Thursday, 4 November 2010

Beyond blue and red

During his campaign President Obama eloquently preached about superseding the false barriers of race, religion, color and party identification in the pursuit of common national goals. Just one problem with that: there is no agreement on what our national goals actually are, and so the barriers of race, religion, etc., etc., are not so false after all.

That was never clearer than this week with the openly racist Tea Party vying with old-line Republican godfathers to see who could display more pettiness of spirit. The overwhelming impression is that of a political system kidnapped by the forces of bullying entitlement and guarded by armies of lumpen enforcers who stand by ready to crush dissent.

Meanwhile, fully intimidated Democratic party hacks huddle disconsolate in a distant corner and spit at their erstwhile constituencies—unions, blacks, women, gays, immigrants, the poor, the sick, the vulnerable. In fact, the sorry state of what purport to be the humane political forces is far more disturbing than the ugliness of the elitist demagogues.

Obama is the principal engineer of this kneecapping of our side, never so well expressed as at his $30,000-a-plate Greenwich fundraiser in which he caricatured the ‘professional left’ that always sees the glass half-empty. ‘And gosh, we haven’t yet brought about world peace,’ mocked the guy we put into office. By contrast, the Republicans, who don’t see the glass at all (and if they did, would stick it in his eye), are welcomed in eager pursuit of ‘bipartisanship’.

But in one sense, Obama the campaigner is right—we are moving toward a social consensus in a number of areas. No one seems much worried any more about wars (including the two we continue to pursue); global warming is either a hoax or no big deal; and racism is over except for those resentful minorities who continue to dislike white people. Although agreement on these topics is not yet universal, the public debate on them is pretty much dead. Certainly ever fewer Democrats would risk an attack from Fox by raising them.

Those topics off the table, things do get much simpler: TAXES, GOVERNMENT, SPENDING, TERRORISM = BAD. Markets (while not quite as convincingly virtuous as before) = GOOD and certainly better than SOCIALISM/OBAMACARE. And to summarize, UNITED STATES = STILL THE GREATEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD, just temporarily hijacked by a Kenyan tribe.

What will the future bring to a nation so enveloped in its comforting illusions and daily less inclined to entertain doubts about them? When the inevitable terrorist strike on an American city actually succeeds, how quickly will our remaining civil protections be jettisoned—by Obama himself?

Given the extant consensus, I am comfortably detached from any regret over the oscillations of electoral contention such as those that occurred on Tuesday. The nation proceeds upon its downward trajectory; we pursue the Reaganite will-o-the-wisp, to ‘feel good about America’ once again; and evidence to the contrary is not to be admitted. Cultural anthropology is set to make a comeback.

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