Monday, November 10, 2008


BUT NO WE WON’T: Our hostess Saturday night had had enough with the post- election conversation at her birthday party and asked exasperatedly “please- can we stop talking about politics” to which the guests looked up, looked at each other and answered in unison “Yes We Can”.

And she isn’t the only one, although we worry about those depicted in this account from The Onion.

Obama Win Causes Obsessive Supporters To Realize How Empty Their Lives Are

While the alternative of four more years of stomach-churning fascism-creep might have quadrupled the sales of Prozac overnight, the coming depression born of unrequited devotion will yield to a rude awakening for many as the between-the-lines meaning of “yes we can” is reveled to be “well, yes, we could ... but, well, no, we won’t.”

Because the future no doubt holds out to be a mocking shadow of the policies most Democrats think their savior is going to actualize.

Yes we could get out of Iraq... but no, we’re going to not just going to stay for the foreseeable future, we’re actually going to ramp up the imperialistic colonialism in Afghanistan and maybe invade Iran and Pakistan to boot.

Yes we could initiate single, government-payer healthcare and eliminate the insurance, pharmaceutical and for-profit medical corporations from the equation... but no, we’re going to fully empower these overlords by further fracturing care, denying medications and services and mandating that people boost corporate health care profits.

Yes we could repeal NAFTA, GATT and all the other international corporate welfare programs or at least clamp down with strong environmental and worker protections... but no, we’re going to expand unbridled free trade until, instead of elevating all boats with a world-wide rising tide of living-wages and implementation of sustainable practices, we’ll let robber barons steal all the water, grounding the dinghies of workers of the world on the reef of abject poverty.

Yes we could invest in a renewable non-fossil, carbon-free, energy and infrastructure... but no, we will continue to drill off-shore, and support absurdly oxymoronic concepts like clean coal and safe nuclear energy

Yes we could fully regulate our financial system and institute worker-based fiscal policies... but no, we’ll continue to bail out the Wall Street casino denizens and rescue insurance companies, auto manufacturers and the rest of the den of thieves that just gave the candidates the billion they spent convincing you of whatever you wanted to believe.

Don’t forget- it was “change you can believe in”- the kind that takes a blind faith to swallow.

Amidst the verbal diarrhea from the TV talking heads in the post-election euphoria was the idea that we’ve somehow “moved beyond the 60’s” by electing the first “post-boomer”.

But that simply means giving up on fighting against things like hawkish war-mongering behavior, corporate control of the apparatus of government and the stripping of worker’s- and yes even civil- rights.

During the campaign a fellow unrepentant radical reprobate we know would, whenever the topic came up, start screaming "William Ayers for President"..

Boomer and 60’s radical Professor Ayers, unlike members of the progressively more self-absorbed and apathetic generations since, still holds onto the concept that we don’t have to compromise with those that seek our acquiescence in our own oppression.

So we’ll leave you with some words about the 60’s and their meaning today in an excerpt from Ayer’s first writings on the election. from In these Times

...That ’60s show

On Aug. 28, Stephen Colbert, the faux right-wing commentator from Comedy Central who channels Bill O’Reilly on steroids, observed:

“To this day, when our country holds a presidential election, we judge the candidates through the lens of the 1960s. … We all know Obama is cozy with William Ayers a ’60s radical who planted a bomb in the capital building and then later went on to even more heinous crimes by becoming a college professor. … Let us keep fighting the culture wars of our grandparents. The ’60s are a political gift that keeps on giving.”

It was inevitable. McCain would bet the house on a dishonest and largely discredited vision of the ’60s, which was the defining decade for him. He built his political career on being a prisoner of war in Vietnam.

The ’60s—as myth and symbol—is much abused: the downfall of civilization in one account, a time of defeat and humiliation in a second, and a perfect moment of righteous opposition, peace and love in a third.

The idea that the 2008 election may be the last time in American political life that the ’60s plays any role whatsoever is a mixed blessing. On the one hand, let’s get over the nostalgia and move on. On the other, the lessons we might have learned from the black freedom movement and from the resistance against the Vietnam War have never been learned. To achieve this would require that we face history fully and honestly, something this nation has never done.

