3 November 2010: Restoring sanity to America, or not

Restoring sanity to America, or not

Would you get over it?


This idealistic nonsense about restoring sanity to America!

Why do you say that? Why can’t it be done? And why is it idealistic?

Come on. History demonstrates xenophobia is one of our essential cornerstones. Fear of outsiders and their customs is as American as baseball and apple pie. First, it was Indians, then Catholics, then Indians again, and then Irish immigrants and slaves. Next, it was freed blacks, then immigrants from China and southern and eastern Europe, and labor organizers. In World War I, it was German-Americans; in World War II, Japanese-Americans; and in post-war America, communist sympathizers. Now it’s Muslims and Mexican immigrants. It’s the same story. We thrive on threats, sometimes real but mostly perceived, from the outside.

True, but we’re not predestined to our fate, despite John Calvin’s blathering, nor does history have to repeat itself.

Fear, though, has a bit of a twist this time.


Money, power, and sex—that which ultimately moves us.

OK, you got me.

Greed is second only to fear as a motivator. We talk about Satan and that silly stuff, but really it’s about accumulating wealth. Obviously in our market economy, one needs accrue money to live a comfortable lifestyle, but if you want to more than that, amassing wealth through market manipulation is your ticket. With excessive wealth comes power, which ties into sex, the ultimate form of dominance and pleasure for some. It’s not a right-left or male-only thing. Women have learned to play the game quite well.

That’s psycho-babble.

Look at what’s happened since Obama’s election. First, there is a sense of hope by liberals and despair by righties. Immediately, Rush bellows, “I want Obama to fail!” Then some clown with a pseudo understanding of history comes up with the idea of a Tea Party. No one with a mind takes him seriously, but Republican operatives, like Karl Rove, come to see the Tea Party as a real force. The rest, as they say, is history or at least history unfolding.

I’m not arguing with you; I just have hope that we can rise above that type of thinking.

I hear you, but that’s where you and I differ: I accept reality and you deny it.

But aren’t you subscribing to the very thing you ostensibly disdain?

No, it’s more like Halloween: acknowledging death while laughing at it.

It’s one thing to laugh at them or consider them vulgar as Garry Wills suggests William F. Buckley would have, but what about hope? If we always accept the present as our destiny, wouldn’t we still have Torquemadas burning witches and stretching infidels on the rack? Isn’t progress due to people who said “This is bulls**t” and forged a better world? Hasn’t it always been people—even those you disagree with on particulars like I do with Andrew Jackson—who take on the power elite?

True, but one difference today is the lethal mix of technology and JMS, jock male syndrome. Think about it: If Sarah Palin and her sister Tea Party female politicos didn’t look as if they could’ve starred in lite beer commercials 20 years ago, would middle-age, paunchy-gut, beer-swilling, Cialis-popping, post-stud males find them irresistible? Admittedly, the dynamics are far more complex than JMS, but you get the picture.

You’re such an incredible cynic!

Or maybe my perception of reality, cynicism you call it, is simply too unnerving for you. Perhaps the question before us is this: Was there ever validity to the idea of the American Dream, or does it merely serve as a cultural myth, a propaganda tool, a ploy that gets the masses to believe their lives will keep improving if they only work harder? Is it ultimately about keeping wealthy corporate and financial elites in power? You know, the gap between the top five percent and the bottom ninety-five continues to widen.

You just want to keep fear alive!

Au contraire. There are those that absolutely do, but don’t confuse me with them. Perhaps your dream to restore sanity is a pipe dream, if only your pipe had some good stuff.

Right on, but let me ask you this: Was there ever a time in our history when sanity ruled?

That’s a good question. I think of the 1950s, yet it was the era of blacklisting and duck-and-cover: fear from within and from out. And consider what’s happened since: the demise of Eisenhower Republicans, species extinction in the political world.

I see. So have we now gone back to the future, repeating the past because we’ve failed to learn from it?

You tell me.

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