Brief Impressions At the Still Point
By David Eide
"....don't just stain the dress, hit the egg....."
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Impressions of the phenomenon called Obama
"Pundits" are in a quandary about the phenomenon called Obama. It's like asking why Elvis Presley caught fire in the mid-50's. It's something you could think about for a long time but never figure out. Why did the Republicans go for an old actor in 1980 over a much more experienced, intelligent, well-connected candidate such as George Bush? There's no explanation as you sit down and look at their resumes as though you're hiring someone for a job.
Popular will wraps a person in a magical veil that protects the hero from "evil," such as critics, jealous lovers, power mongers and so forth. If this is truly the case with Obama then it doesn't matter what Hillary or anyone else says; their criticisms are seen as part of the hostile forces the people themselves are trying to avoid. And if it is carried through to the presidency then Obama will be permitted to do things he wouldn't be able to do during periods of normalcy. Any attempt to stop him will be met by the angry will of the people who, after all, are voters and consumers.
That is a significant change agent and creates new politics.
The central question is whether the people are really clammering for this sort of change; a change in the vector of national feeling or whether they simply want policy changes. Hillary is betting that they simply want policy changes and Obama is arguing that they want a change in vector first, then the policy changes.
It's practically impossible to know until the thing is settled.
Obama would show his immaturity if, at this point, right before the Texas and Ohio primaries,
he were to get as overconfident as Hillary was from the moment of the first debates back in 2007.
It's a curious connection perhaps but isn't Hillary's mistake about her campaign like President Bush believing all he had to do was drive Hussein out, capture Baghdad and all else would take care of itself? In like fashion Hillary believed the campaign against her rivals would end after Super Tuesday, things would take care of themselves to the convention where a turbo-charge of unity would propel her through September, October and victory in November.
* * * * * * * *
We are not at the end of this yet but it may finally come down to young, idealistic people pulling an old fabrication off her high-horse. Americans are notorious for doing that sort of thing.
* * * * * * * *
American culture is now rife with populism. What is the blogosphere but a direct, popular challenge to "professional pundits?" There is a "feeling" that Obama will open the Beltway, will open the channels of power and the people, themselves, will be the change agents. It's not provable ahead of time. It's just a feeling. And the voters instinctively feel that the Clinton's, despite the good things they might bring, would be a closed, command and control administration that would put the Beltway between themselves and the people. McCain too, for that matter. And that does make all the difference in the world.
If from the right, Gingrich says the system is broken and from the left Obama says it is broken and people everywhere say the system is broken what will fine-tuned policies be but fodder for the broken machine? Both Hillary and McCain will step out of the White House with detailed policy plans held up in triumph for the media and then they will be dropped into that vast paper shredder called the Beltway with thousands of lobbyists, cronies, policy experts and lawyers taking each shred and shredding it further until the mere piece of paper disintegrates without a trace.
The people are aware of this since they live in a real world. They are telling the professionals, including Hillary, they don't like the broken world propped up by their taxes. Obama is the only one who gets this. And why he has the inside track.
And If I Were A Democrat?
If I'm a Democrat I notice that the Clinton's engender a visceral negative response from, even, fair-minded people. It is death-knell to politicians.
If I'm a Democrat I want this thing over as quickly as possible. I don't want to go to the convention
and have a skunk fight between the Obama people and the Hillary people. And blacks are more
and more coming to the realization that an African-American has a decent shot at the presidency.
Win or lose Hillary has made it much more likely that a female will run successfully for the presidency, as long as she doesn't have a spouse who ruts in the Oval Office or has any
political ambitions himself.
If I'm a Democrat I see Hillary in steep decline and Obama with momentum that will not go away,
even if he's defeated in Texas and/or Ohio. How could any candidate have credibility after losing ten straight times in their own party primaries?
If I'm a Democrat I see the possibility of Obama appealing to a portion of Republican moderates who like many others are fed up with the broken system.
