This was so pertinent that I had to make it a post in itself. My man Pluto commented down the thread of the preceding post regarding what this election year says about the dysfunction of the American political process:"Over time the natural distrust between groups that are allied by distrust builds to the point where they fear each other more than they fear the opponent and they stop cooperating and nothing gets done."
Pluto has just won the "Revolting Gracchi" Award for Figuring Out Why I Always Bring Up The Fall Of Republican Rome when I talk about the U.S., circa 2008. Because it was JUST this problem that choked the life out of the old Res Publica. The proles were disenfranchised and didn't care and the very people who SHOULD have been circling around the republican institutions like slavering guard dogs, the senatorial and equestrian classes, were divided and paralyzed by internal division and partisan rancor. The state was decaying, or at least that's how it seemed to many of the Roman citizens, and finally they were just sick of the mindless, meaningless Senatorial chatter. They wanted a Man on Horseback and, boy howdy, did they fucking get him.Now, I don't think we'll see that. Our fundamental distrust of each other, and the disarray of our society is such that not even a military hero would be capable of uniting the nation behind him. At least, not now. Mind you, let the current economic doldrums slide into true Depression, and kick in something like a 1970's "Oil Crisis"...well, maybe you've got something there...
Nope. I predict that each successive Administration will grow progressively less capable of addressing the fundamental contradictions within the system, each will become less effective, more fractious and more strident. Our end won't come with a Caesarian bang but with a Castilian whimper.
We'll slowly fall behind polities like China and the EU and Russia that have spent the early and will spend the middle 21st Century fighting, not fabulous wars with inflated Islamic boogeymen, but rural poverty, infrastructure shortcomings and economic improvements. Finally we'll look around and see ourselves the 2050 equivalent of the impoverished, clapped-out Aragonese peasants, exhausted by wars, bankrupted and screwed by our own rentier classes, benighted by religious ignorance and beset by a host of troubles spawned by a decaying national hardscape and a fraying social fabric.But at least we'll have 245 channels on digital cable!
Of course, 216 of them will be either Ultimate Fighting, infomercials for male enhancement, cooking shows or pay-per-view porn.