16.11.06

A Loud Call for Silence

Subtitled "The Democratic Reconquest, Milton Friedman RIP, and Silence".

If you wait long enough to blog, everything becomes old news. But if you wait even longer, fresher news comes. And if you hold-off another day or so, you might actually have something useful to say about all of it. In that case, perhaps I should wait one more day, but anyway --

So the Democrats have finally retaken Congress. How long did that take? In the face of what is in strong competition to be the worst presidency in American history -- the democrats have finally taken House and Senate in a majority, finally placed their first lady of the minority whip in the seat as the (historic) first lady Speaker of the House.

Now don't get me wrong. It's good news, but painfully late and lacking in sliding mud.

Also, while the Republicans in the Senate have been heinous of late, the worse still is their executive head. Will the democratic Congress seek to curb the President? Probably. But he's already a lame duck and his approval ratings are so low it's a misnomer.

It's been a long, sad, scary and ultimately destructive ride for the American people and democracy.

It will be hard (very hard) to rectify even any one piece of damage, least of all the Constitution-thing.
And it's not clear they're up to the task.

Perhaps they're less recently riddled by the fast and brutal volley of ignominious scandal. And it's true whatever moral failings their individuals may have are not underlined in contrast by a composite hypocrisy and irony, as with republicans. It's harder though to fail publicly and morally on greenhouse gas issues than family values issues. -- to be fair. [But boy, when the vice versa does come-- that will be the day.)

The democrats lack creative ideas, lack effective and plausible solutions, lack empowered leadership, lack even a certain discipline in 'message' delivery to cover all this up (as Lakoff has described).
They're still a better alternative to the republicans-- but by what measure it's hard to say. it's been long enough in their latency that it's difficult to tell how their ideas have developed, if clearly, and with what shared coherence. It's difficult to know yet how tightly they will grip the wheel after just getting their license reinstated. It's difficult to know how moderate they will act, as they struggle to create a differentiated and unique voice as a party. Will they focus on shoving liberal policy down the throat of the legislative body, instead of contemplating the careful, humble work of repairing a worn nation, torn founding document, and dispirited electorate?

Enough creative (creationist) theories have scourged the nation. What we need is more of less. More intelligence, less public flailing for superbly-simple-minded "Action". Americans need more thoughtful leadership, and less posturing for photo-ops.


There's no promise yet that people we voted out were replaced with the people we want to vote in. There's no proof yet that in an attempt to "show leadership" the democrats won't dig a new hold beside the old one.
I suppose there's never any guarantee , and that's why it's called an 'experiment'. But after 200 years, even trees learn something, even the landscape changes. Even mountains move. And, as I learned yesterday, even blind mice can regain their sight.
No. I take it back, there are 'supposed to be' some guarantees: like freedom of speech, the privacy of citizens, and at least the checks-and-balances to audit a rotten system.

Right and Left. Left and Right.
The only thing they both have right for sure is that the other surely doesn't have all the answers.

Yet, citizens live and die. Vote and abstain. Are borne down by the bad luck of bureaucracy and are saved by the justice of the courts. Here we are, born here, bred here, immigrated here or are guilty of taking the freedom innate to us but not freely given.

In international political legal theory, so long as there exists freedom of movement (some immigration and emigration deterrences not withstanding), an individual is viewed as a subject to his or her social contract by implicit choice. I may be born here, in other words, but by not resigning my nationality I am implicitly approving of my country and condoning my government to some extent.
A friend (a dear friend) of mine has a great heart-shaped tattoo on his muscular bicep (he's posed as a professional model) that reads, over a background of the American flag, 'Love it or Leave it.'
If only it were that simple, some moan. But it is even simpler than that, and by my friend's meaning too: If you love it, then improve it. And if you don't love it, then change it; Or you don't deserve it and it doesn't deserve to be tarnished by you.

It's sad, but mostly native Americans take it for granted. We love liberty, yes, but a deep love understands its origins, its enemies, its weaknesses, even its faults. (Democracy and liberty are not accidents---they were dearly won, bought.)

What we have instead are romantics. And instead of reviving our flailing democracy --- a democracy living on a history of participatory citizens and the failure of a more successful and rapacious parasite to emerge --- the two parties take turns at swiping at it from opposing ends. (As if beating from front and back would set a body upright, rather than bruise it all around.)
Some have deadlier aim than others. But still, cutting less deep to the core in harm is hardly helping.

So where is this happy note going? Silence, hopefully. (And no, smart ass, not from me!) I would really like our politicians, -- as the phrase 'public servant' has become so anachronistic with tarnish---, to be silent for a little while. Please. Let them go on a retreat, (might I suggest a religiously-neutral monastery or a mountain retreat?) and sit together in nonpartisan cross-legged discomfort, striped of $500 fine wool suits, bare of cell phone and blackberry, and commune together a little while. The most useful politician today is the one who will take a moment of silent, peaceful protest of the status quo instead of boiling over with hot foam trying to roll-off pork barrel legislation.

