Thursday, September 08, 2011

Perspective . . .

TRUTHOUT is a fine political site. There is a marvelous article by Mike Lofgren, "Goodbye to All That: Reflections of a GOP Operative Who Left the Cult". It sums up the current US situation so well.

Barbara Stanwyck: "We're both rotten!"

Fred MacMurray: "Yeah - only you're a little more rotten."

-"Double Indemnity" (1944)

Those lines of dialogue from a classic film noir sum up the state of the two political parties in contemporary America. Both parties are rotten - how could they not be, given the complete infestation of the political system by corporate money on a scale that now requires a presidential candidate to raise upwards of a billion dollars to be competitive in the general election? Both parties are captives to corporate loot.

• • • •

But both parties are not rotten in quite the same way. The Democrats have their share of machine politicians, careerists, corporate bagmen, egomaniacs and kooks. Nothing, however, quite matches the modern GOP.

To those millions of Americans who have finally begun paying attention to politics and watched with exasperation the tragicomedy of the debt ceiling extension, it may have come as a shock that the Republican Party is so full of lunatics. To be sure, the party, like any political party on earth, has always had its share of crackpots, like Robert K. Dornan or William E. Dannemeyer. But the crackpot outliers of two decades ago have become the vital center today: Steve King, Michele Bachman (now a leading presidential candidate as well), Paul Broun, Patrick McHenry, Virginia Foxx, Louie Gohmert, Allen West. The Congressional directory now reads like a casebook of lunacy.

It was this cast of characters and the pernicious ideas they represent that impelled me to end a nearly 30-year career as a professional staff member on Capitol Hill.

This is from FABIUS MAXIMUS, one of the finer political/military blogs around. Fabius also has an interesting post, also worthy of your consideration: "Hear the cattle bellowing in the chutes. Will they revolt?" It's a consideration of an article in The Atlantic that ponders a citizen revolt in the US, by James Fallows, 'People Are Close to Revolt'.

So people bitch and complain all the time. Why should you care? Well, because we may just be hitting a tipping-point — or not. IMHO, my guess, is that the US is more resilient than you might suppose, but there are going to be some political surprises. People are fed up, but now, it's not just The Tea Party and the GOP idiots, but, the "lamestream" are now figuring out that the sumbitch's broke. From The Atlantic:

A university librarian in the Midwest responds:

>>I've never actually written to a journalist before, but I was one of the 1,252 people arrested this weekend in front of the White House. I also live in the rural Midwest and your source is right. People are close to revolt. I think it will be a five year process of movement building, but even my very conservative staff of library assistants all cheered me on when I told them what I was doing. The people I interact with here and the ones I met in DC are all fed-up at a deep and fundamental level.

All of the people I know who are capable of rational thought also understand that the combination of (we're rural so pretty much everyone gets climate change) climate change and energy issues, lack of jobs, and the refusal of government to provide us with basic services means that a new revolutionary social movement is needed. Food prices are soaring, gas prices are making it hard for people to get to low paying jobs, and the amount of suffering because of lack of access to medical care is dire.

I sent a staff person home today (without pay since she's part-time) with a draining ear infection and a high fever. She also has a mass in her abdomen. She has no insurance and she's divorced with children and her ex also has no money. She is paying her bills with what I would call scam student loans that will eventually ruin her. These people are getting closer and closer to the point where we will have fundamental break-down of law and order.

How far does Congress think they can push before they get pushed back?<<

The problem with that, according to Fabius, is that it gives up on changing process. When you consider the obesity epidemic today, maybe most people are too lazy.

This dreaming about revolt is especially nauseating in a Republic. We elect our representatives every two years. Fantasizing about revolt is the opiate of people too lazy to work the political machinery designed by the Founders.

Revolts occur when people have political grievances and see regime change as a solution. There is nothing pointing to a solution in most of the political whining that passes for political analysis in 21st America. Nor the basis for a broad revolt in the Left’s panic about climate change and the Right’s crusade against taxes and social security.

What will the American people do?

The most likely response of the America people is nothing. How did the Romans respond to the death of the Republic? Passively, with irony, detachment, or resignation.

1 comment:

Purple library guy said...

The Romans didn't care much about the passing of the Republic, no. But then, the Republic was no democracy. One might wonder why they should care about a transition from rule by a group of the richest families to rule by just one guy from the richest families.

The Roman mob did, however, frequently get pretty scary when the supply of bread looked like running low. Or the circuses were crap--and unlike nowadays, the Roman circuses and theater were free.

The bread supply is looking uncertain. And the RIAA says if you get your circus for free you're a criminal. I won't say there's a revolution around the corner--but significant unrest, that I'll say.