As We See Them
Presidential Elections and other Stories in the Meat Market
Bits and Pieces before the Crowds Roar
So, where are your solutions?
That's finally all one can ask of the successful candidate and his party. One of the excellent stages of
growth for the citizen is that moment when it's no longer necessary to be utterly right. A good citizen wants
the decision-makers to be right and to make things work well. There is no pride in being right or shame in being wrong. Just be fair and truth-seeking and call it
like is. So we weigh the balance of things. What is the cost of the war in Iraq next to its benefit? What is the cost
of the Patriot Act next to its benefit? We do this before elections and after to make sure the inevitable wool isn't
pulled over our eyes and we exclaim in the darkness, "I can see now!"
I ask this of the red people who voted in President Bush and are now running things.
"Where are your solutions to
problems that will, eventually, overwhelm and destroy this society?" Where are they? "What is your
solution to the problem of global warming and scarcer and scarcer resources until, even, the
infamous SUV owner will have to pay heed? Where is your solution to the growing divide in this county that will eventually
pull it apart? Where is your solution to the enervation of vision that stops this nation in its
tracks and keeps it on a very destructive path?
Where is your solution to the problem of growing isolation of America in the community of nations; in this, the most dangerous period of time in human history?
Where? Where is it? It's your country. It's your government. What are you doing?"
We are not in this together. The people voted against intelligence; they voted for a dummy mythology. The President is required now to dance with snakes in the backwoods of Tennessee.
And we are not happy about it. "It's your society. Your problems. You deal with it as it begins to unravel. As it begins to
collapse and be taken down by so many forces that you can not see." The truth is, you have no
solutions. You have nothing but force.
December 2, 2004
"So, now that your side has lost what are you going to do for the next four years?" My beautiful
Muse asked me that shortly after the election, a week ago. "Muse, I'm going to play and try to make a little bit of money." Since that conversation I've gone around and read a variety of
publications, political in nature. The progressives are fighin' mad and the leaders of that group see an opportunity to rally the troops. There is something resonant and correct about this. But as you read through their analysis and fears of the 2nd Bush Administration they sound like anything other than reborn citizens. One of the persistent themes in their writing is the "culture wars" between the red and the blue. And they are upset because precisely what should happen is happening; that is, local churches are taking over from the welfare state the care of people. The welfare state was the liberals Vietnam and they have never let it go. If the culture war is between local control or statism I'll go with the reds, thank you. And out in the blue
land we know that the churches can be liberal as well as conservative. The welfare state was one of the most dehumanizing instruments ever concocted.
It's quite clear that the welfare state will only be reinstated when the society as a whole
suffers a catastrophic failure in the economy. It will happen, no one can predict when. But until something like the Great Depression occurs, no political party will be able to resurrect belief
in it. It is one of the albatrosses carrying the left out into the depths of the sea.
Religion is not the issue. The real issue is the failure on the part of those who are
pure blue or pure red to shuck off the barriers that keep them from knowing their own country.
And it usually comes down to inexperience, ignorance, intolerance, and a few other qualities that America was set up to fight. It literally doesn't matter if you are a graduate of Harvard or worship snakes in the hills of Tennessee. If you haven't made an effort to know this culture in a much broader horizon than what you were born with, then you have failed as an American. You have failed to make America a unique and promising land.
The fortunate American has passed through many faces, many experiences, many beliefs, many communities, many landscapes. And not by watching TV but by doing a lot of things in the flesh and bone of it.
"It is their country for awhile," I told her. "They will wreak havoc and will need to be subdued. They will be responsible for everything that goes wrong. They will lead us to the brink of a catastrophe. And then a new era of American politics will be born. And then I will think again on these matters."
November 17, 2004
One of the more interesting things to speculate on is what will happen to the
Clinton's. It's becoming clear that they see an opening for themselves: A country dealing with
the "red vs. blue" division, most of whom will be fed up with George W. Bush in 2008
if not sooner.
It's quite clear that Bill Clinton wants the White House again. He needs, for one
thing, to redeem the taint on his first presidency. By being "behind the scenes," he will
be able to reclaim some of his legacy, as long as his wife performs well in office. This, of course, is speculation; and what purer or more fun game exists than speculation?
