You can’t go back. It’s one of those absolutes. Once Pandora’s Box is open, it’s open. We can turn our memory back to people and places, emotions and events, cherishing or condemning what was, but what is happening now, at this moment, is the only game in town. Being present in the moment takes a lot of moxie.
Perhaps that’s why reality is so elusive. We all exist in the bubble of our cultural experience, our choices and connections, despite what’s going on in the larger platform. Unless something intrudes, that is, making the political personal. At this moment, with (seemingly) sudden awareness that the political has the ability to impact our little bubble, reality is rearing its ugly head.
Here’s hoping that your personal reality offered plenty of positive attributes this Equinox/Easter week, because unfortunately, everywhere we look political reality appears to be a bar brawl. Most of us think that’s because government has failed us, but my perspective includes watching people attempt to impose what was, upon what is.
There’s a lot of that going around, so if we’re all about deciding what no longer works, we’re going to have to look at establishment politics: neoliberalism gone toxic and unresponsive to the needs of the people. The fireworks defining our primary campaign mostly miss that larger point, except that the outliers are creating a way to assess those differences, so bless them (even You Know Who).
We’re essentially down to Cruz and Trump, with Donald having offended 49 percent of Republican women voters, but with Cruz dancing tippy-toed on scandal that may hamper him as well. Hillary has gone downright presidential, counting up all her super delegates and moving to the right with a big stick AND loud voice, while Bernie continues to be Bernie. He’s had a lot of practice. Not much has changed with Bernie in decades.
Jimmy Kimmel nailed the differences between Cruz and Trump this week with a faux-ad, and I don’t know who they got to mimic Romney’s voice but he’s spot on. Bless the comics, they’re on the job.
And I’m giving wee Senator Lindsey Graham kudos for being the only Republican I can think of who is painfully honest about his party meltdown, telling The Daily Show’s Trevor Noah he’s thrown his weight behind Ted Cruz, whom he abhors, because ” … he’s not Trump.”
Graham understands Cruz has little chance of winning, but he’s picked Ted’s brand of suicidal poison over Trump’s role as a loaded gun. Watch this really entertaining interview and the pool game afterward, if you missed it. It’s worth your time, just because of the ease with which Graham navigates what he perceives to be “unfriendly territory.” Do note where his jokes fall flat (because he’s not in his own bubble, where everyone understands the context). We so rarely have a chance to mix it up this way any more. I give Lindsey grudging approval for both grace under fire and sense of humor (not to mention skill at pool).
On the left, Sanders won Utah and Idaho on Super Tuesday, and Clinton took Arizona, although there were an enormous amount of disenfranchised voters in Maricopa county, where voters lined up in minority neighborhoods for as long as five hours to vote. Many gave up and went home. Election officials had reduced the polling places by 70 percent — from 200 to 60 — thanks to the Supreme Court decision that turned back federal protections for 16 states with histories of discrimination, Arizona being one. Ultimately, that will benefit conservatives, as illustrated in Phoenix, where 40 percent of voters are minority. In the largest city in Arizona, there was only one polling place for every 21,000 voters.
Changes to the Voting Rights Act, as well as state insistence on ID, has already created problems in North Carolina earlier this season, and we should expect more of them. That’s highly problematic to the democratic process, and puts liberal votes under fire. Seems as though we’ve spent a decade and more being well aware of voting discrepancies and unable to get a fix. That says something about the leadership in this nation, and it ain’t good. Here’s Bernie at a press conference, discussing voter suppression in AZ. It’s also interesting to hear something other than his stump speech, which rarely happens in media.
Hillary Clinton has already pivoted to campaign against Trump, while Democratic leadership has invited Bernie to bow out — even the Prez, it’s been reported — since Hillary has outdistanced him with delegates. The Dem establishment considers Hillary the safe bet, with connected politicians and supporters with big bucks at her back, but Bernie was never about playing it safe. Sanders backers want their vote counted, and Bernie has every intention of increasing supporters as he campaigns, giving the other half of the states the opportunity to decide their primary choice.
