and executing strategies versus the terrorists and not a leader in social policy. While "socialism" and "liberalism" will lose their sting as negative buzz words through time, the people don't want the government to be the sugar daddy.

What something like the Congressional Progressive Caucus can do is shine light on the shadows of the current administration and, perhaps, get a few changes underway.

The progressive era in the 21st century will have to wait for the unpredictable confluence of events and ideas. Meanwhile, it should focus on the larger questions that neither government nor politics can handle at this point. One of those is the shift of the energy system from fossil fuels to other fuels, besides nuclear. Another is a massive effort to re-educate the citizens for the 21st century.

July 5, 2005

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Previous Events:

Post-election 2004

Election 2004

On Political Culture

On the Debates

War on Terrorism

The California Recall

The Progressive Era

What is a perfect President?

On Political Culture

On JFK Assassination

The Clinton Bubble

The state of things


Affirmative Action

Liberals and Nuders

The Trent Lott Affair

Why the Democrats are in Trouble

The Uncertain Decade

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