Ignoring my only-half-joking desire to never again travel to foreign lands, the ntrepid family managed to temporarily leave the familiar confines of our Texas home base for the annual late July pilgrimage to the state of my birth (read as: took the kids to visit Grandma & Grandpa…with the added bonus of spending time with Great Grandma.)
My chosen reading along the way included Christopher Hitchens’ “Why Orwell Matters” and the very long piece from The American Spectator (TAS) “America’s Ruling Class – And the Perils of Revolution” (1). As it turned out, these selections provided more than enough depressive reality to offset many of the rich experiences along the way: the Strategic Air and Space Museum, a week at small town (population < 5000 & one stop light) pace, rural county fair festivities, and the Oklahoma City National Memorial....just to name a few. All this and the marvelous drive…no doubt scenic boredom to the extreme for most Americans…through my America. (Notwithstanding two kids tortuously five-point-harnessed into minimized viewing pleasure.)
The referenced “disconnectedness” was refreshing in some ways but also more than a bit unsettling. Day after day of experiencing current events nominally like most of America – headlines and thirty second news snippets only…with no real details or critical analysis – a news junkie’s nightmare. (During one visit, an old friend laughed about being forced to watch Sunday morning talking head programming at my house back in the early 90s…my wife informed her that I have now perfected continuous dual programming – cable TV news channels and AM talk radio blaring throughout the house at the same time. Is this torture?)
Anyway, a few thoughts from along the way…
It’s the Spirit that Matters
While not as vocal as revealed on this trip a year ago, it was obvious to me that the Tea Party spirit in my little corner of the heartland runs true and very deep. Additionally, it becomes clearer every day that this “spirit”, or what I’ve referenced before as the “soul of discontent” (2) (3), really is an awakening and a frame of mind. Hitchens referenced the phenomenon via Pasteur as “…the mind that is conditioned to notice…” and Orwell being “conditioned to keep his eyes open…to register the evidence”. It took generations to lull the collective American spirit into the trance epitomized by the election of 2008 but now it has been awakened…shocked to attention and full of the resulting adrenaline…and more importantly conditioned to notice the ongoing deceptions and bipartisan disdain flowing freely from the current ruling class. The republic as we know it is definitely in trouble but this spirit will not sleep again anytime soon.
While probably obvious to others all along, I also noticed with more clarity the way in which mass media for an ADD society persistently and deliberately misinterprets the word “party” in the movement’s unofficial name as a standing political organization instead of merely a part of a revolutionary historical reference - as if equating the movement to (or framing the story as) something as organized, institutionalized, and homogeneous as the two corrupt and corrupting entities that are so massively failing us today. This perspective of the movement completely and, I say again, deliberately misses (misrepresents) the point. Nevertheless, I suspect this iceberg of a movement is well more massive than the clever shading the media chooses to project upon the less daunting visible tip transmits.
The Progressive Label
I continue to be perplexed by the rampant self labeling as progressive by so many on today’s left. It may well be the best descriptor of their beliefs and agenda but common sense and modern marketing practice would seem to dictate avoidance of a term with such a not-so-distant sordid – and easily retrievable – past. I cannot imagine that fifteen minutes of basic internet research into the history of that movement wouldn’t elicit a gag reflex in any being infected with an ounce of Americanism. (For starters, search the topic era with Wilson, Sanger, eugenics, income tax, Jim Crow, and/or direct election of senators.) Such arrogance would seem to support TAS’s contention that the ruling class – specifically those on the radical left – think we are stupid.
That should play well with the newly “conditioned” electorate (see above).
Knowing the Opposing Forces
Over the last year or so I have picked up and expanded a habit of highlighting and noting in my books as I read them. In some cases – most notably Friedman – this becomes a somewhat useless exercise because such a great portion of the text ends up marked that finding a specific reference will require substantial rereading anyway.
Somewhere along the way I began underlining any form of the word “bureaucrat”. After many books on many topics from many perspectives one thing jumps out with incredible obviousness: these references are almost never – and I struggle to include that word almost – in a positive context.
In his discussion around some of last century’s most notable evils, Hitchens’ Orwell is quoted on “necessary murders”:
“…they don’t speak of it as murder; it is ‘liquidation’, ‘elimination’, or some other soothing phrase…(this) brand of amoralism is only possible if you are the kind of person who is always somewhere else when the trigger is pulled”
Consider that wisdom in relation to “fictional” death panels (bureaucrats) and substitute “plug” for “trigger”.
By the way, elections have virtually no effect on these people…their power remains static at best but most often grows and grows and grows…
The following lore of optimism from Dr. Franklin (via Wikipedia) circa the birth of this greatest nation has never seemed so distant:
“I have,” said he, “often and often in the course of the Session, and the vicissitudes of my hopes and fears as to its issue, looked at that behind the President without being able to tell whether it was rising or setting: But now at length I have the happiness to know that it is a rising and not a setting Sun.”
I have no doubt we are nearing the end of that glorious day. While an immediate and massive rightward electoral shift is a must to manage the pain, we shouldn’t fool ourselves. Even 537 new…and unrealistically pure…elected faces in DC would have little impact against the structural cancers already in place and actively devouring liberty – present and future. The system is corrupt and perverted to the core. (See the term “ethics committee” is association with either chamber of our legislative branch for the former and “nonpartisan CBO” (4) for the latter…just for starters) This well is spoiled.
Considering a total rightward – or more accurately, a Tea Party - shift later this year, TAS warns of the damaging effects of implementing the needed policy reversals:
“…by carrying out its own ‘revolution from above’ to reverse the ruling class’s previous ‘revolution from above,’ it would have made that ruinous practice standard in America.”
Again, this well is spoiled.
Franklin’s sun will rise again but I suspect my grandchildren – to be born in the 20s or 30s – or their kids may be the ones to see it. Prepare for the long, cold night (a slow, painful decline).
My optimism tank is running very low.
Proud Redstate Member since April 2006…?
(4) I suppose we will never really know to what extent the CBO - or some not-so-nonpartisan members within its ranks - was complicit in being used…as in “soiled”…during the March health care process but the deliberate and barely hidden manipulation of the inputs to produce the barely accurate, headline grabbing, desired output using wildly improbable assumptions was shameful. This could turn into another diary so I’ll stop there…