It's quite clear what their strategy will be. Bill Clinton is going to woo the
Red People and Hillary will cultivate the Blue Base. Bill Clinton is one democrat who
can connect with the Red Men, if not Red Women. John Edwards couldn't, not at the level
I always felt Clinton was great at the Hegelian synthesis that took up the thesis (60's),
antithesis (Reagan) and formed a synthesis that was not, in the long run, sustainable. But it's interesting that the thesis and antithesis are ever-present, even in the early 21st century. Hillary Clinton could not do it. She mellows with age but raises too many hackles still. But Bill Clinton can do it and can move as decisively for his wife as his wife did
for him as First Lady.
Personally, I don't trust the Clinton's. From a literary point of view they are a fascinating
American story. They are ravenous political animals; almost a full, ferocious
beast when you stick them together. And, after all the affairs and foolishness, they are still together. That tells one everything they need to know about what their intentions are in the coming years. Perhaps they are a modern version of the Macbeths. After all, we don't poison our rivals anymore. We lie about them. We find out what people are frightened of and make our opponent frightful to the people. And the Republicans are much more adroit at it than the Democrats. The Democrats have yet to find the right poison. So the next four years promises to be excellent, to be exciting, to be convulsive, to be shock and awe in a way we can't predict.
Could America live with a woman President? Yes. It's bound to happen even though the novelty would wear off quickly. And it's far more likely that the first woman POTUS would be a Margaret Thatcher
or Golda Meir type. That is, one who gains the confidence of both the military and business.
I would never underestimate the Clinton's however.
November 10, 2004
The closest analogy I can find to the recent election is the O.J. Simpson trial of 1995.
Months and months of meticulous, laborious evidence was brought in front of the jury to make one case or the other. Deliberative and impassioned arguments were made. The jurors were put into the jury room and told to come up with a decision. And rather than look at the evidence which showed a great likelihood of guilt, they decided to go with an irrational judgement that made no sense, showed no justice, showed no real knowledge of the case, showed nothing but contempt for the whole system.
That is the only conclusion I come to. The people have contempt for the liberal democracy.
It means nothing to them. Deliberation, thoughtfulness, criteria for evaluating a candidate, history, systems thinking, critical thinking, and all the attributes that go into making up a liberal, democratic culture are held in contempt by the majority of people. And if that doesn't frighten people I don't know what will. That's the surest sign that the culture is in a state of steep decline; it doesn't really believe in itself. It fears.
* * * *
Laughter and the positive embodiment of what is best and true about ourselves; that is the great political act today. The politics says, "we will grind on for decades with meaningless policies that will be built and undone by degrees. Expect no miracles. Expect no wisdom.
Expect nothing." Oh, but we expect beyond expectation! And fear nothing and fear no one and
fear no group and fear no belief.
Let us fashion a joyous hammer to come down on those who rule today when they blunder,
when they evade, when they lie, when they cheat, when they kill, when they steal.
American culture feels as if it's in a massive lock-down of some sort. I'm not sure if it's the fundamentalist element or the irrational politics or just plain fear but it is locked down, without resource, and totally savage. The whole idea behind a liberal, democratic republic is for the people to "be larger" than the state. The state is merely a reflection of the people but that only works when the people strive to be better than they are, better than they have been. It completely fails when they descend into the irrational or superstitious. At that point the manipulators will gladly take the stage and lead things into a hell-world.
Profound fear and a terrible loss of potential; this is what one senses today. And all the money, the power, the scams, the personalities can't make it right.
Those of us who truly love this nation and all its people and all its promise must reflect on the damage that has been done.
November 6, 2004
It is as much an egregious sin to hide behind the stupidity of the people as it is to hide behind power itself.
The dumbest and most sinful are the commentators who know better but will play to the people to get ratings. Corruption up and down the system; and probably a worst corruption than what happens in politics or the corporate state. Certainly along the same lines.
America has become the laughingstock of the world. How do people in "Red America" feel
about that? How do they resolve that? We are not envied, we are not praised, we are not feared.
We are laughed at. And it is because of the craven, cowering people and the "leaders" who manipulate their base fears to gain power. The Republicans are the proverbial ostrich with their heads in the sand expecting everyone to praise their ass in the air.