If I'm a Democrat I see Hillary shutting the Oval Office doors, working out an intricate plan for the next four years, trying to execute it from on top, and getting furballs out of the Giant Illusions she details in all-nighters with her husband.
If I'm a Democrat I'm asking myself, "why doesn't Hillary stay a Senator where she can do a great deal more for her pet projects and be a presence in the Senate for decades?"
If I'm a Democrat I see Hillary using the power of the president to get back at "enemies" who have made life miserable for the Clinton's.
If I'm a Democrat I see 1968 and especially 1972 all over again.
If I'm a Democrat I see Obama as a way to "start again," in ways that happen when the people are gasping from the stink of the old politics.
If I'm a Democrat I start to think through this question, "are the Clinton's more loyal to the Democratic party than themselves?"
If I'm a Democrat I start to wonder, "if the Clinton's take it to the end and lose will they take as many with them as they can?"
If I'm a Democrat I see John McCain and the demi-evil Republican operatives sitting back and letting the Democrats reveal all their weaknesses through a skunk fight between Obama and Hillary.
If I'm a Democrat I see a team that has just battered itself in a close, emotional win now lining up with a team that has had a few weeks rest and repair.
If I'm a Democrat the term "will of the people," means a lot more than "35 years of experience."
If I'm a Democrat I look at the differences between Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter. Mr. Carter was far more intelligent and experienced in the world than Reagan. One could argue he was a better man and more conscientious. And yet Reagan had leadership qualities Carter never possessed. It is who can lead in the direction of their choosing: Who is the natural leader?
If I'm a Democrat I notice that the old radical feminists are in the forefront for Hillary and that the critical mass of Americans are either pissed off at them or fearful of them. They have made this race a referendum on their gender rather than for the good and future of the United States.
February 26, 2008
Impressions of the Old Political Life
It is an exciting political time, not because of the debates or the endless comments, or the winnowing of candidates, even because of the high spirited energy of the young. It is an exciting time because the "time" is searching for a new thesis. The old political wars are done with, burnt-out, trapped by useless language tricks. Politics, in that sense, is like the endless reruns of Perry Mason shows where everyone plays their role and says what has to be said and after the fifteenth time even the most distracted and lazy of people is able to figure out who did it, why, and so on.
We see the tired commentators on both the left and right making old arguments, old and common rages against the stick figures they've given names to, old and bankrupt raison d' et for "our point of view," and so on. This is understandable since careers are dependent on these old wars.
But, for real political excitement let a new thesis be created and taken up by the next administration in power. Let it dominate, let it percolate for a decade or so. Let us see who reacts to the thesis and how.
I believe Obama would spurt the growth of a new thesis quicker than the two others. But even if Hillary or McCain is elected, things and ideas that are seeds now will begin to flourish in three,
four, five years.
It feels that way. The discrediting of the old politics, left and right, should be in full gear by that time. They will be embarrassments.
Impressions of Race and Gender
It's unfortunate that race and gender are "deciders" in the minds of some people. It was unfortunate that the jury nullified the facts in the O.J. trial. But, there is a large history where race and gender were used against the nullifiers and deciders of our own day.
Race, gender, a few issues and how much money you have in your pocket has become central in our day for deciding leaders.
But the dominance of demographic politics, as it is now being called, is a wonderful opportunity to look over the history of the last forty years to see how ideas, movements, and pure irrationality come to dominate a culture which in turn manifests it in its politics. It's not a pretty picture because it enforces the stereotypes and nasty emotions which, presumably, one would want to be liberated from. Hillary's "cry" being one of these spurious moments that people will scratch their heads about in the future.
It looks to me as if it will be "easier" to elect a black man than a female for president. For one thing, most intelligent people realize that the experience of blacks in the U.S. has been profoundly different than the experience of females. The election of the black man would close some wounds and herald a new era of politics. Whites don't have the intimate relations with blacks that men, say, have with females. It's the complex relations between men and women that creates some of the irrational animosity towards Hillary. Many people have difficulty in associating the obvious historic oppression of black people with the "oppression of females." The difference is that between Dolly Madison or Martha Washington and the slave women who lived at the same time. And I would like to have Hillary explain to me how equal a poor black woman is to her and if not then does she carry the brunt of shame and guilt? And then do we expect policies shaped by shame and guilt?
