� Shocked! | Main | Say What? �

April 07, 2004

Wishful Sedition

Yesterday, amongst the giggle girls, F9 and F7, I hung out with George and his lovely.

On what turned out to be a fairly bright day after late night and early morning low clouds and fog along the coast, we strolled down the promenade and pier in Redondo. The awkwardness of having an n-way conversation with a top blogger and your own daughters finally broke when they discovered the huge fishtank in the seafood restaurant and we got down to political sputtering.

I realised rather quickly that I need some stronger struts in my theories. Taken on their own, the arguments I present make perfect sense. But it doesn't all add up coherently. George was polite enough to not raise his eyebrows too high. What's interesting in this first person exposition is that I'm a bit more anti-left than I sound. It doesn't make me particularly comfortable to say so but it is true so I may as well flesh it out properly.

What emerges in my theory is a very strong appreciation for Things That Work, which is very much a part of my attraction to religion (in that it works for centuries) and for America (in that it functions despite major dislocations). For example, I often cite the story of Orange Juice, which can be gotten in any ghetto or any desert in this nation at any time of the year. As well, I cite the fact that OKC can happen, LA Riots can happen, NYC Blackouts can happen, and we don't have soldiers on the street being shot. We don't have kids throwing rocks at cops or Molotov cocktails tossed through storefronts.

Riots in America are not political and this is why the Left is marginalized - why it cannot remain a majority party. We're not agitated enough. The Left has to look for trouble because as uncomfortable as we may get, we are not in trouble as a nation. We're peaceful, we're happy, we watch television. The economy makes us squirm and it punishes many of us, some it absolutely destroys. But even so, you won't find Enron survivors or Dot Com survivors striking in solidarity with Southern California grocery strikers, and nowhere will you even find roughneck miners or steelworkers tussling with cops. Capitalism has been reformed so that we may never see another Debs. Too many families have climbed up, and there remain too many below who still hope to climb for the prophets of doom to solidify their grip on the downtrodden. America isn't downtrodden quite enough. So the Left is really a Sorta-Left and incapable of gathering the kind of steam we recently saw in Spain. These are poor times for disaffection.

At the same time, I don't think anyone is prepared for the know-knothing cynical dysfunction of the kind of Republicans who have been running things. At the heart of the Republican schitzophrenia is disdain for government and an emnity against its competence in anything but tax abatement and military superiority. They hate themselves. They run for re-election on premises which would support their ouster and so all they can do to justify their existence is as a placeholding foil to their Democrat rivals. There was no clearer manifestation of this than Newt Gingrich's bullheaded willingness to stop the government dead in its tracks. None of this logic would survive the most basic scrutiny in the business world Republicans treasure so much. Hire me, I'll do less than the other guy. Republicans have a very difficult time employing the word 'productivity' to the operation of government. That is why I believe them more prone to graft and corruption. But that's a discussion for another day.

With the kind of miserable Republicans we suffer, what would the Left do? Since I believe a little class warfare is healthy, I suggested a deck of cards outlining the top enemies of the Left, with Carl Rove at the top. Even I can't stand his trickeration, but given this Republican conundrum, it is natural that such a man rise to the top. All the emnity of the Democrats is focused on the White House, because after all, in Congress everything is relative. If Republicans give the elderly 5 pills instead of the 7 the Democrats proposed, it's considered 'fiscally conservative' regardless of the fact that the elderly don't need pills at all, but crutches. So the presidential race is a kind of all or nothing battle (with much sound and fury).

Given that America survives OJ Simpson and nine-eleven, what kind of disaster could the Left cook up in order to raise voter turnout to something around 70%? It would have to be huge, Vietnam War sized. That's not anything they could invent, they simply would have to react to disaster in a better way than the incumbent Right can manage it. But there aren't enough body bags coming back from Iraq for that to happen. America can afford that too.

Perhaps only acts of desparation would work, thus the title of this post.

I am quite happy these days. But even in my unhappy days when I was equally mad about Osama and GW about the economy and the foul mood my fellow citizens in the wake of the darkest deeds of terrorism; in those days at the beginning of this blog, I sat down to write. And I think most Americans would rather sit down to write than to get up and fight given the levels of threat we deal with on a daily basis. It speaks volumes about the stability of this great civilization and the excellent qualities of American people themselves. We have quite enough fighters and even in war we can afford the apathy of the kinds of voter turnout we have.

I don't buy that Americans are ignorant by and large. We're spoiled, and so we don't need to know so much. All human beings understand inately when their lives are threatened, and we are not close to desparation. When things get ugly there are plenty of competent folks to handle them. We always have heroes to rise to the occasion - hell half of our popular fiction is all about that very idea and fact.

So I will continue to stay with the Republicans, as they require a bit of principled reform from moderate black nationalists. Yet I am honestly sympathetic with the Left to the extent that they truly understand and are willing to deal with the problems of their particular concern. Still it remains the case that this is America, and that's a good thing. So long as it is, conservatives will remain in power, wishful sedition notwithstanding.

Posted by mbowen at April 7, 2004 12:42 PM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Wishful Sedition:

Eternal sunshine of the blogger's mind. from ALLABOUTGEORGE.com
INT. WAITING ROOM -- NIGHT George dreams he's sitting in the back table at the Original Pantry, hunched over his... [Read More]

Tracked on April 11, 2004 11:53 AM

Eternal sunshine of the blogger's mind. from ALLABOUTGEORGE.com
INT. WAITING ROOM -- NIGHT George dreams he's sitting in the back table at the Original Pantry, hunched over his laptop and wondering how he's going to ever finish posting pictures from his recent travels. Guava comes up to him.... [Read More]

Tracked on July 2, 2004 03:39 AM