I have noticed the parasites are out in force on TV and other venues. They have not a clue of what horrible consequences await this country in the 21st century. Not only do I not have respect for them, I have no loyalty to them. They are a parasite class. And anyone who praises parasites, whether they are "commentators" or "politicians," can not be called an American.
The only remedy for the Kerry voters is simple: Be as crazy and irrational as the conservatives have been in their long trek toward power. You have to assert your beliefs at a level that can't be argued. You have to totally ignore any opposition to your will to power. You have to be so imbued with your sense of rightness in organization and idea that a giant shift occurs in the body politic which, apparently, is impressed with that sort of thing. And now watch the conservatives become "rational" and defend everything and be very defensive. If it weren't tragic it would be funny. Don't let the conservative get away with parasitism. Ask them why they haven't put their fanny on the line for this country.
Do the Bible-folk understand this line, "where there is no vision the people perish?" I dare
them to tell me what this means to them and what George W. Bush has to do with it.
November 5, 2004
Most of the post-election analysis centers around the "great divide" between
the reds and the blues. I think what one see's is how powerful identity is and how much
loyalty people have with an identity that gives them meaning. And since we are a putatively
free nation, that identity can be constructed a variety of ways. The disturbing and critical thing is how many of these identities are based on historic conflicts that lead to acrimony if not war; primarily racial, ethnic, class, and religious. As we've stated before the wonderful framers of the government allowed for this as long as the infrastructure that held it all together was strong. The best-willed political types try and get people over these factious identities and into common ground. That is the struggle and art of politics. If it's simply a war of identities then what is left?
Certainly, the left, liberal, progressive area has disintegrated over the past few decades. It was successful in the 60's and 70's because (a) people en masse turned against Vietnam, (b) people admired and supported the Civil Rights struggle, (c) young, idealistic generation became
politically active, (d) great, charismatic leaders arose, (e) economic good times gave room for experimentation, goodwill, sense of renewal. All of this went away very quickly. My crusty old journalism professors used to warn us in 1971 or so, "you haven't seen the backlash yet..."
Well, old dudes, here we are and we have seen it. And it ain't purdy.
The liberal progressives have a more difficult time in fabricating an identity that holds together. Whereas the Christian right does not. One reason for this is that in urban areas there is much more mobility, much more change; whereas in the rural areas there is stagnation. Now, why the poor rural folk can't get government to stimulate their local economies and instead give everything up to the urban rich is beyond me. That's one for the social psychologists I suppose.
The left progressives have a lot to blame themselves. They do not reach out to understand the very society they want to change. Politically, that is disastrous. A literary mind can be elitist; the political mind can not. They need a creative deconstruction of their concepts and the language used to put those concepts together, as well as change the angle of attack they have toward chronic problems.
They became too self-satisfied if not self-righteous. And one reason for that is their relative isolation. Despite the fact they are usually mobile, educated, intelligent, well-read they are insulated from, obviously, the "red zone." They are more apt to stay out of the "red zone," now more than ever. And frankly, the "red zone," fears and despises them more than the other way around. And speaking of "more," I don't think Michael Moore did Senator Kerry any good with his film. In true American fashion he did quite well for himself. But, I will bet anything that a few of the swing voters in swing states had the bejesus scared out of them by Mr. Moore. Just a passing thought.
A literary mind can afford to scorn and peel away the stupidity of the people and show them the big, ugly mirror with "red zoners" at the center racing around buying up duct tape and thinking the gays are going to set up some gay-kingdom with the Christians becoming sex-slaves or something.
However, the political mind must possess "mutual respect," must deal equally with all pluralities, must believe that the poorest is as filled with potential as the wealthiest. The key to modern leadership and power is the ability to "empower" others. When the left progressives learn this lesson and apply that to the poor, rural "red states", they will gain.
Obviously there's a difference between an urban person dealing with the complexity of city life and city problems, depending on rational thinking to deal with these things, and expecting the nation as a whole to respond to its own problems in the same way. And people in the interior of the beast dealing with complexity by faith. And they do same thing by expecting the nation as a whole to respond to its problems in like fashion. The two great shadows in this are that "facts" can be faked and manipulated and "faith" can be faked and manipulated. In the city, experts must be brought in to deal with the multiplicity of problems. That's part of the rational process we've seen for a century or more. Max Weber wrote books about this. And what do the experts possess but techniques to solve problems? It is the political leader who must assert what the outcome is going to be. What is the "vision?" What is the final result going to be from the admixture of all these experts? The president, the mayor, the supervisor, the governor, etc are the ones that must articulate the final result. And then the people decide if things have come together to solve a problem. So, there is "faith" in the system of experts; there is much more trust in it because there is nothing else in the urban civilization.