* * * * * * * *
How can "race" or "gender" be categories of significance unless those categories are invested with great meaning? And if they have great meaning don't they become "myths." And don't great "myths" eventually fight to the death with each other? And didn't we fight a great war based on the fact that two races, the German Nazi's and Japanese, believed they were superior races?
Most political types who have some experience understand that race and gender are very easily used to manipulate people in whom the myth of race and/or gender has lodged. These are simply one more in a long train of irrational modern myths that have wreaked havoc.
It's unfortunate because the choosing of leaders should come down to trust, connection, and the ability to make command decisions. And hopefully all three are in play in one man or woman, in a society that has moved beyond race and gender because progress is dependent on it.
In the case of Hillary gender will trump these qualities with a large group of people. But the same could be said about Obama, McCain, and Huckebee.
In the case of Hillary much will be based on how mature the relations between men and women have evolved the last forty years. During the red hot vacuum of the 70's gender was reduced to a null point where it was either my gender or your gender. The zero-sumness of this struggle radiated into every city, town, and village because men and women hang around each other in ways that create drama. Every man, even the homeless guy, has a mother.
The truth of the matter is that traditional roles disintegrate in the transition from a scarcity-economy to a surplus-economy as happened through the 20th century. The buzz word is "personal freedom" rather than "rally round the flag" or "pull together, all for one, one for all."
The pulling and tearing apart of traditional relations is duly recorded and commented on and the pain lingers in individual people who vote.
The mature mind finally asks rhetorical questions of those in conflict over gender and race. "Does not the freedom of one gender mean more freedom for the other? Does not more freedom for one race mean more freedom for the other?"
* * * * * * * *
The traditional roles and the ferocious competition for scarce resources returns with a complete collapse of economy. If a people is lucky at any rate.
* * * * * * * *
A citizen is a powerless but free person who develops a relation to politics and governance. What works? What is power supposed to do? What has been done in the past? What thoughts have guided politics and governance in the past?
Meanwhile the machinery grinds onward. If the machinery destroys the loyalty the citizen has with the system of governance then evil has won the day. If the free but powerless citizen is able to stand his or her ground and see through the machinery to the possibility behind it then a bit of light has won the day.
From a historic point of view "demographic politics" belongs to a transitory phase as the politics post-civil war was or during the first 25 years of the 20th century. It marks a period. It believes in itself. It thinks its done something wonderful. And then is a mark for jokes and parodies before being forgotten altogether in time.
This fabled maturity that one would like to see in the public sector can only come through all the major participants of the demographic age. That is, whites, males, women, blacks, Asians,and Hispanics. One sees defensiveness in whites and males, irrational will-to-power in women, blacks and Hispanics; it's a dynamic relation with no one really at fault. If I'm a black man in this society and have to choose between a black man and a white man I'm probably leaning towards the brother. As long as the black man is vetted and qualified.
It doesn't end there of course because once you have a demographic-public-life it must work together, it must create alliances past the threshold of the demographic. That may be a large story in the 21st century. And it is appropriate that a nation of such mixture would try to integrate on a level heretofore unprecedented. The question is whether it will identify itself as one people or as a half-dozen identities who fight over resources. Will identity trump region, industry, religion, class as the thing that defines political loyalty?
And what free person would want to grow up destined because of who he or she is at birth?
Each age has its necessities and its inanities, sometimes emerging out of the same source.
February 11, 2008
Impressions on the South Carolina primary.
It's hard to say what but something of moment passed tonight. Perhaps it was the presidential
speech Senator Obama gave, perhaps it was the way in which he deftly pinned in those two
political horn-dogs, the Clintons. Perhaps it was the authentic and emotional appeal to unity that
has not sounded as good as Obama made it sound since the 1984 speech by Gov. Cuomo in San
But it sounded like a winner. And it sounded completely correct.
