Last year I wrote that I wouldn’t say anything more about Obama unless I had to.
The Dem primaries are really bringing out a stack of ugly, aren’t they? Apart from the locker-room thinking that goes toward disparaging Edwards or Kucinich, we’ve got the usual gang of inbreds and their comments on Clinton and Obama. It’s funny, in a wretched gut-twisting sort of way, to see the right wing carefully stepping through their self-laid minefield of misogyny, sexism and racism as they try to find legitimate reasons to dislike the lead runners. It seems that, to them, the race has become all about gender and color.
But as Pam has pointed out, this isn’t happening with just the right wing. We know that cretins such as Limbaugh and Coulter are going to savage anyone in the Dem camp — it’s their raison d’être — and we know that they’re going to use the veiled (and not-so-) language of privilege in order to accomplish it. Seeing it happen from the left as well is simply shabby.
There are legitimate reasons to have qualms about either candidate; for instance, Clinton voted in favor of attacking Iraq, and Obama genuinely is a little green (though, to be honest, there’s simply no way in hell he could do a worse job than the inbred caretaker at 1600 Penna Ave right now, but that could also be said of Clinton). I’d rather see Edwards and Kucinich getting more attention, because it seems to me that they’re closer to the mark in terms of what the nation actually wants — but hey, this is our political American Idol, innit? So we can’t count on being right winning out.
But when qualms become covert attacks — particularly racist ones, or fearmongering ones, or attacks that try to make an issue of something that’s already been discussed openly and in publication — it makes it a hell of a lot easier to knock out of the running the candidate whose campaign appears to be supporting the tactics. For me, that shoves Clinton to the back of the line, I’m afraid.
It’s bad enough that we’ve got one major political party using the tactics of bigotry. It’s bad enough that the other major party is so conceptually limited that it won’t even do what the electorate is demanding of it and impeach the single worst, most dishonest, most unethical presidential administration in American history. When that party resorts to the very strategies employed by its rivals, it’s clear that the process in the US is not simply broken, but actually metastatic and probably beyond hope.
America is an empire in decline. Our heyday passed sometime in the 1950s (the early 1950s), when we had a chance to actively and materially improve the status of the entire damn planet but chose instead to pour all our resources into a damned-fool cold war and bigger! faster! more wasteful! cars. (Oh, and attack the odd nation or two that we didn’t like for some made-up reason or other.) Rather than remain a shining beacon on the hill, we sucked ourselves into a decades-long delusion of entitled supremacy.
That delusion was never valid, and those who were lied to all their lives are mad as hell now that they’re being awakened by reality, and pretty much all of them are still Bush supporters. Unfortunately that 25% or so of the US population still has far too much sway in domestic and international decisionmaking.
The only way — the only way — we can remain relevant into this century is to lose all of our arrogance, learn to get along with the neighbors (this is the rest of the planet, you know, not just Canada and Mexico) and start asking how we can help instead of imposing our will on nations which, increasingly, don’t particularly want to have anything to do with us.
And until we get someone in either party — or any party — who’s willing to actually say these things in a public forum, we’re going to continue our degenerating spiral, left and right wings broken, until we slam into the ground with predictable and final results.
Update: I’m not sure how to feel that Harold Bloom and I seem to be in sync on the empire-in-decline front.
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