2008 & 1964

From Mark Grief at Dissent:

Nineteen sixty-four represents a date when identity was still racial and integrationist—before the violent turns of the late 1960s and the 1972 McGovern vision of an “ethnic” and pluralistic Democratic Party, which has seemed to many a source of its weakness at different points in the decades since. Nineteen sixty-four means the 1960s without Vietnam and division. It means a politics still oriented toward progress (judged economically), toward the coming Great Society, and not toward liberation (something Obama has been willing to soft-pedal with his strategic dismissal of full gay marriage). And 1964, to confront the weirdest but most visceral dimension of this fantasy, would have been the year of Kennedy’s re-election, had he not been killed; as if Obama were really Kennedy returned, but racially colored in by the civil rights movement JFK did not do quite enough to advance, and as if Michelle were Jacqueline, and the two little daughters were John-John and Caroline, moving into the White House.  “We have,” this story seems to suggest, “another chance.”

We really don’t. There are all sorts of analogies to history floating around at the present moment.  One that I will confess attracts me is the 1932 analogy, in which a massive economic collapse is the only thing that allows the U.S. government to break through disastrous laissez-faire and create essential forms of social insurance for which generations of Americans will be grateful, ever after—indeed, which they won’t be able to imagine life without. But these analogies make the task of this moment look easier than it is. There is an obligation, with a Democrat in the White House and Democratic majorities in the Congress, to figure out what we on the left should want, right now.  An underlying imagination of 1964 or 1932 would suggest that we want the past back—without acknowledging the fundamental shifts made by modern conservatism in American thought, and without acknowledging that liberation is still the rogue element whose value and consequences the left can’t quite get straight.

It’s all right here

Her Blog

I really love and admire Anglachel’s Journal and recommend it to everyone.  Here’s part of her post on the experience of Riverbend who, until a year ago, blogged at Baghdad Burning:

For me, everything that Movement Conservatism has done wrong can be read in Riverbend’s blog. Her careful chronicle of how the normalcy of everyday life melted away is the story of the corrosive effect Bush and his backers have had on the world directly for eight years and in varying levels of intensity since Reagan.

Anyone who praises Reagan and the movement he led is praising what has happened to Riverbend, her family, her friends, her country. There is no wall between the domestic and foreign policy of these people. The collapse of Wall Street and the burning of Baghdad are of a piece, joined by a Darwinian world view that there are hunters and prey, the strong and the weak, the winners who are deserving and the losers who deserve nothing. The prisons of California, an industry the Republicans proudly comapre to Pat Brown’s university system, are the siblings of Abu Ghraib. The drowning of New Orleans is the mirror of Baghdad in flames. Devastation to the innocent by-standers who could not flee in time, a gold mine for the contractors who arrived like vultures to strip the carcasses to the bone.

Read more about Riverbend and the rest of this post here

The comments on this post, wherein Anglachel challenges men to take responsibility for rape are worth a read as well, but be prepared for ignorance and agression from most of the males.

Palin & Obama as Symbols of Change

Roxie mentioned this article by George Lakoff in her post, which I’ve excerpted below.  I’m going to give you a bit of it:

But the Palin nomination changes the game. The initial response has been to try to keep the focus on external realities, the “issues,” and differences on the issues. But the Palin nomination is not basically about external realities and what Democrats call “issues,” but about the symbolic mechanisms of the political mind — the worldviews, frames, metaphors, cultural narratives, and stereotypes. The Republicans can’t win on realities. Her job is to speak the language of conservatism, activate the conservative view of the world, and use the advantages that conservatives have in dominating political discourse.

I’m not sure that it’s the choice of Palin that’s changed the game.  I think Barack Obama himself changed the game.  This time last year, I’m pretty sure that most people would have agreed that Hillary Clinton was the heir apparent to the US Presidency and, for months into the nomination campaign, until the Iowa primary.  As an outsider, it was difficult to determine what policies differentiated the two candidates at the top.

After Iowa, where Obama proved he could carry the votes of white folks, the campaign shifted to a campaign of appearances and personality and the question became, who can best represent a message of hope and change?  Hillary Clinton wasn’t running on a platform that delibarately accencuated her gender and the way the election of a woman would represent something revolutionary.  Obama’s race quickly came to stand in for change itself and his inexperience in Washington was proof of his credibility as much as a deficit.  Little attention was paid to policy issues which, as between Obama and Clinton, were very similar, with Clinton coming out on the more “liberal” side, at least when it came to universal health care.  It really wasn’t until her concession speech that Clinton called attention to the symbolic meaning of her run for presidential office.

My thought at the moment is that if the majority of Americans can get “change” with the Republicans, they’re likely to go for it.  If Sarah Palin and even John McCain can capture people with that “maverick” meme, it may make for a comfortable result.  Since the American Revolution and a brief outburst that by no means involved the entire nation in the ’60s, Americans haven’t exactly impressed me with their “revolutionary” politics.  Particularly since 9/11, Americans seem much more interested in the safety and security of their own lives, families and country than in political issues and that security has been more a matter of “appearance” than reality.  So I’d say that the race between Obama and Clinton wasn’t about “external realities” either.

Barack Obama is a symbol in this representational election.  Now it will depend on whether he is a more compelling – and reassuring – symbol than Sarah Palin.  Listening to the news today, it seems like Palin is running against Obama rather than Biden.  That can only be good news for the Reprobates.


Jeffrey Toobin:

Successful politicians know how to attract attention, and how to avoid it, so it’s worth noting that John McCain chose to give his speech about the future of the judiciary on May 6th, a day when the political world was preoccupied with the Democratic primaries in Indiana and North Carolina. It is significant, too, that Senator McCain spoke mainly in generalities, rather than about such specific issues as abortion, affirmative action, and the death penalty. But even if he hoped to sneak the speech past a distracted public, and have its coded references deciphered only by the activists who were its primary target, its message should not be lost on anyone. McCain plans to continue, and perhaps even accelerate, George W. Bush’s conservative counter-revolution at the Supreme Court.

more detail at The New Yorker