For a moment it appeared as if the divides had come down. As if the prospect of human nature
working together in ways not seen for a long time could be realized. Good, common sensible, intelligent human nature and not that thing calculated by the Clinton's all based on "triangulation,"
false statistics, lies, and folksy sentimentality.
Maybe the people are much more upset by the direction of the country then the cynical Clinton's had counted on.
Whatever it was, it was emotional and real.
Hillary made a speech in Tennessee and it was an old-time politician's speech replete with "I'll give you'all everything...this for you, that for you, much for you'all, that for you'all, it's Christmas in America."
No one believes this old political rhetoric anymore. For the presidency it comes down to the three or four very significant decisions, life and death, that the president will make, alone, with the knowledge of consequence on his or her shoulders. That is what the people should nail down when they think long and hard about the presidency.
I doubt seriously that Hillary would have done any different than President Bush given the same intelligence reports on her desk and the memory of 9/11 still fresh. The results would have been pretty similar because there would not have been time or incentive in a Hillary Clinton presidency to re-make the military or intelligence in 2001. To be fair I doubt if Al Gore would have done anything differently.
* * * * * * * *
It's interesting to me that the Kennedy clan seem more disposed toward Obama than Hillary. The Kennedy's, Bushes, and Clinton's represent the most profound infection of "family" in world power since the Roman Empire. We blame the people for their laziness and inability to penetrate the hypnotic hold of money and celebrity but it takes two to tango. There is deft manipulation on the part of these families especially as they cultivate the cultural myths that have grown up around them. I think the Kennedy's see the Clinton's as minor league, upstarts from the oaky/arky land with some ivy league credentials to overpower the ignorant types down there.
One could term it the corruption of the public but I think it is pure laziness on the part of the people who have given up their sovereignty to powerful families since most families in the U.S. have been devastated by divorce, addictions, poverty, or declining wages.
One waits for that electric moment when an ambitious wife pours poison in the ear of the doddering fool of a husband or uncle and changes history.
In fact, it is a fascinating study to watch Bill absolutely sabotage Hillary. He's beginning to catch on to the fact that she used him much more effectively than the other way around. He appears to be a big white pussy and some natural resentment has kicked in. "Oh big white pussy whytofore art thou so?"
"I ain't no big white pussy, I is an ex-President and can make my own way!" So he snarls at the easy-to-despise stick, the journalist.
Ah, the era we live in.
Common sense says that Hillary would be more powerful and loved in the Senate, years in duration, where she could wield enormous power and actually get a few of things she promises done. And that Bill should get that deep therapy he needs so he can penetrate and heal those profound emotions he keeps evading by his passive/aggressive behavior. And Obama would end the last 40 years of strife and open the floodgates to the future through which the people would pour and start to build a new horizon.
Common sense, however, is usually trumped by the raging ego.
* * * * * * * *
The American people have no one to blame but themselves. They grew rich and fat during the past 25 years and it's all become a game to them with hardly any consequence. They hardly know what is in store for them up in the next several decades. They don't penetrate the high school level campaign rhetoric, they are terrified of confronting the shadows of their own culture, they waddle through time now hoping Oprah will save them. The intelligent ones realize that their fine-tuned minds are meaningless in a society where one good mind confronts thousands of minds turned to superstitious mush by mass media or out and out fear they can't deal with. They are looking for cartoon characters to tell them what their reality is.
It is a sad and tired era and why Obama is so appealing. We need pure idealistic, naive nature! One that says, "begin again......"
End the past forty years of strife, conflict, idiocy that has resulted in the last seven years of tragic ineptness. End it. The Clinton's and Republicans thrive on it. End it and shift into a new direction as all good American generations have done because they did not fear the future.
January 29, 2008
Impressions on American culture.
