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Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Election 2008: Will The Center Hold?

"This morning, as for some days past, it seems exceedingly probable that
this Administration will not be re-elected. Then it will be my duty to
so co-operate with the President elect, as to save the Union between
the election and the inauguration; as he will have secured his election
on such ground that he cannot possibly save it afterwards."

----Abraham Lincoln, prior to the election of 1864.

The above quote is apt at present, for while there is not a raging Civil War as in Mr. Lincoln's time, we are a house divided.

Even worse, we are not two sections of one nation at war, but rather hundreds, if not thousands, of factions fighting for the absolute in a world gone immeasurably gray. On the one hand, the Left finally gained some say-so at the 1968 Democratic Convention. This was the blossoming of political correctness; the era of identity politics whereby one's skin color, religion, or sexual orientation DID matter more than one's citizenship.

Coincidentally, Richard Nixon used his "Southern Strategy" that year. It was a veiled appeal to the racism being fanned by federal court orders and forced school busing. Over the years such things have not, to say the least, appealed to the better angels of our nature.

No, the lowest common denominator is the highest form of "discourse." For discourse it is not. It is McCarthyite warfare with no prisoners taken. It is a constant barrage of sound bites and perfumed insults. It has begged the question in my mind as to what the end result of all this is going to be? Other than scalping all my enemies, what am I voting towards? Not for, but towards. There is a future in there somewhere; a goal that is better than our present and also better than ourselves.

To secure that future, two questions must be addressed: Are we going to continue on the path towards a land where a few live splendidly while the vast majority accept squalor, albeit with TV and sports? The other is: will the future executive recognize the Constitution as something worth following, no matter how inconvenient to any particular agenda?

Using the past and present as a guide, I can't say I'm too optimistic about either of those questions. The reference to our country being polarized is highly inaccurate. We have become more like the U.S. of the 1850's. Those in favor of eliminating slavery and those opposing said elimination, found plenty of fire to toss at each other. There were other issues involved in our Civil War, but too-simply put, a lot of blood was spilled in order to resolve what kind of nation it was going to be.

However, even that period falls short of the present when it comes to invective. What is happening now is beyond insults. It is a divide and conquer mentality that not only questions opposing viewpoints (which is fair enough), but the patriotism, the American-ness of those who are not with the program. I have listened to "talk radio" in my area, which is 100% "conservative," when in fact it's not. It's reactionary. There is nothing accomplished for the nation to use the airwaves to claim one needs a bath by being around Democrats. Or that Democrats (who somehow are all part of a liberal monolith) are simply not "real" Americans.

What is most disheartening is that John McCain has co-oped (or been co-opted by) the Rovian Right of politics. With a minimum of thought one should see that there is a huge gap between successful campaigning and successful government. Senator McCain cannot win this election through the technique of destruction and then come along post-election and talk about "uniting" the nation. We've all been there, done that, and bought the T-shirts this decade.

At the moment, there is still enough of the America others in the past have built to salvage. One more term; one more exercise in bringing the campaign drones into government is going to ensure a wasteland.

And Senator McCain, whatever honorable motives he has, will not be of any use in the wasteland he is helping to create.

Duke of Madness

Posted Originally at Duke of Madness

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