Making sense of the latest black night in American politics
It’s been a long night for those of us who believed that America might possibly engage in some real, substantive change a mere two years ago. I look to the Hope poster on my wall with the stylized portrait of President Obama and my heart sinks.
The results from Florida are dire. Republicans have swept the mindless Tea Pots into office. Even the fraudulent medical corporate magnate Rick Scott seems to have won our governorship here in the once Sunshine State. How the buzzards hover over what is left of a once beautiful state. Across the rest of the country, similar results are coming in.
In many ways, I am not as alarmed this night as I have been on black nights like this in the past. It’s clearly not as bad as the night Ronald Raygun swept into power with his revolution that would ultimately empower America’s most selfish impulses: “Are YOU better off than you were four years ago?” And it’s hardly the devastating night that Gingrich and his mindless bunch of thugs inflicted their Contract on America upon the nation.
But, of course, the pattern of this mindlessness remains constant. Working class men get their masculinity pimped and vote for corporate candidates who oppose their very existence, much less their interests. Blacks and Latinos don’t vote at all or simply vote for a Spanish name, in this case Rubio, regardless of the fact he represents Latin America’s fascist impulse whose privilege comes at the expense of their own concerns. And the soccer moms, unable to get instant gratification from the Democrats, switch sides. Of course, Republicans rarely have any trouble knowing how to vote. When your moral reasoning is dominated by stage two (what's in it for me?) and stage three (What does the tribe say?) thinking, there are always candidates willing to play into your greed and fears.
To paraphrase the Gospel of John, Jefferson wept.
As I sat as calmly as possible at dinner eating my garlic and sun-dried tomato pizza, I said to my gentle husband of 36 years that we face two basic questions this night. The first is simply how we resist yet another episode of the compulsive fascist tendencies America periodically produces, shooting ourselves in the foot and then begging wimpy Democrats with names like Clinton and Obama to come rescue us from the self-inflicted pain. What does resistance look like in a world dominated by Tea Pots and their corporate sponsors?
The second question is more serious. At what point does the situation suggest that resistance is futile, that departure is warranted? This is the question folks like the Frankfurt School scholars asked themselves in the rise of the Third Reich and the closing of the German mind (and withering of the German heart). When does the scapegoating move from immigrants to the queers and the academics? When does the demand for conformity dressed up as patriotism become a red alert for anyone with an IQ over that of a rutabaga to get the hell out of Dodge?
I do not think America is at the latter point…yet. But I do not rule out its possibility. Tonight my husband and I talked of our love for our home, our desire to remain close to our families and the desires to make it to retirement in our jobs. Then we talked about which country would be the best place to which we could flee. Which would take our animals, if any? Which would allow us to continue tapping whatever resources we might have left? How would we survive without our families? Where would the remaining days of our lives be the least difficult should our presence in our homeland no longer be reasonably possible?
I have no crystal ball this night. But I do see major hard times ahead for America. Whether it will revise itself as it has done so many times before and find the will to deal with its problems , whether it will devolve into corporate sponsored fascism or whether it will simply dissolve into tribalistic competing feudal realms with little in common other than a history, time will tell. And this night, I have to say, I am glad I will not be around long enough to know the answer to that question. Frankly, this night, I’m just not too perky about the future of a country I once loved.
The Rev. Harry Scott Coverston, J.D., Ph.D.
Member, Florida Bar (inactive status)
Priest, Episcopal Church (Dio. of El Camino Real, CA)
Instructor: Humanities, Religion, Philosophy of Law
University of Central Florida, Orlando
If the unexamined life is not worth living, surely an unexamined belief system, be it religious or political, is not worth holding.
Most things of value do not lend themselves to production in sound bytes.