Sunday, April 15, 2007

Seeking Hope

I tend to get depressed when I look at our current society. Somehow, we've allowed the worst leaders to carry out the worst ideas across the broad spectrum of policies. Laws? Not for these leaders. War? Not to be won, but to be sustained for the profits of our donors. Public safety? Not profitable. And on and on and on.
So I'm trying to find some hope. Some positive sign. Reading this article, "A journey into the (reputed) soul of conservatism" by David Green,, actually gave me a bit of hope. While it chronicles decades of wrongness,Green sees a light at the end of the tunnel.

Given the prevalence of such attitudes, it is no small miracle that we appear to have survived our era’s toxic cocktail of regressive bile. We are, of course, not out of the woods yet, and it is possible that a new, new Pearl Harbor, or yet another Middle East war would rally the persuadable middle of the American electorate back to the flag of the Boy King. (Don’t forget he had 90 percent job approval ratings right after
9/11 – despite the fact that he had gone off hiding in Nebraska.) But I tend to think that is probably no longer possible. I also tend to think that the fact that they haven’t already done this suggests that they’re probably not going to, though you never know what they’re capable of once the impeachment process kicks in.

Americans have hardly become any more secure in their own skins, however. To the contrary, the loss of a second Vietnam and the economic disaster which continually seems looming right around the personal debt / government debt / trade debt / mortgage meltdown / globalization corner is only going to make things worse on that score.

Ironically, what saved us (if we are saved) in the long-term from a predatory regime of regressive kleptocrats was the short-term experience of living under a predatory regime of regressive kleptocrats. After the utter and complete hash these people have made of everything they’ve touched, who now wants anything to do with this absurdly deluded ideology, apart from the frightened old ladies who still allow their pastors to tell them how to think and vote (oh, and how to donate too)? There is massive opportunity here. The combination of increasingly insecure Americans and the patent failures of a disastrous turn to the right meant to address those insecurities leaves one obvious prescription on the table – a turn to the left. Already there is overwhelming public support for a national healthcare system (wow, and to think – only sixty years after every other industrialized democracy in the world got theirs!). This would have been unthinkable as little as five years ago. Expect similar
attitudinal swings as the trap door continues to open underneath Americans on
issues like pensions, global warming, jobs and more. It is not exactly in the American tradition to favor governmental solutions to personal and social problems. It just so happens, though, that in so many of these domains they tend to work (however imperfectly – which imperfections usually having most to do with insufficient funding), and that the alternative of the conservative market deity (Praise the one true lord!) does not.
Americans have been slow to learn this, and have paid
the price accordingly. But learn they now appear to be doing (it would sure help if somebody out there from the so-called liberal party would frame the question properly, and vocally), and we should perhaps be thankful that the damage done during this particular life lesson wasn’t greater than what has in fact been visited upon us. As awful as its been, it could have been much worse.

Unfortunately, things are likely to get worse before they get better. But I have to believe that they will get better.
Added: This article by Robert Kuttner touches on the same theme

THREE TIMES in my political adulthood, we have seen the exhaustion of a conservative ideology and presidency. Under Presidents Nixon and Bush II, the
ingredients were corruption, corporate excess, and overreach of presidential power. During the 12 years of Reagan and Bush I, the hallmark was the failure of conservative economics.

And twice, the electorate ousted Republicans only to get centrist Democrats, who ran more competent administrations but did little to redress the structure of financial inequality in America.

Now, the third era of conservative Republican rule is collapsing -- with the most spectacular mélange of overreach, incompetence, economic distress, and sheer corruption of all. But who, and what, will succeed Bush? The forces of privilege and inequality are now so deeply entrenched in America that it will take a Democratic successor at least as bold as FDR or LBJ to change course.


mahakal said...

Only one candidate has been bold enough to even mention medical marijuana, and he was bold enough to push it through the New Mexico legislature and sign it into state law.

Anonymous said...

Oh and he's bold enough to negotiate a nuclear power settlement with North Korea too. Holy shit why aren't more people talking about Bill Richardson?

pygalgia said...

Mr. Richardson has great qualifications, but I watched his appearance on "this week" and he has a very simple weakness. He's not all that charismatic. In a race that includes Obama, Edwards, and yes, Clinton it's going to be hard for him to get attention. The reality of modern politics is that image trumps substance in the mind of most voters.