09 August 2009

A slow boat to nowhere.

Yeats has a line in "The Second Coming": "The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity." It fairly well sums up the Democrats and Republicans in our era, with the Dems having absolutely no spine to pass meaningful legislation, and the Republicans chomping at the bit for a chance to ride herd over international and domestic law.

President Obama is a great example of the failure of the middle-ground. Back when there used to be liberals, you could count on actual legislation having a bite to it. However, we haven't had a critical mass of liberals in power for at least thirty years, and the few who remain (Wellstone is gone; Kennedy is going...don't even consider Pelosi or Reid liberals...if you do, you have no idea what the word means) can be counted on a single hand with a few leftover digits.

Did George Bush II give a rat's ass about his detractors' whining about the Constitution and individual rights and international treaties? Hell, no. His administration had a goal, and no amount of facts were going to stand in the way of attaining that goal. Fake some evidence, lie to other governments, start a war, torture a few (thousand) prisoners...bold steps in pursuit of your goals.

Obama campaigned on promises of shutting down Bush's illegal, embarrassing, and ultimately counterproductive enterprises, but once in power he seems to have lost his resolve. Critics -- both the nutty Right and the well-paid comfortable lap dogs of the corporate Democrats -- like to argue that he's had to confront the "reality" of the situation. Bullshit. The reality of the situation is that as long as we operate in opposition to our Constitution and its principles, we are not the United States of America...we're some banana republic proving that words on paper are worth nothing more than the pastel patterns on your toilet paper.

When confronted by millions of people clogging New York City's streets on a cold day in February 2003 in protest of the Bush Administration's lurch toward an evil, illegal, and worthless war in Iraq, did BushCo pause to hem and haw and massage the message? Hell, no. They plowed forward with the most implausible, irrational, and ignoble course of action they could think of. Now Obama finds that the pundits of the Right are (predictably) comparing the U.S. to Moscow circa 1917, and pasty-faced radio personalities are (again predictably) trying to cast his every move as either 1) America hating, 2) white hating, or 3) freedom hating, and so he's worried about them and getting caught up in the details of trying to win over a faction of the U.S. population that wouldn't believe he was born in the USA even if they could go back in time and be present in the maternity ward at the birth.

Let the losers go. It's painful to say it, but there are some Americans who don't take to heart the values embodied in the Constitution. They're the reason it took nearly 100 years (after the founding of the nation...longer if you count the colonial era) to eliminate slavery, and why it took 100 more to do away with legal discrimination, and why it took until 1920 for women to get the right to vote, why several states maintained laws on the books against interracial marriage, why many social clubs restricted membership, etc. etc. etc. They simply don't care about the Constitution (except the part about guns), and no amount of appeals to that document will change it. No amount of appeals to evidence will change their opinion.

They'll just have to get used to it, because history won't stop for them and the era of minorities and women not voting and not holding elected positions are over, at least in this country. The US government getting involved in health care is nowhere near as revolutionary as the US government busting up the trusts 100 years ago. It's nowhere near as revolutionary as the government deciding that industries should be regulated to ensure the safety of the nation's citizens.

Have some guts and do it. But go the full monty, don't settle for some compromised second draft.

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