Presidential Elections and other Stories in the Meat Market
What would the perfect President do? That is an impossible question since a
President is always in relation to Congress, to other nations, to the public so
a "perfect President" is merely the reflection of my own sense of, if not perfection,
then reality. So the "perfect President" would do exactly what I would do if I was in the position to enact perfection.
Eventually, our sense of political reality is shaped by the party affiliation, by the candidates, by the press, by intellectuals of one stripe or another, and our experience in the economy. Our many experiences in the economy, one should add.
We jauntily accept the imperfection of the President as a man, especially now that the public sector is in a low state of esteem.
A more difficult task is in determining the nature of the state of the union. How does anyone determine whether the state of the union is good or bad? Or, whether the state of the union is healthy or ill? Or, any combination of those.
If I'm living in a hut along the freeway, the state of the union doesn't look too good. If I live in a glass house among the trees it looks mighty fine. But even in these conditions one should be able to leap out of their specific state of being and be able to grasp the state of
things, top to bottom.
I count six or seven generations of persons since the Constitutional Convention of 1787.
That is the history of six or seven generations of persons; my daughter, myself, my mother and father, my grandparents, my paternal great grandparents who come here
from Norway, the maternal generation before them who fought in the civil war, the generation of the Jackson era and frontier expansion, the generation at the beginning of the 19th century and the one previous to it.
- 1975- daughter
- 1950- myself
- 1920- parents
- 1890- grandparents
- 1860- great grandparents
- 1830- great, great grandparents
- 1800- great, great, great grandparents
- 1775- great, great, great, great grandparents
I have personally experienced four of these generations. The fifth one I know pretty well through photographs, the 6th one I knew because of their involvement in the civil war.
Certainly, a good deal of history passes through each generation.
The last one hundred years of American history is very palpable.
However, it is clear that the first four generations had more in common with the
ancient world or medieval Europe than it has with modern America.
The last several generations have been caught in the "media age." We have little perspective of it. It is our womb and marks us off from the progenitors. However, it is an aspect of the three dominant agents
that have taken us from bucolic America; that is, science, technology, and capital.
One can make a claim that appears outlandish at first: Four or five generations ago
a change occured where the machines got the upperhand and the people started to lag behind
in spirit. It may be a wild, literary claim but sometimes it's painfully clear that our time
will be remembered, not for any steriling human quality but for the technology it produces.
I am sure there are Washington's, Monroe's, Jefferson's, and Hamilton's walking around today but they have no choice in expressing themselves the way those gentlemen did six or seven generations ago. And that is the consequence of institutions that have crusted over and become mere machinery for the status quo.
Kennedy, JFK or RFK, may have been one of those exhalted types since they had the desire to be, the talents and the opportunities but they are the last that I can see. Everything since has been pretty fallow, pretty shoddy, pretty low. And not the least reason for this is that the center of the culture has shifted from one of citizen responsibility to one of personal pleasure. And as long as personal pleasure is the center of existence you will produce a leadership class full of entertainers. Entertainers will contain the supreme values that the people surrender to. That is, the freedom from constraint. And we look
at President Clinton's peccadillo's and President Bush's struggle with booze, along with the
recent election of the groper as governor of California.
This is the dangerous period that the U.S. is experiencing. It's as if we are attempting to drown out the sense of reality for the illusions of Hollywood or the sports field or the slick political operator. It will not, ultimately, happen. We are in the same position as
the drug addict or sex fetisher; eventually, the game becomes deadly serious and one either
fights for their survival or perishes.
It is the smart, secular portion of the citizenry that needs to wake up and move off the
pleasure center and put some fiber back into their political lives.
Posted January 12, 2004