September 2008 Archives

September 28, 2008

Welcome to the End of America

Welcome to the end of America. I've been thinking about this a lot recently, and it looks like others may be ahead of me in realization.

When I was tiny, I asked my grandpa if he was a Democrat. He chuckled; said no. I had heard my parents say they were Democrat, and somehow I already had the notion that all black Americans were. I crinkled my nose in that way kids do when they must finish their vegetables, and he grinned and said something I'll never forget: "Wait till you get your first paycheck, and you'll be Republican too."

I was fourteen. Minimum wage was about three dollars. My check and record were hand-written and some magic math had eaten into my part-time payment. I thought about ol' Pop Pop. I was ready to listen.

In academy, our government teacher did an excellent job. Every morning Mr. Williams would wake up, record the 6am news bit on Good Morning America, and bring it in to class for us to watch and take notes on. He quizzed us weekly, carving out a capacity for current events while he imparted his wisdom on the beauty of the American politics. It was he who made me Republican, a believer of the republic, a society in which every individual could defend their inalienable rights and seek out their own method of success in the world. It made sense,therefore, that Republicans were the initial campaigners for the civil rights of blacks (and that southern Democrats were the greatest obstacle in achievement). In a democracy, majority rules; the people's voice is what determines the law. And since minorities were not people, whose voices were not heard, the law was as it was. It made perfect sense. It was incorrect, but it was commonsensical.

Today, things don't make sense:

If Mr. Williams is still around, bless his heart, I wonder he'd be willing to explain this again. For, as I remember it, the success of our nation was built upon the cooperative union of the democracy and the republic. That our government had checks and balances that would prevent any Bush (or, perish the thought, Palin) from wrecking up the place if they were a regrettable choice--or the lesser of two evils. That our nation had an American Dream.

Over forty years ago, James Baldwin penned my answer:
This has everything to do, of course, with the nature of that dream and with the fact that we, Americans, of whatever color, do not dare examine it and are far from having made it a reality. There are too many things we do not wish to know about ourselves. People are not, for example, terribly anxious to be equal (equal, after all, to what and to whom?) but the love the idea of being superior. And this human truth has an especially grinding force here, where identity is almost impossible to achieve and people are perpetually attempting to find their feet on the shifting sands of status. [...] We are controlled here by our confusion, far more than we know, and the American dream has therefore become something much more resembling a nightmare, on the private, domestic, and international levels. Privately, we cannot stand our lives and dare not examine them; domestically, we take no responsibility for (and no pride in) what goes on in our country; and, internationally, for many millions of people, we are an unmitigated disaster.

What we need is not an administration change... ok what we need besides an administration change is a change in public awareness and involvement. People who recognize cunning yet respond with reason; transparency coupled with actual firsthand observation. It is evident that my principles are not popular opinion. Which gets me thinking: what really do I have here to salvage? Perhaps I am destined to a fatalistic awareness like the old Imperial scholars, watching my world spun round. Or maybe I am feeling a bit like an oppressed protestant, longing for a present-day chance to escape to "new world."

Whatever the scenario, I am disenchanted with my options for election 2008, and find neither a really capable candidate for accomplishing the type of rebuilding I'm interested in. It will take a generation of correct choices to even entertain the idea that the today's political polarization can be overcome to the benefit our our country. If anyone would like to buy my vote, perhaps this year is the election year I feel American enough to be bought...

September 7, 2008


DSCN0090, originally uploaded by Leftsider.