To be effective America must always remake itself, renew its core ideas but break out in ways that
few appreciate and, in fact, ways that are never discussed in political campaigns.
Every generation it decides whether it wants to remain a liberal democracy or give up the ghost to some scheme that is old as Adam. The boomers gave up to any number of schemes but did assert the power of the individual. Their children are awfully quiescent.
The more intelligent and imaginative the break-out the better. It is more than a few ecstatic dances in the summer wind.
Whether we wait a few decades more for some profound break-out or it is upon us now is a question that will be revealed by time.
That break-out would require the mind and spirit to go beyond the structures now in place. It would require an imagination that would go out and capture the next thousand years as its own.
It is a necessary sort of romance in a gargantuan nation-state, unprecedented, and dependent on its vital myths.
A person imbued by this spirit can't help but be depressed by the candidates. Their pure calculations require a lack of humor, intelligence, and imagination. It requires a salivating lack in the person that he or she believes the government will satisfy. Or, some magical, ignorant belief that the government will transform them into new people.
Government exists as a weight. Sometimes it is a good weight but it never loses it sense of being a terrible anchor just when the people want to get up and sail into the new sun.
The most effective politician of our day called government an evil and treating it as such seems to do more good than harm. The evil isn't going away and yet the free citizens can dance around it and hypnotize its evil eye with fresh ambitions.
The tired heaving and sighing of the public as it counts its pennies and aspires to buy things is sheer boredom. Better that they were out fighting for a future that means something.
The poor American reduced to money-monkeys! Dominated by real money with the imposing will of machines to finish the deal.
And ever unable to break out of the roles assigned to him, the "free American" man and woman.
We are supposed to extoll the American as writers were once called on to extoll the Soviet-worker as hero of the people. No, we bend over the open trench and vomit a few times at what this breed of men and women has become. Their dumbness has conquered. Their superstitions rule the land. Their blatant fantasies create the market.
And so we sadly conclude that freedom is a very tough nut and requires more from the people than they are willing to give in this day and age.
The candidates can not express this and only one is trying to do something about it. And that is Obama.
Impressions on the Democratic Party.
Are the Democrats the weird nuts they appear to be? Well, they are narcissistic and embroiled in conflicts a long-time coming.
The Clinton's reveal themselves as that two-headed political animal that will run over anyone in the way, use
whomever it is necessary to use, and try to destroy all enemies. And if the Democrats buy into it they will be as guilty as the Republicans who bought into GWB.
* * * * * * * *
Back in the good old days there was enormous tension between the civil rights people and the feminists. Let us say there was dislike between African-Americans and privileged white women of the upper middle-classes. It was quite evident that the privileged white women of the upper middle-classes slip-streamed the honorable civil rights movement and got more of the booty. Affirmative action was much more successfully deployed by privileged white women than African-Americans. And then the privileged white women could parlay their leverage into marriages with privileged white men and make lives no one else could possibly reach. To say this is not a tension in the Democratic party for three decades is quite ignorant.
Well, this is the nest the Democratic Party has made for itself.
The Democrats have to decide very quickly if they are going to go for a very unlikable, transparently bad couple who think they can turn the clock back to 1998 and a likeable leader who could effect a shift ala Kennedy or Reagan. And if they split in two and fight like cats, the Republicans retain the White House, a fact no one in their right mind would want.
The Clinton's have made the Democratic party dysfunctional and toxic again. Doesn't anyone in that party care? Don't they have any sense at all?
"35 years of experience" is a meaningless phrase if the system is broken. What is "35 years of experience" going to do but add its own measure of filth to it?
Even an amateur psychologist can see clearly that Bill Clinton is an archetypal saboteur; he tried to bring down his own presidency and almost succeeded. Now he will bring down his wife's campaign.
These are not the people you want in the White House. The young people are quite right in their instincts.
Of course, what is honest opinion and instinct against the ferocious mad machine the Clinton's possess?
January 22, 2008
Change, that worn-out and meaningless phrase, needs some boundary.
