Politics today takes advantage of the fact that many of us in America apparently have what I would call deformed imaginations, in that they are not tied to the real world or real people in any meaningful way. In a sense, what is happening is that a bunch of bad writers are writing an ugly reality for this country, using the worst attributes of our imaginations to do so. A high capacity for belief, a high capacity for imagining, is not at issue. But the ability to dream well, to see beyond rhetoric and deception into the real world, where facts exist with cold, sharp edges...this ability has been dulled in some of us, for whatever reason. And as a result, the ability to reach toward some kind of truth has also been dulled.
I wonder what Johnny Cash would have to say about this. That flag's looking more ragged every second.
Stop patting yourself on the back. You lined up and voted for candidates who declared "Marriage is between a man and a woman!" and are surprised that states banned gay marriage? You claimed that the same set of institutions that spent 13 years starving out and bombing Iraqis under Presidents of both major parties could somehow, magically and despite the explicit statements of your man, repair Iraq because you wished it so, and now you are surprised that people have unrealistic views of the geopolitical situation? The difference between "No gay marriage!" and "No gay marriage, but..." and "Let's kick ass and take names in the Middle East!" and "Let's kick ass and take names in the Middle East, but..." is hardly so profound as to declare yourselves an Embattled Minority Of The Clear-Sighted. Embattled? Not any more than yesterday. Minority? The numbers seem fairly clear at the moment. Clear-sighted? *koff*
I find it interesting that both my Republican and Democrat friends have the attitude that the success of their opponents meant the end of the world. I wonder if means that both R. and D. feel that the only time they really have some influence on where America goes is once every four years. My feeling is that we all live in a sort of democracy here, and that if this feeling is pervasive throughout everyone -that- is something to worry about more than who is currently in charge. We're not living under a dictatorship, there are things that can continue to be done all throughout the years to come if you are truly dissatisfied. It's not as dramatic or sexy as a single day of voting and a dramatic result, but it's the long hard slog of making sure you're represented and involved. I'd hate to see all this political energy die out for three years, eh?
Greg van Eekhout:
It's nice to talk about neighbors setting aside their differences, finding common ground, working together towards a common goal. But I suspect we're really not that much alike, you and I. We're neighbors only in geography. We speak the same language, shop at the same stores, enjoy many of the same entertainments. But you hear "yellow cake uranium" and don't think scandal. I hear "yellow cake uranium" and wonder how we can reward lies with four more years.
The Republicans have been watching a Mel Gibson production of the Book of Revelation, in which George Bush single-handedly defends the gate at Helm’s Deep against ravening hordes of rabid gay Muslim clones, and then leads a fleet of helicopter gunships in battle against The Beast.
The Democrats, on the other hand, have been watching a strange amalgam of Dr. Strangelove and The Day After Tomorrow, in which George Bush doesn’t just ignore global warming, he actively encourages it (by exploding nuclear weapons in the Alaskan National Wildlife Reserve) in the hope of hastening Armageddon and the Second Coming. Meanwhile we all wait patiently for the Lost Prince to come and save us all (non-violently of course).
Well, writing as someone living outside the United States, it feels very much like we non-Americans are at your nation's mercy. Your nation overwhelms us with cultural exports, influences our domestic politics, dominates our economies, and invades us when, and as, it sees fit.
Realistically, the only protection we have is a sane American electorate, a body of voters who will eventually turn back the political tide. Sure, it is possible to talk about historical precedents for the rest of the world eventually rising up and overthrowing nations that act the way the United States is currently acting, but that is unlikely, violent and too long term. The best solution is for American citizens who want a better life for themselves, their children, and for the rest of the world to appreciate that they can still make a difference, they can still organise and vote. We cannot not, and we need you to do it.
Books--fiction more specifically--seem trivial in comparison to politics and political awareness only if you've really invested most of your intellectual resources in the notion that political movements and ideas finally determine the degree to which serious engagement with ideas can be made at all, that everything else curious and creative people might find worthwhile must be subordinated to "political critique" or else it's just so much fluff. (That we invest a great deal of our emotional resources in particular political campaigns or outcomes certainly can't be avoided, nor the subsequent disappointment when our hopes are dashed.) It may be true that in large quarters of Bushworld books don't count for much, but it seems to me that we give in to the very attitude toward books and reading we deplore when we also declare in the wake of political disillusionment that we don't care much about them, either. If the outlook and assumptions that led to these most recent election results are really to be understood and confronted, it will only be, in my opinion, through the books--fiction and nonfiction--and the commentary about them that will appear over the course of the next four years.