Silence.

Today a voice of reason went silent. It was not always the most 'reasonable' voice-- zealous as it was in its cause. But then, it's hard enough to get some truth heard in this ruckus, it almost forces one to scream. Though many disagreed with him in whole or part (myself included), this voice was a voice of reason quite apart from the mad tea party. Not that it's easy to tell at this decibel. And that is why we are forced to rely n distinguished awards---he has a Nobel--- and intellectual impact--- until recently he was a living legend.
Now, unfortunately, he's silent. And will forever be vulnerable to misrepresentations-- both by his admirers and his critics. Milton Friedman, RIP, despite our deviations from clinical theory.

Silence.

And maybe a few citizens will be so shocked and befuddled by the sudden absence of cacophony --- the crisp silence of authority--- that they will start to talk.

Silence. Let the people speak.

18 Comments:

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good luck

dave

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theotherwaldo said...

(Yawn) Foreign war is unpopular. The president is unpopular. Congress is even more unpopular. Evolution rules, so we're all meaningless mutant monkeys.
Come on, you're tune is putting us to sleep

Anonymous said...

Right on the money, I say. Some just are not interested in what is going on in our govt til it is too late.

Anonymous said...

I have voted in every election for the past several years. Does my vote count? Hell yeah. Did I vote out the idiots this time? Hell yeah. Democracy works when everybody contributes. California had one of the lowest election participation ever this November. How sad is that.

Anonymous said...

What a great blog... You are so right in so many ways. Except for the part about us being native americans because the actual native americans have no rights and still have to pay tax and are all drunk and penniless. I wonder what they would say about democracy? That aside, how well written, thouroughly developed, and true, which is the best part. I loved it, hands down one of the best overall pieces of writing I have read in a very long time. thank you.

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Elys said...

Good Morning! I'm italian girl Elizabeth. Your blog is very beautiful!

Anonymous said...

hey, interesting blog. the overall effect works. and the long ramblings reflect 1 thing: bush has effectively ruined america.
i completely agree.

chris said...

All the politicians to be silent for a day? Representatives of the population are elected to legislate and to debate policy and to make noise.

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Anonymous said...

Hi from Germany, and thanks for your blog, a sensible voice in worrisome times. Keep it up.
All the best, and merry christmas
-Stefan.

WVMan said...

Liked your blog, Loved your message,
Dems will be better,if we pressure them.
Dennis Kucinitch `08

Lori Manning said...

Interesting isn't it, that Pythagoras believed unity anulls differences and the harmony of the multiple ends in SILENCE.
This was mostly his thought and theory about reality and the origin of matter in numbers but, translate it any way you want and it speaks volumes about where this country needs to be. United for ourselves and for the proliferation of truth and harmony in the world.
I likle your blog, rock on!

Steph said...

I appreciate your straight-forward opinions about the politics of your country. It's a topic on the lips of people all over the world, but so often we don't get an honest American perspective. It's so refreshing! Congrats on your 'Blogs of Note' status- it's well deserved!

Morgan Green said...

I also believe that the Democrats need to get their act together and that they might fail us, even now that they control the house. Their past doesn't inspire much confidence, while the Republicans win somehow with mixed messages carefully designed and delivered to the foolish masses.

Morgan Green Visit upliftingthoughts.org

Snickering Corpses said...

Quote: They're still a better alternative to the republicans-- but by what measure it's hard to say.

It's interesting, because from the other side of the aisle, I've felt the same way. "The Republicans are still a better alternative to the Democrats -- but by what measure it's hard to say."

As a Republican, I was disappointed to see the last congress spend pork money just as badly as their Democratic predecessors, and a thorough lack of movement on the issues that are important to me. I was reading BBC evaluations of the election afterwards, and it struck me that most of their commentators essentially said that it wasn't that the Democrats won by inspiring with ideas. It was that the Republicans lost by doing nothing inspiring to their own voters.

Even aside from which side either of us is on, I think it's sad that neither side really provided anything inspiring. As one source put it, the Democratic campaign slogan was "We're not Bush", and the Republican one was often "We're not Bush either."

Becks said...

I would have to agree with theotherwaldo...not the monkey thing, but yawn! That said, ... Bush, the worst president? Hello, Nixon anyone? Or better yet Jimmy Carter. Come on. Don't you democrats have anything better to do than complain about republicans and the weather. I'm not up for a political debate being a self proclaimed political idiot...but even I can see the obvious.