Saturday, January 7, 2017
Comment at "Contrary Brin", on why I sat out the 2012 vote
David, Following your comments thread, this one got me: "But the balance sheet is hugely in favor of the American Peace. Violence has plummeted and child health and education skyrocketed. The world that Roosevelt and Marshall built is better than any that ever was." The balance has been in our favor. In my first comment here I proposed that as a civilization we are poised near the right most extremity of an epochal pendulum swing. Along the course of that century long swing America was truly exceptional and "the world that Roosevelt and Marshall built" was central to that exceptionalism.
However, we have recently incorporated torture into our cultural norms, we have abandoned the prosecution of fraud against the rich and powerful, we have legislated an executive right to assassinate US citizens on foreign soil at the sole discretion of an increasingly imperial presidency that has made Nixon's transgressions look timid, even naive. These execrable policies are legacies of the last administration that could easily have been repudiated by the current one under the cover of party change, but instead have now been consolidated into the bipartisan consensus in DC, the consensus that whatever the powerful do there must be no negative consequence for themselves.
Born into the GOP in the deep South(west), the sight of my parents and their friends, good people for the most part, reduced to maniacal if not outright homicidal hysteria by what seemed and continues to seem to me the racial progress of Johnson's policies, I fled that society before its descent into evangelical fanaticism. The Democratic party has now incorporated all of what was worst of that Southern GOP I fled into its own establishment. This "left" critique of Ron Paul, about whom I mostly agree with what you've said, is illuminating in that it shows just how destructive the scope of real bipartisan consensus in Washington is, at the same time outlining a region of broad agreement between the "left" many libertarians.
Maybe as you say, lefties want to expand horizons and seek problems to solve while righties don't want change thrust upon them, but with the radicalism that passed for conservativism for the last twelve years, and yes I am including Obama as this kind of "conservative" (what power relationship has he changed, has he not conserved?), change is coming now hard and fast. Global climate change is real, the "Sovereign debt crisis" is a hoax, but our politics have been holding this reality on its head for twelve to fourteen years. Greed is virtue, up is down, good is bad etc. Last October at an INET conference George Soros said "the system has collapsed, it's just that no one recognizes it yet". I still hold that we are at or near that ultimate rightward position on the techno/cultural pendulum swing. The reverse swing will happen despite every entrenched power centers strenuous effort to prevent it and with 7 billion souls in the world the change will come fast and frightening.
When I meet people who describe themselves as conservative I always ask them what it is they conserve. I consider myself a "conservative" who is trying to conserve the positive legacy of the enlightenment and our New Deal inheritance of democratic capitalism. The gridlock of our politics has not held back change, it has merely prevented the changes accelerating around us from adversely affecting those who currently wield political or economic power, and even then only within our own borders. Those without power have been abandoned to the torrents of transformation and are making the future now because they have no choice, and it may not be one we like.
The center pieces of the Marshall Plan, Germany and Japan have, with our encouragement, taken our scientific advances and applied them to real technology even as we export our own productive capacity to them and to China. The difference between Republicans and Democrats on all these issues is just in tone. I left Texas over a quarter century ago to escape repugnant racial views like those Paul has recently been pilloried for from his past but as Greenwald discusses in detail in the first link above Paul is providing a real service to everyone that continues to want America to stand for freedom. I don't know that I could vote for him, but I don't know that there will be anyone I can vote for this time around. A first for me.
Change has overwhelmed our political system it seems to me. It's almost like it's 1989 again but we are the Soviet Union, what can not work won't; what can not last won't; debts that can not be repaid will not be repaid. But our national debt is not in that category, Europe's are (second link above). Are Russians better off now than they were in 1989? Will we be in twenty years? Neither Democrats or Republicans other than Paul have anything to say about any of this in the run up to a national election. Reality has left our politics behind. As William Gibson said, "the future has arrived, it is just poorly distributed", none of it has made it inside the beltway!
Four years after I wrote the above, we have Trump as President and the CIA trying to initiate a coup. Our first Banana Republican President!