As you know, I believe we are experiencing a national mental breakdown–a Crack-up. Last night’s night’s Iowa Caucus only reinforced the idea that our politics is getting separated from reality. Tom Friedman pointed out this morning the dialectic of the Republican race.
Two things have struck me about the Republican presidential candidate debates leading up to the Iowa caucuses. One is how entertaining they were. The other is how disconnected they were from the biggest trends shaping the job market of the 21st century.
But when truth and fiction become indistinguishable, certain insights can still be drawn. And these insights are not without their power to elucidate the greater facts of our current economic and spiritual crisis.
Take the coming battle of Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum. Is it not the climax of Oliver Stone’s Wall Street? Is Mitt Romney not Gordon Gekko, lion of the leveraged buy-out, destroyer of jobs? And isn’t Rick Santorum the working class Martin Sheen character who will fight Gekko with every fiber of his soul.
But most of all I draw parallels to the petty jealousies of the reality show genre. Take the last 24 hours. First you have Michelle Bachman in her finest Queen of Denial act last night; acting as if she was somehow relevant to the conversation with her pathetic 5% of the vote.She is the clueless singer on American Idol who doesn’t even acknowledge that she can’t keep a tune. You can bet as soon as she got offstage, her accountant gave her the bad news. No Dough, Michelle. She stopped singing immediately.
Then comes Rick Perry, looking down in the mouth and still filled with painkillers. When he first entered the race three weeks after spinal fusion surgery, I told a friend Perry was going to be loopy on the campaign trail. I’ve been through spinal fusion with a friend and can promise you that Percocet has a pretty strong effect on the brain. The brain freezes I had seen in my friend for months after the operation. It also has a bit of an upper in it, so you think you are smarter or more creative than you really are. So last night I figured that Rick had folded the tent and gone back to the good life in Texas. But just like Real Housewives of Austin, Rick’s wife gave him a talking to and convinced a couple of buddies that Rick had helped make fortunes for over the last decade, said they would stay at the table for the next two weeks. So he’s thrown back in the ring for classic “family pride” issues, probably against his better judgement.
And then there is the true final episodes of Survivor, in which the wounded Newt Gingrich vows revenge on Mitt Romney, no matter the cost to his carefully reconstructed “Nice Newt” persona.Newt will surely be thrown off the island in subsequent episodes by the Republican establishment, but he won’t go down without a fight.
Next is the Ice Road Trucker, Ron Paul. He and his son Rand are adrenaline junkies.As I have said before, I think Ron Paul is a flawed messenger, but I cannot fault his courage in waging the battle against crony-capitalism and the military industrial complex that is plaguing our politics and cutting off the possibility for the amazing future our creativity could give us. He will never be the Republican nominee, because the whole party is in the bag to Northrop Grumman and Boeing and the members of MIC Club. I believe the Democrats could pick off the anti-war and the anti war on drugs Paulites easily against a Mitt Romney (or any Republican), in the same way that Lyndon Johnson ran against Barry Goldwater.
So here is what troubles me the most about last night. I listened to every speech. Nobody conceded that they had gotten beaten. And everybody used the phrase “We are going to take back our country”.
What the fuck does that mean?
Take it back from who? This Black Interloper who somehow got elected President? (by the largest plurality in years).
Take it back from the Liberals? Those people who make you conservatives uncomfortable because they actually love freedom enough to allow gay people to marry?
As I said at the outset, we are in a reality distortion field. The middle class has gotten totally conned by a Koch Brothers funded propaganda campaign that America is a wonderfully economically mobile country. It’s a lie. The possibility of moving from making $20,000 a year to making $200,000 a year is lower in the United States than in France or England. Only Obama is willing to have this battle now. Will the country be ruled as a plutocracy or a democracy?
There is only one way to assure that democracy wins. That is to return voter turnout numbers closer to the 75% level it was in the early 1900’s (the last period of true progressive reform).
Just how we are going to get 3/4 of the voting population to the polls next November is really a customer service issue from my point of view. In the face of all the Republican attempts to lower voter turnout, the Democrats have to make sure every single person who wants to vote will have the right ID long before the beginning of November. And then create some sort of buddy system on election day to get people to the polls. Every fair analysis has shown that the true gains over the last 30 years, since the supply side economic theory was introduced by Reagan, have gone to the top 1 %.
This can change.