Friday, April 2, 2021

The V Bottom of American Politics

It's what we hoped for.

Who had ever seen anything like the sixties? I hadn't. The days of WW II gave way to the button-down 50's, The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit, fears of conformity, The Lonely Crowd. McCarthy and the Dulles brothers, while Rebel Without a Cause and Brando lurked. Then came Kennedy, new air, new blood, sophistication, and Civil Rights boiled over, Martin and Malcolm. LBJ and the Great Society biggest social revolution since the 30's, a really big deal, southerner brings in civil rights and power to the cities, amazing. And the young people, the sexual revolution started, women started, Berkeley, Columbia, the Greening of America, Port Huron and Free Speech, Chicago.

Then, politically, it was kind of over. Nixon actually did some good things aside from the crimes against humanity, EPA, would have had good health policy if Kennedy hadn't turned it down, geopolitics with China, finally getting out of Vietnam. But he was awkward and paranoid and crazy and brought in all the odious boys. Only Martha Mitchell was right. Watergate was great in the 70's, the Church committee, the mid 70's are underrated. Best movies ever. And then it was really, really over when affable toxic Reagan came on in. What a crew. Iran-Contra was just the worst of the lawlessness. It was neoliberalism, government is the problem, starve the government until you can drown it in a bathtub, let the market and the marketeers rule, and let the rich get very very rich and who cares, really, about the poor and the working people. Although underground, civil rights progressed, women progressed, basketball got free and beautiful. But that was underground; politics was conservative, private money outstripped public money by far. The Iraq War, Bush and Cheney and Wolfowitz's War, started the final spiral downward, draining money, military outstripping diplomacy, affable ignorance at the head. The Obama presidency was great symbolically and for health and other things, but it was just a pause before the final deluge.

Which was the deluge of the foolish and the corrupt and the dangerous traitors in the short, evil presidency of Crazy Donald Trump. It was a caricature of a presidency down with comic characters, the genius son-in-law who had had his way bought into Harvard, if you weren't corrupt you didn't belong, the halfcocked failed economists, each day a day in the life of the crazy, stupid and deluded. The whirlpool down the toilet. The final grab at power with that prune of a turtle in the Senate and the calls to state officials and the calls to little comic militias worthy of Ruritania. Not with a bang or a whimper but the sound of the flushing toilet, just like that.

But it didn't happen, it didn't keep going. What had been brewing in the underground, in the resistance, all the new hued faces and worthy lawyers and righteous health care workers and young people in the streets whites marching for rights of blacks, it all came back. That most centrist of centrists, that worthy Vice-President who did the ultimate, a white man who was the loyal lieutenant of a Black president, who walked the walk, whose key to life was how he had suffered, just as FDR had been felled but not defeated just tempered by polio, he stumbled then rose then triumphed and made every step stronger and firmer. He brought in the pros he had worked with all his life. He brought in identities of substance, even a Native American, he reached for people who are real strong smart brave people from the underground and the resistance and rocketed upward, took hold of the national spirit, organized in favor of people rather than in favor of the virus, passed $1.9 trillion as though it was another continuing resolution it went so fast, talked about projects with new money the way I felt when I was 9 and found a $10 bill whirling around in the dust and it was mine and I could spend it anyway I wanted, didn't have to tell anyone, I just picked it up and marched into the drug store at 48th and Spruce and said, give me that bubble gum with baseball cards and the older man at the register said, are you sure?, and it was my money and I said yes, that's what I want, and he gave it to me because it was my money.

It's our money. It's our country. Get your slave-holding mentality, get your money boys with their deals, get the fancy pants pretenders out of town and by the way, some of them are going to jail. Get them out of here. We're done with them. Get used to the way this cabinet looks. Look at that Secretary of Transportation who is gay – how you like them cards, you guys? Cash in your chips and get out of here. I know you'll be back, and you won't go easily, but the new sheriff isn't screwing around.

Who'd a fucking thunk it?

Budd Shenkin

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