I can feel it again, the same as in 2007, I can feel the spirit of Change in the air and on the airwaves. But I am not filled with the same Hope that I was then, believing that the time of the imperialist Neo-Conservatives was coming to an end, stepping us further away from the cliff of international isolationism. Anyone who knows me knows I am a passionate Obama-ite, always believing in his desire to improve our country even if I don’t agree with every measure. When Scholar and I wrote “Ready 4 a Change” we were attempting to capture a feeling we felt was ubiquitous and when Obie was elected in 2008 I remember feeling that we were headed somewhere new and progressive as a nation. I still believe that there is much President Obama could have accomplished if not for the bitter hatred held by his opposition from the beginning (read: lightly veiled racism). I now see him in a new light, the rock against which the tide was to break, exposing the vileness within the political Right, bringing termites like the Tea Party to the surface and eventually causing the implosion of what feigns for American Conservatism in the modern age. This week House Speaker John Boehner announced his resignation amidst cries that even he was not conservative enough for the extremist Right. And as the GOP tears at its own skin in search of leadership it exposes its own lack of cohesion. With the scent of Change wafting and then swirling, I can’t help but wonder, “What comes next?” Is the dystopian President Trump future somehow an inevitable dark cloud that must descend, showing us our own horrific reflection before the US is remade into a Columbian visionary state? Must we first get worse before we get better? Is there anyone with their hand on the wheel or are we all just aboard a boisterous, blow-hard Ship of Fools sailing toward the Falls?
From opposite sides but amidst the same shitstorm Obama and Boehner have now both become (for different lengths of time) lame duck activists. What does this say about who the real enemies of progress are?
One of the biggest things that always strikes me when listening to those running for and/or holding public office is the abundance of pointing out problems and a lack of solutions. No one knows what to do about immigration, for example. It is an issue intrinsically tied to our economy, and while many folks can find ideological reasonings to take issue with our immigrant population there are few who actually have any conceived solution to bringing order to the process.
And that to me is so much of my problem with the Right. It’s not that some conservative principles wouldn’t be helpful and provide balance, it’s that all the pent-up anger and selfishness in the world doesn’t add up to practical solutions and is therefore useless and solely self-serving. You can yell about the deficit until you’re red in the face (Red in the States) but refusing to acknowledge the real causes, forestalling the government for petty partisan politics and spending more time slinging mud than brainstorming for answers, is even more short-sighted than it is puerile. If I were to ever run for office I think I’d take on the simple slogan, “Less problems, More solutions”. If you don’t have a proposed solution then you don’t get to waste our time and attention pontificating on the problem, you just have to shut the fuck up. Iran stands as one of the most powerful nations in the world, in a region of great turmoil and change. Yet there are those who are angered by our engagement with the Iran Nuclear Deal, flabbergasted and disgusted that we would even negotiate with such an entity. But such arguments are constructed out of fear and anger, not sound political policy with an eye on the future. Demand a better deal, they say. –What kind of better deal? – Oh, uh, I have no idea, I’m just saying… -nope, you shut the fuck up.
Carly Fiorina came out this week to say that waterboarding in the War on Terror arrests kept us safer, despite the fact that there is no evidence to support that statement and considerable time spent in this report to say that almost nothing of value was learned during these and other torture sessions. And while I have obvious ethical problems with the condoned use of torture, the bigger issue is again the short-sightedness, the willful ignorance. Had we come out of the second Gulf War having subdued the international militant extremism that we called Terror, the World may have looked at us a true warriors for good, doing what is necessary, even when it is not easy. But real power comes from knowing what the fuck you’re doing and while the US wishes it was still the world’s policeman, we no longer command or deserve a presence above that of a schoolyard bully. We are foolish and foolhardy (which are different), wandering into fights we don’t comprehend, smacking people who we don’t bother to know or understand in the face and expecting them to bow down to our fat-ass, gun-toting “’Merica!” rally cries. We are willfully stupid. There are some who actually believe that other places in the world hate us because they “hate Freedom”, rather than because we walk around like a country with its hairy, average-sized dick hanging out, half-drunk thinking we’re the sexiest guy at the party (in a socio-political metaphoric sense, of course).
What I yearn for is a moderate, progressive liberal, one to quell the notion that we pinkos are trying to steal the country while pushing forward with the forced social evolution this nation so desperately needs. We need someone who will dream big but play rough and do some house-cleaning before embarking on the next social change mission. The Left will never be trusted if we continue to act like a kid with our first credit card and lack a sense of cohesive vision. We cannot be only reactionary, though the hate machine does make a formidable foe against which to be on constant defense. We need to find smart, economically practical and growth-inducing ways to push the tide of renewable energy. We need to construct a stronger foreign policy, one bent on changing the US’s international image as well as domestically educating ourselves to our role in the 21st century.
And then there’s the mass shootings, this week at Oregon Community College where 10 victims were claimed and 7 people injured. Many folks are going to be angry at President Obama for “politicizing” the tragedy and I’ve even counted myself in that number before, able to see the claimed insensitivity that comes from proposing legislative action only hours after an incident, appearing to be more interested in political gain than personal sympathy. But I rescind that position today as I realize that it is already a political issue in nature, especially given the fact that we are the only nation on the planet where these shootings regularly occur and most often performed by American citizens, not visitors. If any of these school shootings were instead proven terrorist attacks performed by an outsider to our country we’d have an enraged populace immediately clamoring for social and political action. We’d have cries for tougher immigration standards, new and aggressive foreign policy initiatives, and other measures to make sure such a tragedy never occurs again. But when it comes to the issue of American citizens and their “God-given” right to have guns as laid out in the Constitution, half of our citizenry turns a blind eye to measures that alter our violent landscape, claiming that such occurrences are simply one of the costs of Freedom. “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” goes the ridiculous axiom, easy to utter but willfully ignorant of a firearm’s capacity and purpose. Cars don’t kill people either but you get the wrong drunken asshole behind the wheel and you’ve got a 2-ton killing machine
I’m not a proponent of eliminating guns. I have been to gun ranges a handful of times and I think that learning how to properly use one is a good life skill, just like learning to swim, knowing how to change a tire, and learning the basics of how to fight. When and if the time comes that you have to use a gun, not knowing what you’re doing leaves you incredibly vulnerable. Guns are tools used for a specific and powerful purpose (i.e. killing) and yet we in the US treat them like some kind of toy for adults, eagerly buying the biggest instruments of death we can to account for our tiny libido. We are cavalier about them, often Plaxico’ing ourselves in the knee, foot, or balls because we believe carrying a weapon in our waistband makes us tough and unstoppable. If the Founding Fathers had any idea we’d be carrying around the 21st century equivalent of a ship’s cannon, able to kill a crowd in a few seconds, I’d wager they may have re-worded the Second Amendment. No citizen needs an assault rifle, yet we just file that under “’Merica” and “Freedom” when the debate begins. We are rather sickening in our willful ignorance.
I don’t know where we are headed next or who will lead us but I can smell the Change in the air. And it smells like gunsmoke and hate-mongering, not progress.