The only way change, in the political sense, will take place is if one candidate can shift the dynamics to put the people between the President and the Beltway rather than the other way around.
That is the only way the people will be affirmed and re-moralized. It won't make a bit of difference if you get a brilliant policy-type in there or an old war veteran if the Beltway stands between the President and the people.
Challenge is another one of these phrases that means everything and nothing. "I challenge you to stop smoking." "I challenge you to throw away your SUV's and buy electric cars." "I challenge all human beings to be kind and funny for the rest of our days." "I challenge the Moon to merge into Mars and become a new planet." I challenge God to reveal Himself in the eye of a
frog." And on and on and on it goes. The professional politicians throw out challenges all the time to prove to the people they are leaders. It's part of the ritual of power but fails nearly everytime because the powerful never demand anything real from the people.
The old-time politicians like Hillary and the Republicans are subpar mythologers in this regard but realize performance is all. It's a naughty trick considering what is at stake but it has been played from day one. Perform well for the people, get in the White House, shut the doors and start paying off friends, allies, money-supporters while basking in the drug of power; a drug that will convince even the most evil character that he is really doing the work of God. The only difference in a good democracy is that people can paint pictures of the powerful leader with his or her pants down by their ankles.
* * * * * * * *
"Who is going to shift the collective emotion so that a new future can be born?" It's a rather portentous question but relevant considering the tasks ahead and the vulnerability that the "strongest superpower in the world" finds itself in. And should the citizens be reminded by these old-time politicians, that the "2nd strongest superpower" fizzled without a fight when reality smacked it between the eyeballs? And that the American citizens had better fight like hell before reality smacks them between the eyeballs?
You can't have an energized government without an energized populace.
* * * * * * * *
The Aegean Beltway is filled with manure and the stink is so bad all parties, all political philosophies are blended together in the grand odor. It is the stink forty-years in duration.
For all the positives Hillary puts forward she will only enter the Stables to deliver her own set-of-manure-details and, despite the pink ribbon tied around them, it will smell the same as the others.
Obama is the only one with the will behind him to try and divert the clean river of American populism through the stinking stables.
But that populism is made up of magnificent goofs who are either very honest but decades behind the times or very wicked and straight-up in the center of the times ready to manipulate anyone and anything for some lust we can only identify after the fact.
* * * * * * * *
This is an excellent description and analysis of the Clinton Years in the 90's; years that I don't believe were distinguished. They were filled with squandered promises as some have pointed out. They were built on the dot.com bubble and the vacuum of the collapsed Soviet Union and end of cold war. I don't fault Clinton for "triangulation."
I always called Clinton, "the best Republican president we've ever had." It didn't bother me at all because it was necessary to
marginalize the remnants of the old democratic block, sever it, and move on into a much more moderate future. Inasmuch as that happened he was successful. But he was a great failure overall because the people gave him a mandate in 1996 and it all got sucked away by sheer adolescent folly. The "bridge to the future" collapsed into the abyss and the boy-king took over as a kind of ridiculous spanking to the Democrats. The reasonable, thoughtful and good Al Gore was the penultimate victim. Why the Democrats suppress this in themselves is quite odd.
When, however, the people are as disgusted as they seem now a new fundamental break with "the way things are," seem in order. That is done by a kind of mystical leadership Reagan and Kennedy had, the people then inserting themselves between the leader and his foes and critics as they did for Reagan and a fundamental shift, not simply in policy but in ways of thinking, takes place.
So the qualities to look for are trust and connection. It can't be faked. It can't be triangulated.
Trust, connection, and vision.
Hillary and her alleged competence will land us in a sticky, muddy thicket because she promises everything for everyone. She's an old-time politician and just because she has breasts and a pudenda shouldn't obscure the fact. She promises to take from the rich bastards and give to the poor slobs she makes into heroes whenever she speaks to them. But she knows that the wealthy are more powerful than her platitudes
and it gives her confidence that she can make the rich the enemy. She
does so for the same reason as Chavez does. It shifts attention from their own short-comings.
