Monday, February 11, 2013

Hope



From a while back, by one of my favorite drollish political writers, Charles Pierce:


.... He doesn't need to do this any longer. He doesn't have to accept as axiomatic that there are no options except austerity and being called a socialist by the likes of Sarah Palin. He won a campaign by ignoring those kinds of cheap dichotomies and the forces that drive them. 
It's not simply that he is in a unique position now to be president of the whole country. (He already started using this by taking to the road to sell his economic proposals shortly before Christmas.) The politics that elected him are the politics of the people outside the Beltway, the ones who waited in line for five hours in places like Cleveland and Fort Lauderdale in order to endorse with their votes the ideas on which he was running. He no longer has to abide by the rules of Beltway politesse or by the parameters set down by an increasingly irrelevant courtier press. It is partly all of those things, but it is something more as well, something more fundamental and sweeping. 
It is more that he has a chance to establish what we can call — in the way that fresh approaches always get labeled — a New Realism for the country and its politics, a demand that the empirical take precedence over the theoretical, that a distrust of experience and of expertise is no longer allowed to prevail in the councils of the government, and that the country itself has to accept all this, rather than retreating again into the comfortable fantasies promoted by its favorite TV and radio stars. The self-contained conservative universe began self-destructing by degrees when he was first elected. The process accelerated last November, when all the imagined horrors of that paranoid universe came true and the country — duped by Nate Silver, or sodden with government goodies, or cheated by the hidden hand of the defunct ACORN — reelected the Kenyan Muslim Islamist Socialist Communist Usurper to another term. 
By being reelected, he has made an opening. He has made a clearing. He has the ability now to marginalize that which was marginalized for so long, and ought to be again, while at the same time broadening the national dialogue to include ideas that once were quite mainstream — gun control, the necessity of a social safety net, labor rights — but that were shoved to the margins by thirty years of crackpot economics and the existential night sweats of a country grown too timid to uphold those things that made it worthwhile in the first place. That is the challenge of his second term. It is, to borrow a useful verb from a president currently packing them in at your local octoplex, to disenthrall the country, including all of us, and including himself most of all, from the nonsense of the quiet past that is inadequate to the stormy reality. We can think anew. He can act anew. And, by God, he might have a chance to save the country.

In some ways, it seems President Obama feels the same way. He has two reasons for taking a stand: for one, he's right. For another, the teabaggRs are simply unable to refrain from looking stupid and reactionary. They claim they need new messaging, but for the same old message. I'm feeling nearly persuaded that if they continue to be who they've chosen to be, at some point they'll self-destruct; and not because Barack Obama deliberately "annihilated" them, as John Boehner claims is his intent. It'll be because they've done it to themselves. All that our president needs to do is point it out.

Seeing teabaggers continue to elect their particular brand of lunatics, I know we're not there yet, though. But sometime. Possibly even in my lifetime. Maybe even before it's too late.

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