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Presidential Elections and other Stories in the Meat Market

Politics is the least of our problems. Politics is eternal and fought between three types; those who have nothing, those who have everything, and those who have enough and don't want to lose anything that they have. Just about every variation has been sounded in the struggle between these types. It was that way in ancient China, in ancient Rome, in Louis IX France, in Bismarck Germany, and in 21st Century America. The political animal sizes up where he or she is at any given moment and gives loyalty to the voice that articulates that place in public.

Our goofy political culture is run by shallow, ignorant types like O'Reilly, Limbaugh, and the guy who did the dumb skits on Saturday Night Live. It doesn't count. It's an absurdity. What Jefferson and John Adams feared the most, has happened. The American people, swimming in luxury, have abandoned the political culture and are busy playing with themselves. And Jefferson predicted that when that happened, "the people will be devoured by the wolves..." And in those days, the wolves he referred to were the framers and founders of the government. Somewhere between the passivity of the people and the drug-induced rage exhibited by the California recall, exists some golden mean for the political culture.

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What can we really say to people who no longer think? If we were ambitious or evil we could send codes of manipulation to the elite class that they could use to enforce their rule but we are neither ambitious or evil. Unlike the academics of our generation we have pursued truth rather than power.

In a unique political culture like the one in America, in the end, only the dreams count. And we don't mean those fantasies of power that many confuse with vision. We look at the astonishing transformation of dream into reality through technology and realize one of the great problems of political culture is the bankruptcy of the spirit; the evisceration of dreams. We once dreamed of flight. And now it is so. We once dreamed of leaving the Earth. Now it is so. We once dreamed of long, healthy life and it is so for many people. The eternal aspiration for perfect justice is as natural as the desire for food or God's grace. It is built into us and can be the driving spirit behind new dreams.

The political culture is much more wounded by the dominance of the corporation than it admits to itself. As Enron showed, the corporation is not a liberal, democratic institution but a autocratic one where five or six people can sabotage it. And yet the corporation has the ability to impose its value at every step, through every means. And so the people who are dependent on the success of corporations begin to turn against the liberal, democratic values if they happen to run askew of the corporate culture. Corporations aren't charged to support liberal democratic values. To survive they need to keep solvent and reward their stockholders. The concept of a liberal, democratic culture becomes more unreal as the center of vitality spins through a corporate culture and its dominance of media.

The reversing of that polarity is perhaps the resuscitation of a dream rather than a new one.

Posted September 21, 2003

Heaven forbid that the experts would run our political system. In fact, we trust the instinct of the American people and understand their quarrels as well, at least, as they do. They understand that to be effective they have to keep the feet of politicians to the fire. But, a recall is disconcerting because it admits the failure of the people to do that very thing and, as a result, they get a puppet government for three years. A puppet government set up to ensure the re-election of President Bush in 2004. The favors given to the state of California will come with many strings.

"Well, then, know-it-all, what is the answer?"

There's no question that the citizen is knarled on by the expert. Most people want to consult experts but not have them swoop down in official government cars to tell them what to do.

The people, for one thing, need to spend at least as much time thinking about problems, politics, and the system that rushes through them as they do to football and sex. The more abdication there is among the exhalted people, the greater is the need for experts to run things.

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The American people have been described as apolitical. In reality, they are terrified of government and the complexity that greets them when they begin to try and understand it. This is at the core of one of the central problems of the democratic spirit in this day and age and why there is so much despair; why there is such a feeling of an ending. The crucible of the democratic spirit is that it believes it is always at the beginning. But, that beginning must be tangible and not simply a rhetorical device of the political class who have been taught to say such a thing.

The genius of the system is that nothing is absolute, nothing is fixed and permanent. All is transitory and in flux, including our ideas of the world and how to solve problems. In our personal lives we may not accept the impermanence of life but politically, it is necessary to do and to look at the crucial problems that grip the heart and mind of people.

And the extra burden for the American citizen is the necessity to look globally as an agent of his nation's place in history. We are now in history. We started as an anti-history, anti-empire sort of enterprise and now are smack dab in the middle of it and will be taken down by the old, ruthless, evil, conniving world if we don't get a bit prudent and wise. What does it mean for the government, as a state, to act wisely among other states? What are the authentic goals a state can have? What is the risk in acting? What is the risk in not acting?

Too many Americans are born with a few assumptions. The first is that he knows everything and what he doesn't know is not worth knowing, even a bit dangerous. The many look like the proverbial hollow man: Stuff him with a little religion, a little politics, a little energy, a little desire for money, then place him on the great undulating plasma of the country and watch him go! The many, in this case, control the marketplace and the vote.

Democracy is not mass rule or mobocracy; it is the finest liberation of energy possible in the human being. It is the desire to liberate others out of the sheer joy of doing so. It is mutual aid. It is the overcoming of every barrier. It is a practice that we take seriously. We reject every communal repression that is trundled out in the guise of being "democratic..."

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The more manipulative TV becomes, the more important newspapers and good magazines become. The frightening thing is just how much TV "teaches" the passive viewer that he is nothing but a satchel of opinion and prejudices dancing feebly around frightening images, complex events, and so forth.

The wise citizen is he or she who studies the systems that play through them.

Wise citizen, that studies the most significant objects of your era!

Posted October 17, 2003

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Previous Events:

War on Terrorism

The California Recall

The Progressive Era

What is a perfect President?

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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