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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

An Extremist View Of The Upcoming Election

I'm an Obama man. I wish I could say that I've been following the election in recent weeks with more attention than I give to The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, but I haven't, really. I've been paying a little attention to the whole Sarah Palin uproar, but even that... I guess I've been dedicated to the Democratic candidate - no matter who they were - from the start.

When I was in college, during the first presidential election that I could participate in, I voted for Ronald Reagan. I'm not proud of it. I was an ROTC kid, more-or-less indoctrinated by my dad who was a lifelong military and civilian-government man, (despite a very liberal attitude socially speaking) and since I thought I was going into the army myself, I voted out of baldfaced self-interest and helped elect that old fart. I've never made that mistake again.

But I have not failed to notice the "Kennedy-esque" vibes surrounding Barak Obama, and it's infected me with a reading binge on 1960's themes. I was born in September 1965, so I was too young to participate in the culture of "the 60's" in any meaningful way, but I do remember the pall hanging over the house during the CBS Evening News, back in the days when good ol' Walter Cronkite could still show GI's in Vietman blowing each other up.

It scared the shit outta me.

I also remember my very proper mother's disgust at the very idea of hippies ("They don't wash!" she'd gasp and shudder) even though hippies were so few and far between in Athens, Alabama to be extinct on a practical level... I guess I just want to know more about the era, what it was like at its best, and especially what it was like at its worst... and where it went wrong.

So, I started with Coming Apart: America In The Sixties, by William L. O'Neill and has it ever been an eye-opener. I want to finally move toward my point by quoting this passage at length:

"The very documents conservatives professed to admire - the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the collected works of Andrew Carnegie - were essentially liberal. Conservatives were against change and in favor of what caused it - technology, corporate growth, and such. In ordinary speech a conservative meant someone attached to an obsolete principle, like the gold standard or social Darwinism. In practice what defined them were predudices held in common. Conservatives opposed liberal administrations, civil rights, and being taxed for nonmilitary expenditures. They liked private property, religion, and General McArthur. Most of all they hated Communism."

Holy shit. I could never have described today's conservatives so well in a million years. I will, however, say what the respectful Mr. O'Neill wouldn't, or couldn't: they're hypocrites!

Now, I'm a hypocrite,too, but I'm working on it. At best, most of us are - if not downright hypocritical - filled with frustrating inconsistencies and contradictions. I've already copped to the Reagan thing. To this day, I still love shooting, and love old guns. I'm not a member of the NRA, and I think their stand on gun rights is almost totally insane - but I still don't want to give up my old black-powder muzzle-loaders and my .22's... I just don't see how by owning them I'm hurting anybody or society at large. This is another aspect of my "hypocrisy," and I cop to it. (Expect a future post discussing this particular issue at length, friends....)

But I just don't understand the Republican point of view at all. They use graphic imagery like shining snow-capped mountains and rippling rivers in their advertisments, but they shoot wolves from helicoptors and vote again and again and again to despoil just such pristine landscapes by drilling for oil and mining for... whatever. They argue with great passion about the need to allow schoolteachers every option to insert creationist propaganda into science courses, but if I wandered onto campus chatting about Buddha or Krishna or the great Celtic horned god Cernunnos, they'd shit a brick and have me dragged through the streets with my head shaved. Imagine the chaotic reaction from the right if, say, Romania wanted to build a military airbase on the outskirts of Kansas City... but we have military bases on foreign soil all over the world!

Perhaps you get my point by now, and O'Neill said it better anyway - and he wasn't even addressing the present. I guess I just don't understand how the overall historical trend can be so blatently liberal for so long, and yet they not only resist it, but call we liberals "immoral." I don't understand why it's okay for them to impress their views on me, but I can't press my views on them. I don't understand what it's gonna take to get them to get their Jesus outta my face! I don't understand why it's okay for them to attack obviously intelligent, obviously caring, liberal politicians like Obama as "elitist" when it is their policies and attitudes that define elitism. I know there are Republicans out there who don't hold these nutty views... can one of you explain this to me, and offer me any hope at all that the Republican partys' behavior and platform will one day return to some non-extremist form of sanity?

I don't want to turn into an extremist fanatic myself, but I feel like they're driving me to it. Sometimes the solutions to extreme problems are themselves unbalanced and extreme... but wait... they've even gotten me to think of my own attitudes - attitudes that even in Richard Nixon's time were considered pretty middle-of-the-road - as extreme! I once read somewhere that the political arguments in America have moved so far to the right that even if you're just barely to the left-of-center you come across like a raving Marxist, and that's what I'm starting to sound like. I've also read (Upton Sinclair?) that when fascism comes to America it'll be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross... I think we're already there, folks.

There's been a quaint and mildly humorous graphic going around the 'net lately, a photo of Obama looking confident and serious with the caption: Chill The Fuck Out. I Got This. Yeah, it's kinda cute, but we absolutely cannot chill the fuck out. He does not have this. Even in a totally fair election (which may no longer be possible in this country, sad to say) there's more than enough wingnuts out there to put McCain/Palin in office if we're complacent. I say that the democratic turn out for this election must be staggeringly overwhelming. Obama's margin of victory must be so shockingly huge that no amount of fraud could possibly call it into question.

'Cause hear this, people: do NOT put it past the Republican party machine to do ANYTHING it thinks it can get away with to retain power. They're like meth addicts slavering over their next fix, and they're worried as hell that they're not gonna get it. On top of that, they think they're morally entitled to it, and we're not. This is beyond dangerous, folks, and in my worst moments I almost expect fake terrorist attacks and suspensions of the Constitution in the days leading up to the election, not to mention outrageous voter fraud in magnitudes we've never imagined. Hear me: they will do whatever it takes to retain their power, status, and money, no matter how immoral or illegal, if they even halfway think they can get away with it. After all, they have so far!

This post is sloganistic and I know it. I sound like the extremists I argue against, and I know it. I don't like this aspect of myself, but there it is. NO politician is beyond question, and I know it - even the ones I'm putting my faith in. But I'm tired of watching my country slide, and I'm gonna get everybody I can to get out there and help get us back to where we once belonged.


Blogger Jackie said...

Amen Brother Thomspon!

8:37 AM  
Blogger CJS said...

Don't sound elitist or extremist to me. From where I'm sittin', brother, you right in the middle of the road with the community organizers and social activists who INVENTED THIS NATION.

It's our country. We need to take it back. And you're right--we need to take it back with such a massive landslide that no amount of voting-machine hacking or voter-caging or intimidation or fascist sloganeering lets them steal it AGAIN.

Dr Coyote (far-left "by all means necessary" radical and proud of it)

12:30 PM  

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