Tuesday, September 29, 2009

If not now, when?

Well, it looks like never.

Oh my God, was Will Rogers right. I indeed belong to no organized political party.

Mr. President, Madame Speaker, Sen. Reid, et al., how did you screw this up so badly?

Mr. President, you were the pitcher who walked onto the mound after his team had just given him a huge lead in the first. All you have to do is throw strikes. Oh wait, I forgot--you're from Chicago, not the best place for baseball analogies.

To the leaders of Congress, I have but one question. WHAT [other than yes, I know, losing insurance company money] THE HELL WERE YOU AFRAID OF??? The Republicans came out of the 2008 electoral cycle at their weakest in decades. The unholy alliance of Wall Street and the mouthbreathers who want Jesus to stop boys from kissing had shattered, with the former exposed as larcenous criminals and the latter as a nativist, racist, xenophobic band of Glenn Beck-following sheeple. Their party stood in ruins and you let THEM define the debate. How do you do that?

As a historian, what fascinates me most is not Democratic incompetence (Lord knows there is nothing remarkable about THAT. Sunrise, sunset, Democratic incompetence). Rather it is the elevation of a fringe miniority from the depths of obscurity to a position of power not only in their own, albeit crippled, party, but in the national arena as a whole.

Note that this phenomenon--the tea baggers, the town hall protesters, Sarah Palin supporters, etc.--is nothing new. Throughout American history we have had the fringe elements of the nativists, the anti-intellectuals, the xenophobes, etc. Now to this old mix we add the accelerant of race to the fire, and something remarkable happens. Historians for generations to come will puzzle over the question of how a marginalized minority of nutcases, IMMEDIATELY after an electoral thrashing, comes to dominate the political landscape.

I don't have an answer. Maybe Will Rogers does.

1 comment:

Carlos said...

I'm not as pessimistic as you, Peter. I think when all is said and done we'll have a healthcare bill that's pretty close to what the President wanted, including a public option.

The deeper problem is corporate money in politics. Public financing of elections would fix this immediately.