As I’ve already said, I’m trying to stay away from political commentary, given that enough truly is enough. The mid-terms are the big story for the moment and there’s no shortage of opinion, let alone the ads and mailers that seem to have no end. I don’t know about you, but I pretty much made up my mind about choices for candidates and propositions weeks ago. Nothing that I’ve seen or read since mid-summer has caused me to change my positions.
Still, with election day just a week away…
…a couple of questions might be worth a look.
First, when they — the wretched right — say that they want to “take the country back,” what country are they talking about and what do they want to take said country back to? What does the country need saving from? What would the new look be? Is it a revised profile that would be generally acceptable to all, or to a select few? Do the proponents have one in mind that we might recognize? Whither America?
It’s probably true that the 200-plus years of American history has basically been a conflict of what some people wish to preserve and what others have had to endure in the face of preservationists. That is, genuine class struggle in a nation of people who purport to have none. So we give it another name, another identity, calling for a return to “our basic values” where, in truth, patent exclusivity is the aim and Mayberry is the goal.
Whenever I hear the ravings of “take back our country” I’m struck by how difficult it has always been to truly see — and desire — America as a melting pot, that the comfortable have never been comfortable with and fight it at every turn. Why else has it taken a century and a half to begin to assimilate blacks, Latinos, Asians and others into the mainstream? Why else is more than 10 percent of the population still below the poverty line? Why now is sexual “orientation” the point of such derision?
Second, have we ever seen so much fear in the land, fear based on appearance and preference? What, frankly, is it that people are so afraid of losing — or gaining?
Coupled with that, have we ever seen a time when the opposition to a sitting administration has actively sought its failure, has relished the idea that an entire agenda collapse? Have we ever seen such hatred? Has it ever gotten so personal? Yes, we loathed the idiocy that characterized the Bush II White House and the reckless choices that it made, but I never saw it manifested in personal animosity. To the degree of candor that it can muster, the Secret Service has pointed to unprecedented death threats against the president and the extraordinary protection efforts that are now routine 24/7.
So it seems that the tenor of Campaign 2010 is one of foreboding, of ill-feeling in the extreme. This time we’re not talking a brave new world, but rather a retreat to secular smallness.
Here in California, things have gotten so nuts that we’re left with a choice between the former boss of Ebay, who apparently has run out of things to do, and a former governor, who may also have…run out of things to do. And in the New York gubernatorial contest they get a real estate character from Buffalo, whose specialty seems to be composing pornographic emails, or the son of a former governor of the Empire State. Some talent pool, huh?
I don’t know. It is worth a laugh when you think about it: we’re following a congress that didn’t know how to govern and may not get a gang of zealots who know even less. As always, I go back to my belief that it is the genius of our form of government that we consistently survive leaders who could rightly be declared turkeys.