A Wet Blanket

November 07 2 Comments Category: Blog

In the blinding euphoria of the recent election, before we endow them with messianic auras, let’s remember they’re just politicians—all of them.  Decent human beings who care about family, country, etc?  Yes.  But all of them, in every country on the globe, are enmeshed in a system (created by their political forebears and promulgated by their own attempt to consolidate power) that forces simplistic solutions on multifaceted problems.  They often have to put deeply-cherished principles aside (or force those principles on others) and cater to that ubiquitous, destructive political expediency—National Interest.  What does it mean?  It’s the worst problem affecting the State, an absurd attempt to force a common viewpoint upon millions of individuals by reducing intricate relationships and aspirations to one-dimensional explanations and actions that often exacerbate the situation by band-aiding complexity with naivete.

Two major issues face the President and the new Congress–War and the Economy. A little retrospective might be painful but necessary if history is to teach us anything. Dare we acknowledge that we might at least have been partially responsible, through decades of our arrogant foreign policy missteps, for fermenting the cauldron that brewed the 9/11 attacks?  No, because that might force us to confront the ogre in the mirror and would also offer a comprehensible explanation for the rise of Al Qaeda.  It’s much more palatable to believe that terrorist organizations are peopled by unreasonable zealots capable of random acts of destruction, whereas our actions that devastate innocent lives (through drone attacks or bombs, etc.) are logical responses to protecting our National Interests and keeping our country safe.  So we continue to be at war!  Or that unmitigated deregulation of financial institutions and greed (through the tenures of both parties) led to an economic meltdown?  No, because the stock market must continue to soar and success on the American Way is calculated by how much money we make. We can’t “hope for change” without some introspection and many mea culpas!

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  1. I suspect we have been friends of an uncommon sort for so long because from the start we recognized in each other a common world view. Once again, you read my innermost thoughts and express them with considerable eloquence. I know all too many who would label you ‘traitor’ because you dare to peek behind the veil of our national narrative and (to mix my metaphors) declare that the Emperor has no clothes.
    Your comments remind me that I find myself at a turning point today. I have naively engaged in dialogues in which I’ve expected that a reasoned explanation of an alternate point a view, a presentation of facts not previously included in the discussion, a point of view informed by a particular moral perspective might bring about (if not a meeting of minds) at least a respect for a differing opinion. Instead, I seem only to have my values and opinions dismissed out of hand, rebuffed with sneers, and shat upon as ‘anti-American,’ ‘Socialistic,’ ‘beneath contempt,’ and ‘just plain fucking stupid.’
    And so I find myself moving to a point where I am no longer willing to engage. I rarely expect to change anyone’s mind; but when the very notion that ‘people of good conscience may differ’ is met with an acidic spray of vitriolic hate-mongering, I must ask myself ‘why even bother trying?’ It saddens me beyond words that this is happening not only in our public discourse, but in conversations with those I have considered friends. To twist the words of the Bard, ‘O Sad New World that hath such creatures in it as these…’ Indeed, I fear the Tempest may soon be at hand.

    Tom Palmer 7 November 2012 at 6:41 pm Permalink
  2. Ah, yes. To question the motives of “the greatest country on earth” is to run foul of jingoistic sentimentality and it does render us gun-shy. Obviously, we have to pick our battles and forums, not least because the uninformed are content that way and would rather not have their sacred cows slaughtered. But we must find ways to be provocative; we owe it to ourselves if not to the body politic. Else we waste away in bitter solitude.

    kimpereira 7 November 2012 at 7:37 pm Permalink

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