A Straight Shot of Politics

A blog from a gentleman of the Liberal political persuasion dedicated to right reason, clear thinking, cogent argument, and the public good.

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Location: Columbus, Ohio, United States

I have returned from darkness and quiet. I used to style myself as "Joe Claus", Santa Claus’ younger brother because that is what I still look like. I wrote my heart out about liberal politics until June of 2006, when all that could be said had been said. I wrote until I could write no more and I wrote what I best liked to read when I was young and hopeful: the short familiar essays in Engish and American periodicals of 50 to 100 years ago. The archetype of them were those of G.K. Chesterton, written in newspapers and gathered into numerous small books. I am ready to write them again. I am ready to write about life as seen by the impoverished, by the mentally ill, by the thirty years and more of American Buddhist converts, and by the sharp eyed people [so few now in number] with the watcher's disease, the people who watch and watch and watch. I am all of these.

Friday, December 30, 2005

No Crystal Ball

In surfing around I noticed the Anchoress and Alexandra have posted 2006 predictions. A long while back, I mentioned that my own attempts to analyze trends, by letting the images of the present morph into the future in my mind's eye, led to nothing but a bright, white wall around the year 2007, through which my mind's eye could see nothing. Things before my mind's eye are a little less indefinite now, but not much.

Upon reflection, it seems to me that this phenomenon [which I had never encountered before] has a great deal to do with losing the wish for anything in particular to happen. We are all characters in each other's autobiographies, each one of us has an individual narrative about the events we all share, and this narrative is what shapes our expectations for the future.

To put my own narrative shortly: all the possible choices now lead to bad ends, so wishing for anything to happen is pointless.

Wishing for anything to happen is pointless.

Is this really so? I honestly don't know. But it is how I feel. My narrative is built up by me, but not in the sense that I might write a novel. I create the half of it which is the slow articulation of my deepest values, which then has to be fitted to the facts of the world.

The problem is that these are never integral, like a key and its lock. And the gaps between our values and the facts are what are filled by our wishes, by a desire for certainty and closure in our beliefs about the world which would make the contact of our values with the facts so continuous that what we believe and what things are would be identical and the key would finally turn in the lock.

In my narrative, the opposite seems to have happened. My values have become ever more disassociated from the facts. The world is out there, just as it is. In fact, it is more vivid to me than ever. But what I still want [which is surprisingly little] simply has nothing to do with it.

The things that I actually think good in the world have been systematically obliterated or confiscated by someone else. I lost another one with the NSA spying scandal. I lost a Presidency which was responsible to law, which is the essential difference between government and arbitrary authoritarian rule.

I lost it not because the law was broken. I lost it because the President brazenly asserted that he would continue the lawbreaking as long as he was President. And I lost it because there is a very good chance that all Presidents from this day forth will pick and choose among our laws as they like, without any serious opposition whatever.

The number of people who believe that George W. Bush is guided by the light of God to fight Islam and can do no wrong [or who are willing to pretend so for other advantageous reasons] will simply make it impossible to bring this brazen, self-proclaimed American Emperor to book. There are no good alternatives after that.

I still have sufficient anger in me to conceive of the best poetic justice to salve my feelings: a successful Presidential campaign by Hillary Clinton, whose hard and brittle ambition would then be granted the power that George W. Bush has abrogated, and who would very likely use it lavishly and to her immense personal and partisan advantage. I am under no illusion that power hungriness, without principle, is solely confined to the Republican Party. I would merely point out that the sovereignty of the rule of law is meant to act as a curb on such power hungriness, even when we happen to elect it to office, which we inevitably will now and then.

The actions of George W. Bush, and his cheerleaders, have made that very poetically just possibility far more likely to become a reality than the cheerleaders themselves have the wit to comprehend.

But there is no way at all that I can convince myself that an Empress Hillary would be any real improvement on an Emperor George. So why wish for it? The Anchoress is my friend and, incidentally, one of the best conservative writers on the Net, and I know that this alternative for the future would be something close to her worst nightmare.

I am clearly disillusioned. But I see no good reason why anyone else should be, merely to satisfy the leftovers of my private anger.

I have endeavored to make my values clear on this blog rather frequently, so I will not examine them again in great detail, but I will assert that they now have no real point of contact with the facts. In my narrative each of these have become completely separate worlds, and to harbor any serious wish that they reconnect, or any belief that they can do so, would simply be delusional. Thus the only sensible project for me, personally, is sinking directly into and working with my very anger about this fact.

I already do this regularly, of course. It is an integral and important part of being actively Buddhist. And, if I may give a hint to one of the secrets, it is why your own anger is so very valuable at the same time, and to the same degree, as it is so very deplorable.

So I no longer have a crystal ball. But it's always fun to listen to those that do. And when you listen, it is of great profit to ask yourself, "What narrative is really behind these choices?"