* * * * * * * *
The reason politicians, Republican and Democrat, are reviled is that the people have caught up with the game that is being played. The parties have learned that if they can improve the lot of certain segments of the population for short durations, enough to keep their loyalty, they can keep power. But it always wears off, it always is a thin bandage applied to where the wound is filled with passionate voters.
* * * * * * * *
The Clinton's are not bad people, evil people or any number of slanders they've suffered over the years. From a literary point of view they are a fascinating political couple. But they belong to another era whose days are quickly passing. They charm all the people they will, eventually, use for their own purposes like good politicians. If elected, they will work hard on a few issues that will gain them the votes for the '12 election. But they will not effect the shift that the people, in their heart of hearts, are rabid for. And they are rabid for it because the people have greater instinct for the survival of the culture than the politicians behind the Beltway.
They know what is at stake is far more important than the clever ability of the political class to read "analysis of the concerns of the people," and rat-a-tat-tat a line of stats or rhetoric to appease them.
If Hillary wins it will only mean that the people have not matured enough to deserve the shift they so desire. They will have been tricked a thousand ways and install in the Oval Office smoke and mirrors. And if Hillary wins and walks around the Oval Office will she see some imprint of the young intern on her knees marking the end of the "bridge to the future?" And does anyone remember the "bridge to the future?" And how, in 2000 the economy was great, the Soviets gone, the terrorists scarcely a worry and Al Gore ready to succeed to POTUS? But for the "scandal" it would have happened and yet the Democrats don't seem to be able to lay the burden of responsibility at the foot of the Clinton's. And that tells me that there is an enabling factor that belongs to dysfunctional families rather than great Republics.
And without a doubt the "cultural wars," of the past few decades have all been about families.
Or, more precisely, about the Family.
We need for a radical break-out of new thinking, new feeling, new ideas, new vision which is smothered by the Clinton's "control/command" form of doing things.
Impressions on Silly Questions a Citizen might Ask
There are questions a person has when entering his or her role as citizen. Some are very basic. For instance, "is it even good to have a government?" This is especially acute as a question when young and the government is a vague and meaningless power. It is the power youth is suspicious of.
Experience, if not knowledge, tells a person that government is necessary because in its absence would come a deadly struggle over "who will control?" It is usually a strong-arm tyrant who takes advantage of the chaos. There is, then, no absence of government only transmutations of power. So what type of power is best?
After some research one finally settles on a democratic republic and says, "well, it's not a perfect set-up but by taking on the problems it does, it permits me to chase after my own aspirations and goals."
Then the question is, "well, what is the government you live with best suited to do?"
- Is it an internal and external policeman keeping warring parties from killing each other while ameliorating conditions in its own domain?
- Is it one but not the other?
- Is it a marauder whose sole purpose is to bring booty to the people?
- Is it there to protect the sovereignty of the people?
- Is it there to be used by the democratic people in ways of their choosing?
The next question to ask is, "would the United States be better as a united sovereignty or is it better broken up into regions, each region with its own flags, armies, currency, languages even?" Here
one pauses a bit. Hmm.
But the break-up of the U.S. into regional states would require trauma after trauma and we, the living, would never see the benefit. We would only experience the decline of the federal state.
If it is a necessary thing then what would damage it? What would make it more a burden than a structure that permits the lifting of burden?
Certainly if it acted on behalf of one small group and no one else.
Certainly if the critical mass of representatives were corrupt and permitted that to happen.
Certainly if it undermined the principles of liberty and destroyed the protection the people have against the aggressions of the goverment.
Certainly if the critical mass of citizens were so disgusted by the government they let it go as a concern and so the government became a free-wheeling entity driven by a few corrupt people. Eventually the citizens would be bled dry of their hard-earned money and freedom.
Certainly if the government got so complex and beast-like that it was not even manageable by hordes of ivy-league professionals brought in to manage it. In this scenario the people will go to the circus while their grandchildren are shocked when Attila comes knocking at the gates.
