A Two-Front War

While I am mostly agnostic on questions of guilt and inherent criminality with regards to the whole Russia/Trump fracas, at some level I do find myself rooting for the existing D.C. power brokers to ultimately succeed in toppling Trump and his regime of halfwit hooligans, but not because I specifically hate Trump nor his voters, something I do not think is true of most of the people on my Facebook feed.  The whole “but her emails” meme is stupid and pisses me off, but I hold my tongue because we are amid just the beginning stages of a much, much larger and longer transition; we need these people as allies right now because, as much as it may suck, the only institution with the power to topple not just Trump but the whole rotten edifice of the Party of Lincoln is the Democratic Party.  As much as we may lament the stranglehold the Clintonian/DLC/capitulation-brigade has on the machinery of the party, and I do mean stranglehold as the life slowly drains out of the enfeebled remains of FDR’s once mighty Democrats, as a certain SecDef once quipped : “you go to war with the army you have.”

Since the Republican Party didn’t see fit to uphold its unofficial civic charter to properly vet and filter their candidates for the highest office in the land, we now have to do their work propter hoc, which is much more difficult, and only the extant DNC has the tools and the political machinery in the two-party system we have.  Which sucks, but if Bernie taught us nothing, it is that no coalition of Jill Steins and Gary Johnsons will ever get over the innumerable artificial barriers our 100+ year-old parties have erected to entry at all levels of government for any upstarts who want to get their grimy mitts on the levers of power.  We are not a parliamentary democracy like the UK and until we can break the slave-owner’s continuing gift to our modern politics, the Electoral College and its reflection all the way down the ballot, we will not be able to remake the parties to better reflect our national composition.

So yeah, let us keep up the good fight, but be ever mindful that we should be ready to pivot, as the enemy of my enemy is my friend.  Not just the Clintonian wing of the Democratic Party, but the permanent Washington D.C. establishment that is a reflection of its surrender of idealism and ensuing acquiescence to realpolitik, as objectionable as she and they all are, they are the best conduit we have to undermining and ultimately atomizing the larger and more immediate threat to all life on planet earth: the American Republican Party.  The GOP is not, in and of itself, the thing to be destroyed in the sense that a neighbor’s loud, vicious dog is only a threat because its owner is a sociopathic asshole.  The owner is the problem, which doesn’t mean that the poor dog won’t ultimately pay the ultimate price for its owner’s crimes because if it attacks humans it should be put down, but the owner must still be held responsible.  The GOP must be destroyed, make no mistake, it must (changing metaphors here) be burned to the ground, to its very foundations, which also must be dug up and broken into dust, plowed into the dirt and the earth salted, with no marker nor headstone to commemorate its passing.  Future generations will weep and curse our names if we fail to do anything less.

I have no illusions about how quickly all of this might happen; I might just begin to see green shoots of hope as I drift off into dotage and begin to drool on my chin, but I think it can be done, but only of we remember that this is a two-front war and we are losing badly on both.  The good news about that is that this is also a long war, a multi-generational war, and the Dem’s old guard is dying off.  I won’t make the call and say that Hillary represented its last hurrah because too many of the very people who have continually steered the Democrats into the ditch still have power over piloting and navigation, but I will say that the ranks of their replacements (Berners, BLM, Occupy) grow every day while they harden into dead-enders. But her emails.

Who, what, where, when, how and why, you may ask.  Well, recall that what eventually became America began as both a religious and a commercial proposition. All that high-falutin’ language of European utopian thought in our founding documents came hundreds of years later and really amounts to a rich snob’s way of squaring the circle.  Never forget that most of our exalted Founding Fathers with their cries of Life and Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness still owned slaves.  I’m sure they prayed about it and some of them felt really bad about it all, but they mostly stayed rich and slave-owning and we still wound up in a shooting war over it less than 100 years later, so good intentions and the road to hell, right?

But the way I see it, we wound up in this country with a three way split in our nation’s moral underpinnings : religious, secular & wealthy.  The religious colonies of the north and the commercial colonies of the south retained their underlying character, even as cross-pollination made them more like each other every passing decade; indeed, much has been made over the years about the impact the puritan work ethic has had on American industriousness and prosperity.

And it is with some irony I observe, in the modern age, how the religious colonies of the north have grown ever more secular and the commercial colonies of the south have grown ever more religious, part of the lasting impact of industrialization and the north’s embrace of it, contrasted with the south’s rejection because, well, they didn’t need machines, they had slaves.  As is astutely observed in the lyrics of the hit Broadway musical “Hamilton,” the south had wealth because they enjoyed over two-hundred years of free labor while building their region’s economy.  After the Civil War, they didn’t even have their slaves anymore and the north had a half-century head start on modernity.  I’d argue that the Civil War just leveled the playing field between the north and the south, something the southern man still cannot accept.  It has made the south the continuing incubator of our modern day right-wing grievance politics.

Of these three lobes of our moral ambitions, each has a good (egalitarian) & bad (elitist) divide and that is where I think a better understanding of who we are, were and can be again someday may be found.  It is the elitist impulse across all three lobes that is ascendant, as is natural in times of strife and deprivation, but both halves are always there and, in very many significant ways, they have more in common with each other than they do with their positive inverse across the moral divide.  To my eye, it is all very simple: the religious impulse can either be elitist and drive the believer to the conviction that he has the sole ticket into heaven, or the impulse can be egalitarian and bring to follower to see all humanity as their kin and live their lives accordingly; the secular can either be elitist in the vein of the caricature of a latte-sipping, east coast Big City lib’ruhl of the fervid Fox News imagination (or the true-life “professional class” reality of the modern Democratic Party) or it can harken back to the days of the blue-collar labor organizers of the 1930’s or the social justice marchers of the 1960’s or the Women’s Suffrage movement of the last century… these groups overlap and shade in a full spectrum from one extreme to the other and their compositions within the electorate shift and move over time, they are interrelated, even within the same person or group.

And the third lobe of our moral ambition, which I generically deem “wealth”, has two halves as well.  The elitist half, the “I got mine” chorus, the billionaires and their enablers who are the not-so-secret power behind the Trumpian throne, they are the true destroyers of nations and worlds.  Their greed pulls down whole ecosystems and they sell it to the voting public under the rubric of “jobs.”  Their inverse is, or at least was, an older noblesse oblige found in Boston and Philly and parts of Upper East Side in NYC, a wealth that builds hospitals and funds museums and foundations and sees the purpose of their wealth as being connected to the health of the larger body politic.  They are still parasites, but they do frequently enlist in the military, or at least they did, and they often go into public service instead of just shuttering factories to pay for extended vacations on the French Riviera.  I think the older, quieter wealth that has the impulse to give back is dying in this country, or it has been largely co-opted by the larger societal drive to die with the most toys.  I don’t really mourn its passing, really, because they still lived (and continue to live now) a life of unearned leisure and ease, but once upon a time they at least felt bad about it.

Of course, my “egalitarian” side of this group is mostly for rhetorical symmetry, but they did once have a role to play.  The fact that, as a group, they’ve largely surrendered that role to join with the rapacious forces bleeding this country dry makes their eventual decimation a worthy goal.  But that is part of the long-term plan.  First, we must choose which front to engage in this war.  If we are to win, someday, it will of course be fleeting, but we are defined by the struggle and the alternative is despair.

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