It is better if it is independent of any belief system; other than the organizing principles in the founding document.
The faith types have faith and trust in their neighbors. And faith can be used to deal
with very large problems; alcohol abuse, drug abuse,
sexual abuse, frustration, lowered expectations, poverty, and so many other ills. And faith
can deal with these problems at times. And perhaps it's true that in our society, the expert
has tried to get down into those personal levels and the faith types have tried to reclaim the complex society. And both are overstepping their bounds.
There are many open-ended questions raised by the two recent elections, the terrorist attack,
the "war on terrorism," and the future of the United States. Smart, conscientious people had better start driving their minds through these questions.
November 4, 2004
Back to Sunoasis Opinions
This was an election won by people who fear. It was won by a people who have no vision,
no hope. It was won by desperate people. It was won by people who are not moved by the facts. It was won by people who do not read anything written after the New Testament. And even after reading the New Testament they don't get this orphic phrase from the Master, "beware of those who come in my name dressed in sheeps clothing but who are within as ravening wolves." What else is a "ravening wolf" but the will to power? There is little difference between an Ayatollah spewing a decree to a captured people and masses of illiterate people imposing the rule on the pretext of "moral issues." Backwardness won out in this election and we will pay a steep price for it.
President Bush has squandered whatever respect he gained after September 11th. If he were running a corporation and made a serious blunder and cost the company important partnerships, and brought disgrace to the company, and put that company at risk would he be rewarded with a new four-year contract? I don't think so. The people who gave President Bush this victory were the same ones who bought up all the duct tape when the same administration said a terrorist attack was immanent several years ago. Do you think they were testing the stupidity and fear of the people at the time? I think so.
The worst are the so-called intelligent ones who know better and realize that power is now about the ability to control the backwardness of the people. This is blatantly shown in the way President Bush bought off the Hispanic vote and will show up later on in vast new numbers of illegal immigrants as the economy softens and jobs are lost in great numbers.
The Republicans evidence no knowledge of what is going on; they were created purely out of political revenge instigated by the infamous 60's and 70's. Such politics are doomed to failure and to a reaction many times its weight as the facts are ignored and as mistakes go on without accountability.
We have a long, four years ahead of us.
November 4, 2004
The heart kept hope but the gut knew the truth; Senator Kerry could not win unless he built
more fire under his campaign. He did a good job against the incumbent, during a war. The margin
of victory was slim at best.
Can President Bush conduct a "war on terrorism," with only half a nation? Perhaps he can. He will find the answer to that unless he does some reaching out.
The Democrats need to organize for 2008, starting right now. It has
to pinpoint the five or six micro-regions that determine these elections and focus on them until themes emerge in the next four years.
The Democrats need to find a charismatic leader. Senator
Clinton is not that person, although some in the Democratic party think otherwise. They are almost obsessed with her running in 2008 but it would be a wrong move. In 2008 it is likely that a "war on terrorism" will still be going on. That's not certain but probable. The person nominated at that time must gain the confidence of the people in leading the military and conducting an on-going war of this type. It could be that bin Laden is out of the picture by that time. It may be that Arafat will have departed to his great reward and the situation between Israel and Palestine become worse.
It could be that the war on terrorism will have shifted to southeast Asia, North Korea or some other location.
The most distressing fact to come out in this election was that "moral issues" dominated
every other consideration. Gay marriage, abortion, and other "moral issues," impacts a very small segment of the population. The competence or incompetence of the POTUS impacts billions
of people and a large portion of the future. That "moral issues," of this nature dominate can only mean that people are frightened, not thinking, sunk down in lonely, frustrated lives, and easily led by the nose to the "moral" trough. People, that is, who will give up $5 or $100 to the charlatan on stage making weird noises so that the crippled man can walk.
November 3, 2004