January 15, 2008
Impressions of the Iowa Caucus
Iowa has said, "it's time to say goodbye to the Clintons, the Bushes, the Kennedys, the Reagans. It's time to stop allowing powerful families ruling the roost and start energizing a torpid nation."
And if that is simply me saying that rather than the good people of Iowa I'm sure they meant to say it.
America is in the tragic phase of its development because it is larded over in power and wealth. The citizens have become mere imitations of this and see their prime civic duty as making enough money to pay the taxes for the fat government and live life as though tomorrow never comes. They resent the tax part and curse it. But they do not engage in the ways that will allow the liberal democracy to be saved which is always through sacrifice, vision, knowledge, healthy experience, and belief that the act of democracy is a good and positive act.
Perhaps the good people of Iowa have changed that.
Americans view power like the odd characters who flit in and out of the Soprano's. It's a charge to be around the family but best not to mess around in its affairs.
* * * * * * * *
People give up on democracy just as they give up on life; that is, when their experience of disillusionment is more powerful than the mythology they have been given to overcome it, whether that mythology is religious or secular.
In the case of America it's very size, power, wealth and seemingly invincible double-hull put people in a kind of stupor. They are like the first passengers of the Titanic on an ocean of glass and a full moon is rising and the ship effortlessly glides, bringing with it a brisk wind. The people wander the decks with fine liquor, make love down in the state rooms, and have exotic meals with conversations of intrigue, rumor, and gossip. And one man stands on the deck and looks out over the still Atlantic and says to no one in particular, "life doesn't get any better than this."
And within several hours the people are screaming for their lives as the ocean swallows them whole with hardly any effort on its part.
The people can't afford this sort of self-satisfaction and must drive their instinct for freedom and survival through the self-satisfied political class. And do it now. And do it before it's too late.
* * * * * * * *
The thesis for our time was created in the down and dirty 70's when the boomers
were demoralized and disillusioned by the politics of Vietnam and Watergate, the establishment
in general. The antithesis was created by the naive, pseudo-idealistic fundamentalist cum conservatism of the Reagan years.
So we are here. The living moment, the living edge.
When the thesis and antithesis have burned themselves out it is a exciting opportunity for those who have let go of both the thesis and the antithesis.
It demands, for one thing, leadership by force of personality ala Schwartzenegger and, possibly, Obama. It gobbles up old-time politicians like Hillary Clinton, Biden, Guiliani, even McCain. It does so because a new opportunity, a new opening demands a kind of irrational faith the people throw on its chosen leader. Old-time politicians are usually old dogs who know everything about the master and anticipates him very well. But, the master changes and the old dog is left sniffing the air in confusion while the new dog knows exactly what to do.
This happened in 1960 when the more experienced, competent, even more intelligent Richard Nixon was defeated by a younger, inexperienced JFK. And for all the criticism Kennedy has received about the inability of his administration to do anything in Congress, it was his force of personality that moved the government and the society into a new phase of development. His martyrdom sealed the deal, at least until the highly problematical late 70's. And it shouldn't be overlooked that one of the changes at that time was the removal of barriers for African-Americans to enter the society and gain benefit, even get leadership roles.
It didn't happen by itself.
Hillary reminds me more of Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter than anyone else. On the one hand she has a delicate, sensitive nature that has been transformed into a beastly thing not trustworthy. This seems to be a terrible cost to sensitive types who stand up in the public arena. And she is a control-freak like those two men and demands to be on top of every detail and, before long, she has moshed her personal debilities into the ways and means of governance. Even if she wasn't facing a critical mass of irrational resistance, her administration would be bogged down in obsolete pc'ism, old-time vendetta's, old-time compromises, old-time secrecy.
Obama may be an authentic change-agent like the inexperienced stud or the old-time actor. And the people are wild for it. New faces, new agendas, new horizons, new skills, new dreams, new attitudes, new paths to new futures. The people are wild for it.
January 4, 2008
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