The war in Vietnam was an illegal invasion and occupation, much of it conducted as a war of terror against the civilian population. The U.S. military killed millions of Vietnamese in air raids—like the one conducted by McCain—and entire areas of the country were designated free-fire zones, where American pilots indiscriminately dropped surplus ordinance—an immoral enterprise by any measure.

What is really important

McCain and Palin—or as our late friend Studs Terkel put it, “Joe McCarthy in drag”—would like to bury the ’60s. The ’60s, after all, was a time of rejecting obedience and conformity in favor of initiative and courage. The ’60s pushed us to a deeper appreciation of the humanity of every human being. And that is the threat it poses to the right wing, hence the attacks and all the guilt by association...

In a robust and sophisticated democracy, political leaders—and all of us—ought to seek ways to talk with many people who hold dissenting, or even radical, ideas. Lacking that simple and yet essential capacity to question authority, we might still be burning witches and enslaving our fellow human beings today.

Maybe we could welcome our current situation—torn by another illegal war, as it was in the ’60s—as an opportunity to search for the new.

Perhaps we might think of ourselves not as passive consumers of politics but as fully mobilized political actors. Perhaps we might think of our various efforts now, as we did then, as more than a single campaign, but rather as our movement-in-the-making.

We might find hope in the growth of opposition to war and occupation worldwide. Or we might be inspired by the growing movements for reparations and prison abolition, or the rising immigrant rights movement and the stirrings of working people everywhere, or by gay and lesbian and transgender people courageously pressing for full recognition.

Yet hope—my hope, our hope—resides in a simple self-evident truth: the future is unknown, and it is also entirely unknowable.

History is always in the making. It’s up to us. It is up to me and to you. Nothing is predetermined. That makes our moment on this earth both hopeful and all the more urgent—we must find ways to become real actors, to become authentic subjects in our own history.

We may not be able to will a movement into being, but neither can we sit idly for a movement to spring full-grown, as from the head of Zeus.

We have to agitate for democracy and egalitarianism, press harder for human rights, learn to build a new society through our self-transformations and our limited everyday struggles.

At the turn of the last century, Eugene Debs, the great Socialist Party leader from Terre Haute, Ind., told a group of workers in Chicago, “If I could lead you into the Promised Land, I would not do it, because someone else would come along and lead you out.”

In this time of new beginnings and rising expectations, it is even more urgent that we figure out how to become the people we have been waiting to be.


Katy said...

As the Welfare Poets say, "We didn't vote to get into this shit, and we won't vote to get out."

True democracy is in the streets.

Ace Harbinger said...

I'm confused.

We are told the inchoate coronation of Mr. Obama is the result of a groundswell of new voters across the land. Young voters, full of idealism for an America they have never seen. Heretofore disenfranchised voters, finally stepping up to the plate for one of their own. The dream - if not the very promise - of real change, so the line goes, is what brought out the multitudes to vote.

But there is not much talk about a nagging little statistic in all this: In 2008, FEWER votes were cast in the presidential election than in 2004.

One has to wonder, then, if this election reflects a whole new enthusiasm for participatory democracy, what happened to the other voters?


Andy Parx said...

Never heard the term Generation Jones- what’s the derivation?

And that same question has been baffling me too Ace. It’s hard to deny the hard evidence that young people and people who normally don’t vote showed up although much of it is anecdotal. But the exit polls show a general shift to a lower average age of voters this year

Perhaps it’s just as simple as people predicted- the Republican’s were so unenthusiastic about their candidate and brand that they not only didn’t volunteer and canvass for the McCain campaign they didn’t show up at the polls either... in about the same numbers as the newbies. Plus despite a lot of last minute “don’t give in now/don’t take anything for granted” from the Obama campaign many saw the landslide coming and decided they didn’t really need to vote. And the down ticket results bare this out too.

Katy said...

It's possible the Republicans didn't really want to win and have to be accountable for the mess. They are usually really crafty campaigners - the vile campaign of McCain/Palin almost seemed deliberately staged to turn off voters.