May 23, 2008

Fourteen and ninetytwo

1492. As children we were taught to memorize this year with pride and joy as the year people began living full and imaginative lives on the continent of North America. Actually, people had been living full and imaginative lives on the continent of North America for hundreds of years before that. 1492 was simply the year sea pirates began to rob, cheat, and kill them.

The chief weapon of sea pirates, however, was their capacity to astonish. Nobody else could believe, until it was too late, how heartless and greedy they were.

Kurt Vonnegut
, Breakfast of Champions

May 19, 2008

I. Will. Not. Support. Barack. Obama.

Just in case anyone was wondering. Probably won't be supporting any Democrat who does, but I will be voting against Obama.

I think it's safe to say that if Obama wins the un-Democratic nomination (based upon skewed caucus results and voter disenfranchisement in two of the nation's largest states), that this is the end of the Democratic Party as we have known it since FDR's New Deal. The Democratic Party was re-built by Roosevelt as a coalition of social progressives, labor unions, Southerners, blue collar workers, and African-Americans.

The drive to pass the Voting Rights Act by LBJ cost the Democratic Party the Southern part of the coalition. It was the right thing to do, but the leadership void was filled (partially) by the Stevenson wing of the Democratic Party. The Labor Union members (and some leadership), having achieved so many of their financial goals, began moving toward the fiscal conservatism of the GOP. As the Liberal wing gained more power nationally, socially conservative Democrats began to waver in their support of the Party (including many Union and blue-collar Democrats).

The once powerful coalition that FDR built became a shell, with dangerous fault lines running across it, and since 1960, has only elected three U.S. Presidents. All three came from the South, all three ran as Centrists, and only one was elected to a second full term (Bill Clinton), a a time when the excesses of the Democratic Party had resulted in losing both the Senate and the House to the GOP.

Barack Obama is the fruit of the devolution. Created as a candidate by those who espoused violence against America in the late '60s and early '70s, foisted by the Party "Elites" as both a sop to their loyal African-American support, and as a way to mask their own essential racism/classcism of the "Elites".

The shell has now been broken. Some see this as a "re-birth", while others see this as a death.

I am in the latter category. It is the death of a flawed, but noble, effort for the common good.

What has been born new is a left-wing neo-facism reminiscent of the late '60s, but now driving Toyota Priuses, wearing $150 Birkenstocks, and shopping at Whole Foods. It has combined the "I've Got Mine" attitude of the worst instincts of some Republicans, with the "I Can Do Anything I Want" and "Power Makes Right" attitude of Anarchists and Totalitarians. The result is closer to Libertarianism than to the New Deal.

From communes, Volkswagen buses, and brown rice, to Roth IRAs, $30K Toyota Priuses, and $8 a pound arugula from Whole Foods... what a long strange trip it's been.

May 12, 2008

The Triumph of Hope

There's just something about the Obama campaign and his enthusiastic supporters that seems somehow familiar to me, like we've seen it before.