Sunday, January 31, 2010

How much danger are we really in?

by Rich Miles

These are parlous times. The fickle American electorate, especially those styling themselves "independents" (or, God forbid, "Teabaggers"), not content with 1 year's worth of progress toward undoing the depredations of the 8 Bush years, threaten to send us back onto our journey to the era and ethos of the Salem witch trials, electing as an early harbinger the telegenic but otherwise pretty much useless Scott Brown to fill the seat formerly occupied by the finest humanist the U.S. government has ever known, Ted Kennedy. Who knows why the same people who elected Kennedy in, most recently, 2006 elected an inexperienced pretty boy who would betray everything Kennedy ever stood for barely three years later? Who knows if his election (Brown's) is the harbinger of Republican re-ascendancy that so many brain-dead, lacking-in-creativity so-called pundits have hailed it as in recent weeks?

One can only hope not. Dear God, please not - not another X years of Talibancy in America. We really might not survive it again. We almost didn't last time. As strong as America can be in its best times, we almost didn't survive 8 years of irresponsible frat-boy pandering to every twitch of the extreme right that was the Bush "administration".

But this is where we're aiming, if cooler heads don't manage somehow to prevail - another indeterminate period of right-wing dictatorship, perhaps actually managing this time to destroy our Constitution and its freedoms as they tried to do last time.

America is strong. Americans make it so. But it is NOT invulnerable. It is most assuredly not invulnerable to its own strengths. We cannot ALL keep calling those who disagree with us un-American. We cannot keep attacking each other's gods, cannot keep making OUR god the ONLY god, and castigating all those who believe otherwise. We cannot simply continue to abandon our strengths in the name of patriotism. Remember the famous Samuel Johnson quote: "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel". In fact, don't EVER forget that quote. It could save our country some day.

Let me recommend two works of art for your perusal: first is either the film or the novel "A Tale of Two Cities". I recommend this because, in a recent viewing of the film, it occurred to me to wonder, HOW did France go so unrelentingly mad for so long? After all, there were other countries which had lived under tyranny then escaped it. Why did the French go so guillotine-mad? And what sorts of parallels might there be in America today? Do you think it's impossible that we could some day become such a dictatorship, and then fight our way out from under it, and then murder those who put us there? Do you think this could never happen in America? Unlikely, yes. Impossible, no. Not by a long chalk. The events of the past 9 years show us that - we have been at each others' figurative, and sometimes literal, throats for almost all of that time.

And things like the Bush dictatorship, and the election of Scott Brown and others like him, lead us not TO that place, but in the general direction of it. And as we see in Dickens' masterpiece, sometimes TO the place but not IN it is all it takes for formerly good people to adopt evil ways.

Here is the second recommendation I mentioned above: perhaps not technically a work of art, but information we can use, and should: GOP Hits its Stride, But Faces Rifts over Ideology

The one glimmer of hope in all this, the one thing that remains true throughout all the evils of the Republican Party, is that no matter how much power they get, they will ALWAYS overreach eventually. They learn nothing from their mistakes, because they don't see them as mistakes.

And that is the only way America will be saved. Some day. Some day.


Old Scout said...

Whether parlous or perilous, you're absolutely spot-on about republican'ts being unable to learn. Must be part of the kool-aid that is necessary to resist change.

Jack Jodell said...

I love the relevance of your term "Talibancy in America." For that is exactly what the religious right, authoritarian Bush/Cheney regime was---the ignorant and narrow-minded form of American Taliban.

The paradox of the Massachusetts election is frustrating and maddening. One thing is for sure, though: if Democrats nominate more blue dog, corporate Democrats for office, and if Dems and liberal/progressive independents stay home and sit on their asses come election day, there will be more Scott Browns rather than less. And that we MUST PREVENT!