So here's what's so frustrating.
You all know we're coming up to the midterm elections.
And you also probably know that the overarching theme for this year is the Great GOP Resurgence.And that the newest standard bearers for the elephants are the "Tea Party" candidates, from Sharron Angle in Nevada to Chris O'Donnell in Delaware (and that's just the women) the news outlets are relentlessly flogging the notion that in a week we will be introduced to the "new generation" of Republicans; just as intransigent on fighting brown furriners (whether of the Scary Islamic Variety or the Operating The Leaf Blower For Your Landscaper Illegal Beaner Variety) and handing out tax breaks to the two-yacht family, this crew is even more enthusiastic for stuff even the former conservative nutjobs considered whacko; deregulating everything in sight, eliminating entire federal agencies - the ones they don't like, of course, mostly the ones that help brown furriners and immigrants an' stuff like agreeing with Global Warming (never Good, Nice agencies like Defense and the NSA, of course).Now, mind you, I have to say that most of this stuff sounds like the same crap we were being spoonfed back in the Gingrich Days (back when the ol' serial philanderer and moral savant was still considered a Power Broker) and were told then, as now, that it was a rich, chocolaty nutrient that would make us grow up bigger and stronger.
It didn't happen then, unless you were in the land of the stratospherically wealthy, and you'll excuse me if I don't believe it's going to happen now, either.
But let's give the devils their due, OK?
Let's assume that November 6th the nation wakes up with a new conservative majority in the Congress. Let's further assume that the rest of the government, and the nation as a whole, is so intimidated by the Tea Crackery Goodness of their new conservative masters that the incoming camorra manages to enact their entire agenda. Every bit of it. Every scrap, smidget, iota, jot, and tittle.Then what?
Gone are the Departments of Interior, Education, Health and Human Services, the Public Health Service, National Public Radio, and the freaking Job Corps for all I know. The wealthy are unbound - the estate tax is gone, the entire nation pays a flat tax of, say, 10%. The poor and the old...well, they're on their own. You can choose to house your aged grannie in your basement or let the old harridan forage for food in the bins behind the Safeway with the rest of the old feebs.Your library? Privatized. Your heat, power, water; you pay their "market" price for them or you get cold and dirty. Your internet? Hey, haven’t you heard – the Internet is for porn, Jack. So you sign up for Saucy Suzie’s Dirty DSL most quick smart or it's no more "Ranger Against War" for you. Get sick? Better be employed, Giocomo. You lost you job because you got sick?
Too fucking bad. Shouldn't have gotten sick, should you?
Oh, and the deficit?
Oh, yeah, that.
Well, you see, the problem is that there's one bit of government that's doin' just dandy. And that's the outfit across the Potomac over at the Five-Sided Funny Farm. Yep, there's terrarists about, bucko, lurking perhaps under your very bed, and we needs to hunt them. So there's guns for the Army, ships for the Navy, it's a regular American Patrol. Great big satellites for the spy agencies, teeny little torture cells for the interrogators...all those things cost money, you see.And since we've cut our revenue intake with all those tax cuts, see...well, you can just imagine.
So here we are; in the Dream Time of the Tea Baggers. No federal control of stuff like education, so we can go back to the good old days...ummm...well, when...okay, let's move along. How about that interstate commerce, eh? With no Department of Commerce and no DOT, it's cool, the freeways - what's let of them now that most of the bridges have collapsed - are cool, like that scene from Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome where Ike Turner's ol' lady chases Mel Gibson around the desert and shit blows up an' stuff? And everything is like the Home Shopping Channel, where you can sell your Pillow Pets and buy gold and everything absolutely without any worry about annoying things like child safety or fraud investigations...
I mean, do these daft fuckers ever really THINK this stuff through? Do they ever think about, for all the irritating aspects of the Nanny State like the "Caution; Do Not Eat!" warning labels on the little white packet inside the beef jerky bag and the tipping toddler on the 5-gallon buckets, how much of modern life is actually simplified, assisted, and detoxified by the sorts of things that the government does that they don't want to pay for?