Bernie drew a crowd of over 10,000 in San Diego last week, where he told them, to thunderous applause, “What this campaign is about (is) asking the American people to think outside of the box and not think of the status quo today as the status quo we have to live in.”
Business as usual IS at question, isn’t it? Know anyone who thinks what’s going on now needs to continue well into the future? Know anyone who hasn’t got a long laundry list of things no longer working in their lives, or no longer promoting the public good? It’s starkly obvious that Democratic leadership in this country exists in its own bubble, meeting the demands of the plutocracy, misunderstanding the Sanders campaign, and underestimating the populism that drives it, much as the Pubs can’t figure out how they lost their mojo to the likes of Donald Trump.
On the right, citizens have been fed a line of rhetorical fantasy for over a decade and many of the Trump supporters are grabbing at Donald’s promises to fix everything (without explaining how). Part of that fix is to “make America great again,” which means to bolster the patriarchy of white males at the nation’s helm and reaffirm American exceptionalism by brute force.
Think of that as an infusion of testosterone and renewal of colonialism, both of which — if put to the public in those terms — would be considered anachronistic in the 21st century. But when suggested as a shield against terrorism and a hedge against all those things going bump in the night, fear erodes common sense. It may seem as though we’re only sorting out the difference between two political philosophies — two eventual polarized candidates — yet it is so much more: the choice we’re making is closer to the bone than we care to admit: who we are, what we wish to do with our considerable power as a nation and how we will be seen in the future.
As Mark Karlin, BuzzFlash editor, wrote recently, “… no empire has lasted forever. The great tectonic forces of domestic and international changes have given Donald Trump the opportunity to fan the embers of racism as the US empire erodes due to its excesses, exploitation, over expanded military conflicts and backlash.”
We know the left has delusional issues, as well. The idea that the people are pissed off enough to support and agitate for big change just isn’t registering with establishment politicians. Hillary Clinton’s commentary that we don’t need to make America great because it already is seems remarkably tone-deaf, given the enormous amount of energy from those demanding big changes in the status quo. The idea of actually shaking up the financial institutions to hold anyone accountable, or bringing scrutiny to bear on their incestuous interactions, simply cannot penetrate the thick walls of the neoliberal bubble.
Hillary’s speech at the AIPAC convention has been described by her aides as “muscular” — by me as “hawk, revisited” — and caused Glenn Greenwald to tweet his concern that no progressive has called her on it. I think most progressives expected it, even as her rhetoric as a candidate has attempted to clone Sanders’s call for cultural and financial equality. Clinton’s pivot toward a national election means coming back to center. Always good to remember that horses capable of changing their color at will only exist in Oz.
Now, this neoliberal business may be confusing to some, so let’s define it, as simplified over at Kos:
Neoliberalism is a free market economic philosophy that favors the deregulation of markets and industries, the diminution of taxes and tariffs, and the privatization of government functions, passing them over to private business.
Essentially it’s been proven that nothing much trickles down and that the free market is anything but free, yet the bubble that continues to encapsulate those memes is protected by the powerful .01 percent of the 1 percent and organizations like the Chamber of Commerce. Now that formerly untouchable topics like Social Security, media bias, and Big Pharma have been successfully addressed by the progressives, renegade capitalism can’t be all that surprised to find itself in the cross-hairs, yet the establishment simply turns its head and pretends everything is fine.
All of Washington D.C. is neoliberal, at this point — market driven, enamored with the private sector as an answer to national problems, and handsomely paid by the corporatocracy to keep everything on an even keel, which means no shake-ups in policy to hamper their profit margin. Our children believe that this is what government is. It’s no wonder they reject it.
