Thursday, November 16, 2006

Mid-term elections, 2006

Perhaps it is too many years in the ivory tower of academia, perhaps all the reading about ballet history and notable Russian personages has led me to adopt Russian fatalism, perhaps I am becoming more spiritually detached from the ways of the world (ha!), but whatever it is, I cannot get myself worked up about the most recent Congressional elections (and I once thought the failure to convict Bill Clinton, a misogynist power predator, was a sign of the Second Coming).

I’ve written before, elsewhere, that I suspect the current political impasse between the two parties is related to a sixties’ mentality that most politicians who grew up in that era cannot leave behind. The sense of ideological warfare, the vilification of opponents, and even the re-hashed and re-heated arguments, both Democrat and Republican, come from that era.

So I read this blog post with interest. In brief, the author at History Post proposes that the “silent majority,” the mainstream, has rejected extremes and is trying to steer a middle course through the pulls of both the political parties and media; he sees this as the “beginning of a demand for sanity,” I see it as a walling-up away from bad news.

What I find especially interesting is the implication that the power players: politicians, academics, and media operators in this case, are the elite pursuing goals that are undesired or rejected by the majority. And why are they rejected? I fear that it is because the ideas they propose are too far away from the status quo, encroaching on the ideals the average American holds dear. In other words, the mainstream fears too much change too quickly, and want to feel some measure of control over the course of the country.

Those are positive qualities, but at what cost? Have Americans become inspired, by the intrusion of relativism into their store clerks’ greetings during the holiday season, to take action AGAINST relativism in its myriad forms? Are Americans actually inspired to be politically involved, to confront postmodern influence? Is it enough for the mainstream to merely be the guardrail for an elite driven by other ideologies? Are Americans really trying to get a “sense of identity and unity back” by voting in a bare majority of Democrats in the Senate and giving them control of the House? Remember, the Democrats have not been coy about the fact that they actually have no plan for Iraq, or it seems much else that holds the public’s interest.

I’m not attempting to be cynical – I think the embrace of cynicism is one of the greatest moral failings of our age – but I wonder when we will recapture a sense of our identity as Westerners, and not just capitalists (for it is fear of loss of jobs and expense of housing and health care of illegal immigrants that drives opposition to it, not merely fear of their non-assimilation) in it for the bottom line. Unfortunately, we are hampered in the former goal by an educational system that discourages pursuit of knowledge, inspiration, and creativity, besides the moral lapses of our fallen world. We NEED passionate engagement in the direction of our country by people with novel ideas and a sense of history, not people driven by self-interest. In that role, we cannot discount the power of a single person, a single leader to change the tide. Here’s to the rise of many such people in the West, with loftier aims for change than the power shifts between our current political parties.

3 comments:

HC said...

Yes, we need passionate engagement by people with novel ideas. Unfortunately, those people, the ones who think creatively, logically and morally are busy creating fulfilling lives for their families and have no interest in sinking into the sewer of politics.
And I think citizens are sick to death of the partisanship and are pushing for some sanity. I am upset about the elections but cannot get too worked up myself. The cloak of political correctness has strangled independent thought. Only when PCness is thrown out the window will change occur.

hc said...

Another comment. I agree the 60's mentallity is creating much of the problems between parties. The fools of that decade are now many of the politicians in power.

AG said...

Unfortunately, those people, the ones who think creatively, logically and morally are busy creating fulfilling lives for their families and have no interest in sinking into the sewer of politics.
Certainly, not everyone who can do those three things has time-consuming family obligations, but for those who do, the scale at which change can be enacted may be more modest.

Your second point brings up something else: our political system self-selects for a certain personality that already has or desires a certain lifestyle - it's built to maintain the status quo. Is it time for a different political system? Are Americans interested in that?

The cloak of political correctness has strangled independent thought. Only when PCness is thrown out the window will change occur.
If I could propose that it isn't PC that has strangled independent thought (it has strangled some of its expression, for better and for worse), but the sensationalism attached to partisan attacks and that the media propagates. When EVERY minor event is so overblown and re-played for us day after day for ratings or political gain, the proper scale of the event, its significance in orientation to other events, becomes so completely off kilter that independent thought is stifled sheerly through inability to analyze in context, with facts, the events as they happen. That creates its own frustration.