Or the simple reality that the three biggest lumps of the spending they profess to hate are Defense, Social Security, and Medicare, and that they won't give up the first and the other two are, in a lot of cases, what has helped keep the U.S. from becoming a social basket case like fucking Zaire - they help keep your mom and dad out from under bridges and from living out of shopping carts, and if they are suddenly, drastically cut the flood of poor old people into the streets and fields will make the Depression look like a rural frolic in an old Swedish movie?
Do they think about this stuff? Do they really have a plan, other than a trip back to the U.S. of 1890? Or are they just saying the stuff they say because they know it appeals and have never had to govern and really make the hard choices?
This is frustrating, too, because the "grown-up" version of these nutballs spent eight years handing the U.S. to their crony capitalist buddies, raping and fucking over every piece of it not owned by somebody named Koch or Abramoff, and getting the nation involved in land wars in fucking Asia, forchrissakes. And those were the SMART ones, not the ones whose vita lists their greatest accomplishments as "not being a witch" and getting paid for handing out Rand Paul fliers.I understand people's frustration. We handed the keys to a bunch of drunken frat boys and they pretty much slammed the national car all over the road for two terms. So we handed them back to the "reasonable" ones, the ones who said they were going to "Change" all that crap. And, mostly, it didn't change. And so now we're pissed off.
But so now our answer is to find the goofiest, most looney versions of the fucking gomers who kept bashing our national head into the concrete like a eight-year-long episode of "Jackass" and give the wheel to THEM?
What. The. Fuck?Are we really that stupid?
Driftglass - whose sandals I am not fit to unloosen - says yes we are, and, what's more, said it all six fucking years ago.
THAT's the real frustration. It's not like this is a black swan. IT's not like we don't know that these people are "...people (who) never vote for good government; they don't even believe in government. They're spoiled little toddlers who freak out when they're expected to share. They don't think they have to pay for anything that they take. And they're right--they don't."
I'm not one of those who think that this is some sort of unforseen, unprecedented horror. The American electorate has been full of ambition, distraction, uglification, and derision many times before this, and surely will be again.But most of us have been comfortable, fat, and careless for so long. The extraction operation that the New Deal and the social liberalism ran on the robber barons and the oligarchs that revelled in the Dickensian poverty of the nation for generations until they ran the ol' S.S. StarsnStripes on the financial rocks in 1929 has lulled us into thinking that we can never go back to the Gilded Age of Victorian slums and plutocratic rule again.But I will argue that the New Deal was a one-off, an unusual concatenation of massive elitist failure, autocratic liberalism (my pal Andy would tell you that FDR was a sort of kinder, gentler despot; I'd argue kinder, hell - the man was a fucking political piranha who used the idiocy and greed of his enemies [who were his social peers] to gut them and stuff them into a political hole for a generation) and transformative policy that was so effective in grinding the old American paradigm down to stone-hard bedrock that we have now forgotten what it was like for most Americans in 1928. That most of us lived at or near poverty and always had, that a short, filthy, brutal, hard working life was the lot of most people, and that nearly a quarter of all Americans were poor; really poor, dirt poor, hardscrabble poor all of their lives. People ate bad food, lived in hovels or slums that would embarass Sierra Leone today, worked in intolerably dangerous and backbreaking ways and died, usually early, of disease, malnutrition, or injury.And the big difference between 1928 and today is that a lot of those poor Americans back in the day were rural poor. They had farms and knew how to farm. Even when times were bad they had some hope of growing or raising something to eat.
Today we farm our crops at the SuperFresh or the Piggly Wiggly. When we lose our jobs, or get sick, or hurt, and there is nothing there to help but the meager donations of some church ladies and a scattering of soup kitchens and county shelters? We're gonna starve, and quick.
But none of this seems to matter to the Tea Baggers. They want their Gilded Age back, and nothing, not even their own lives and the lives of their fellows, will get in their way.