Barack Obama took his family with him to Cuba this week, but he also took a couple of corporate representatives. Frankly, I think if anyone wants to know what Old Cuba is like, they better get permission to visit right away. I fear what a consumer society might do to a little island that sat out the corporate boom of the last 80 plus years.
Obama is a curious blend of liberal and neoliberal impulses, often discussed in think pieces. What stands out as telling are both his academic connection with the Chicago School of Economics and his selection of Clinton-administration alumni to fill most cabinet positions. The President seldom takes a path to the left without kicking some schmutz up behind him, as when he revoked the plan to allow Atlantic drilling, but allowed for 10 new leasing sites in the Gulf of Mexico and three off the Alaskan coast. Still, I applaud his measured international response, and calm assurance in the face of chaos, and I expect we’ll miss him when he’s gone.
Entrenched neoliberal politicos find themselves standing on the outside, perhaps still thinking they can ‘manage’ the progressive ire building against them. Maybe they should take a clue from the embattled Republicans, who once thought the same of their base. Hillary lost a good many Illinois votes recently because of her connection to Rahm Emanuel, a mayor who is uniformly hated by many in Chicago. A New Yorker article nails the problem:
“How will she manage a Party in which all the moral authority belongs to the left wing, in which Elizabeth Warren seems, in temperament and ideology, far closer to the median Democratic voter than Clinton does? She now faces a Party in which, if the example of Emanuel means anything, assertions of personal competence are not nearly enough.”
Meanwhile, a supremely confident Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, who has taken advantage of her position on several fronts in recent years, now finds herself with a robust primary challenger, her first ever.
My uber-religious Bagger Representative recently made a statement — I saw it on TV and my jaw dropped! — that “Washington today needs to be run like a business.” Granted, her family gets huge farm subsidies, and she makes money as an author as well as her (fat) salary in the House (for doing next to nothing), but how does she rationalize that statement with her flag-waving patriotism and culture war mentality? Feels awfully “Trumpish” to me, don’t you think? It’s a neoliberal way of looking at the world, not a religious one.
Last but not least, this week I signed a petition asking that another of my congressional rep’s — this one even more religious, if possible — not vote for a bill that “prohibits the state from imposing penalties on individuals and religious entities who refuse to participate in same sex marriage ceremonies due to sincerely held religious beliefs.” This is mostly a brouhaha about wedding cakes, etc.
The petition reads:
Pro-discrimination bills, like SJR39, have no place in Missouri. Community leaders and business leaders across the state have joined Missourians like me in condemning this anti-LGBT legislation because discrimination against any Missourian is wrong.
Please do not vote to deny people their civil rights. Discrimination has no place in our state — and not only is discrimination wrong, but it’s bad for business. Please stop SJR39 so that discrimination isn’t enshrined into our Missouri Constitution. Thank you for your service.
I got this reply, from his iPhone:
An old 1971 Song had these lyrics;
And the sign said “Long-haired freaky people need not apply”
I believe this should apply to anyone who wants to put up a Sign to protect their Business.
I’ve written him back and thanked him for his candor, considering how easily he might have ignored my request, but he had a point to make, obviously.
I had one too. I suggested that it’s been 3,500 years since Deuteronomy was inscribed and 45 since that lyric hit the air, which makes him 3,545 years behind the times. And while little spots on the map may continue to reflect his kind of regressive bias, they can’t hold up forever, any more than the Constitution of the United States can any longer be interpreted as an inflexible, unchanging, ‘dead’ document.
I added that those unwilling to bend will break, and signed it “your long-haired freaky constituent, unrepresented in Missouri.”
Times change, and so does the status quo — in point of fact, it already has. The public’s mind has opened on too many levels to close again, unless by extreme measures, and I think we’re wise enough now to see those coming. If the people still focused on keeping their bubbles intact, the status quo on an even keel, would just relax their grip a bit, look around and smell the (fair market) coffee, we could get on with this shift a good deal less painfully.
Holiday blessings to you all from the Pea Patch.