Thursday, November 6, 2014
"I would advise everyone I love not to mix with it."
The big Republican win Tuesday night didn't bother me much.
I'm not sure why.
Cynicism triumphant, perhaps.
Given what the Democratic majority in the Senate could accomplish—not much—the Republicans probably won't be able to inflict a lot of damage before they, in turn, are swept out, and it'll be fun to see them try.
Of course, I'm not one of the 10 million Americans who got access to health insurance for the first time last year under Obamacare, and it'll be difficult to have it yanked away.
Frankly, I can't quite imagine the Republicans are really going to do that, really kill a successful health care program out of their hatred of the man who created it. But maybe they will, though dismantling a system that is working pretty well, despite their best efforts. That isn't quite the path to the future, is it?
Then again, none of what they're doing is the path to the future, and that's why I'm not too broken up about the current crop of right wing politicians who, playing our political musical chairs, found their ample butts squeezed into an elective office when the voters lifted the needle off the record.
This all is cyclical, we should know by now, and the more the Republicans try to drag us back toward their cherished, imaginary past, the more we'll lurch into the future on the backswing, if we just wait a little.
The waiting is difficult, I know. But always remember: we're a nation that can't get rid of the penny. Change, even tiny, necessary, change, comes hard to us, to our shame.
The bottom line, for me, is that while Republicans can ignore facts, facts do not in turn ignore Republicans. They live in our world too, though they don't seem to know it, to realize the realities underlying all this are true for both parties. Sure, they can build their coveted Keystone Pipeline now. But global warming is still real, and at some point we're going to have to pull back from fossil fuels. Maybe the damage won't be as bad as they predict; the world, after all, never did choke on overpopulation, did it? If Republicans have a way of ignoring looming disaster, Democrats have a way of overstating it. Nobody's perfect.
The incoming Congress can seal the borders. But the country still grows more Latino day by day, and one fine day they're going to wake up, look blinking at one another, realize their numbers, and boom. Suddenly immigration reform will happen, the way gay marriage suddenly happened, shifting from impossibility to done deal, seemingly overnight (to latecomers; for those fighting the good fight, it didn't happen so fast).
Keep gay marriage in mind. Sure, Republicans might try to roll back the astounding progress we've made as a society, trying to keep their base of ignorant haters happy. But the change is already done. You can't unring a bell, as the lawyers say. The granite floor to the issue, the bedrock of fact—it can't be repeated enough—is that gay people make no worse spouses or parents than anybody else. Once we're standing solidly on that, it's going to be difficult—I think impossible—for the Republicans to shift the landscape so it's once again based on their little puddle of fear and religious bias.
I'm not so sure it won't be diverting to watch them try.
The Democrats certainly have their share of blame. President Obama has been passive and aloof for months, if not years. I read a lot, yet have no idea what he stands for or what he intends to do, what he's willing to take a risk to achieve. Maybe he has no idea either. In the final analysis, when historians try to figure out what went wrong with him, you won't need too many masters degrees to realize he should have failed more, not less, should have engaged that golden mouth of his for a few causes he really, truly believed in, assuming they exist, no matter how well or how poorly they polled, and tried to ramp things up before the midterms, not put his ethics in a blind trust until after, cravenly trying to avert the disaster that came anyway.
Maybe if he had bothered to tell the American people what this election was about, before, they wouldn't have decided it was about him forgetting to be president.
I dislike politics, as a rule. It's like sports: the same thing happening over and over. The same overpaid egomaniacs spouting meaningless platitudes. I'm glad this election is over, and maybe we can have a few months respite before the next one begins, assuming it hasn't begun already, which it probably has. These are not proud days for America, the country is lost in fog, sunk into inertia, screwing up at home and overseas. The Republican victory feels suited to the times. Here's the keys to the country, kids. Try not to smash it up too badly. Bring it back by 2016 when the Democrats will take it for a spin.
Then again, this is nothing new either.
"Politics is such a torment that I would advise everyone I love not to mix with it," Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1800. Advice worth taking.