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Events As We See Them 

Presidential Elections and other Stories in the Meat Market

Some casual thoughts about the election a year and a half away:

  • Every citizen should be able to account for every penny of the resource.
  • Can government respond to crisis?
  • Is consensus possible?
  • For every ladder on which a candidate is climbing, there are half a dozen puppet masters at the top.

When thinking about the President you can't depend so much on the broad, general policies since that is formulated elsewhere than the character of the President. What is necessary to discover is the quality of attributes necessary to run a govt. Among these are the ability to see impending problems, listen and synthesize points of view, inspire leadership, and bring the best out of people.

We always raise the simplest questions: What is the state of the nation? Some say that the American era is over and that we have crossed the threshold between problems and the resiliency needed in the body politic to solve problems. There must be a ratio between the available stress applied on the resources of a nation and the ability of the nation to renew itself, to renovate its institutions and so forth.

If it were easy it would have been done long ago.

Some indicators to reveal whether it is in a decline:

  • Are the major decisions for the nation made within its boundaries?
  • Is the Constitution still adhered to?
  • Can one go over the document paragraph by paragraph and recognize the nation as something born from its spirit?
  • Is the nation a slug-a-bug?
  • Has it slowed because of economic decline?
  • Are enough people getting the right education and adventuresome enough to deepen the resources of the nation?
  • Are people, journalists, politicians and so on, identifying the major problems and attempting to solve these problems?

No one likes the size of the nation because the demands to understand it exhausts people. And exhausted people do not want to learn or to think or to be bothered one way or another.

The federal government, in my lifetime, will never become the sugar daddy again.

After awhile it becomes obvious that the politicians and their advisors are aiming their messages at a fairly low to middling area, much like TV and other popular arts. Those who are vain enough to think they are intelligent must discover for themselves the purposes and the substance of the politicking.

On one side of the equation is a huge bureaucracy; an enormous fund of resources, a great variety of powers and responsibilities, all duly constituted and upheld by the will of the people. On the other side of the equation are the men and women who want control, temporary control, of those powers and responsibilities.

History says that it occurs in the face of overwhelming evidence that the word and the deed are two completely different things. The word is simply a cheap counter in a game played by skilled technicians. The deed is always watered down by compromise and the counter-deed that arises in political reality.

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It occurs to the casual observer that government, at least in the U.S., has been in a state of disgrace for thirty years. The experience of the younger generation in the 60's was not a benign one. Their fathers and mothers had experienced government as a positive good, as a beneficent force in the throes of an economic catastrophe. But the boomer generation has experienced government as a maleficent beast that brought us Vietnam, Watergate, complex tax laws, competition for capital that drove many out of the housing market, corruption and malfeasance, secret police and secret excursions into other countries, assassination of foreign leaders, stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction, social engineering, among other impressionable acts. It's no wonder that the private sector has been favored and carried the vitality for the past thirty years, while government has been a sick dog. And now, of course, false intelligence reports and Homeland Security.

We live in such an era and it defines us.

Things are due for a change but how will they change?

They will change when the people recognize that their success is an addiction and not a goal. That at the moment they become successful, they must discover the new path, the next horizon that will allow for more success and more progress. That it doesn't matter how big and sparkling things are if the soul is shriveled and bleak. And when the masks are all taken down there is nothing but the shriveled and bleak. In this sense neither the public nor private sector can do anything; only the individual citizen.

But since we do look at the inhuman, objective landscape in things let us make a few notes.

And we do not claim the soul is shriveled and bleak. How can we know such a thing? It sounds silly to say, how do we define these things? All we can say is in our experience we know the difference between truth and lies, between health and illness, between good and evil. Our impressions are not precise but they do lodge deep in us. We make no argument at all. We simply exercise our freedoms at the level they seek.

The overriding question for the election of 2004 is, "What is America's role in the world?"

One thing to watch for: The entrance of Hillary Clinton into the race with her husband right behind her. "Vote for one and get two..." It will resemble that paragon of political sophistication, Alabama, when George Wallace could not run for Governor and had his wife run instead. She won the election, opened up the new bridges, while George ran the show. For America to fall for it would be a real mark of decline. Of course, the road may be marked later this year, if the Terminator becomes governor of the largest, most powerful state of the union.

Posted August 4, 2003

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Previous Events:

War on Terrorism

The California Recall

The Progressive Era

What is a perfect President?

On Political Culture

On JFK Assassination

The Clinton Bubble


Affirmative Action

Liberals and Nuders

The Trent Lott Affair

Why the Democrats are in Trouble

The Uncertain Decade

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