Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Down the Road A Piece

by Daddy X

Our day-to-day lives are filled with forks in the road. Choices we make from minute to minute, second to second. Trick is to learn to distinguish the minor forks—rather frontage roads, turnouts or loops that take us back to the main drag—from those forks that wander far afield to change our lives in metamorphic fashion. How nice it would be to see into the future, ‘down the road a piece’ so to speak.

Ideally, experience figures into the game of predicting the effects of causes. We should get better at the game as we evaluate how we’ve lived our earlier years and use that wisdom to set a course for the future. I’m going to try and equate the microcosm of tiny adjustments to our lives with a larger concept I’ve explored in previous posts. Bear with me, again, please.

Where this country embarked on a disastrous alternate path. 1980.

Conservative America saw the inevitable coming. It recognized that we were progressing quite well as a left/center country, after socialist policies put in place by FDR and succeeding administrations effectively built a strong and growing middle class. There was the GI bill. There were powerful unions that represented over a third of our workforce and gave employees a voice. Union standards raised working conditions for everyone. A truly progressive income tax was in effect, a vast and growing middle class (for many people, at least. I don’t discount the embedded racism of the times.) There was enough discretionary income so a family could afford not only a house and car, but also be able to put their kids through school. All on one income. Sounds like a perfect system, right?

Then some real progress was made on the racial elements. Why then, did we take that fork in 1980? Why the lurch to the right?

My theory:

Conservatives, then in such a minority, decided that if they wanted to continue to exist without getting with the times, they needed to assemble a coalition of one-issue voters, no matter how whacked the cause. Voters are voters, after all. In the democratic system, a stupid or gullible vote carries as much weight as an informed one. So they recruited the racists, the gun nuts, the anti-abortion fear mongers. They, in turn brought aboard the religious fanatic vote. Climate deniers, evolution deniers, flat-earthers and science deniers in general followed. Immigrant deniers and gay-haters found a home as well.

 Hatred for a black President caused the doubling-down we’ve seen over the last seven years, as elements of these so-called conservatives will absolutely not allow anything positive to get by on a black president’s watch. That’s not conservative. That’s radical. Simple throwback racism. Willing to jeopardize the progress and wellbeing of this country for eight years.

But recently the Republican tactic seems to be preying upon itself. Not surprising when you try and corral such a diverse group of zealots. In their desire to out-asshole each other, Republican candidates have nothing but their so-called conservative “qualifications” (obstruction) as a platform. Have you seen the Republican debates as opposed to the Dems? 

Self-implosion of the Republicans is the result of the extremes the right wing has courted. None of the right-wing hopefuls (rather prayerfuls) has a cogent policy plank, apart from lowering taxes for the rich. Add to that a snake pit of special interest issues, usually faith (read fairy tale) based. Now they’re eating their own.

(Yes, I’m hard on religion when the measure of a zealot’s religious belief is so closely tied to the danger he/she represents.)

Next year’s general election presents another fork in the road for American voters. It offers us another opportunity to end this foolishness. Hopefully, attrition has finally caught up with the right wing. And the youngsters who may be voting for the first time? Do they really think it’s important to kill gay marriage? Are they going to vote to defeat their own health care? Are they afraid of immigrants? Do they want an education?

If everyone actually voted, we could see a landslide.

Let’s not miss next year's opportunity to force the Republican Party to abandon their one-plank platform and instead include all of us. Maybe at last the chaos they’ve unleashed upon us (and themselves) will convince them. Take the obvious fork. Vote for common sense and past performance.

Remember the last Republican administration. Bush II. And the one before that, Bush I. And before that, Reagan. Remember before Reagan? When “Homeless” wasn’t a household word?  

Huh! We’re pre-1980 again.

And BTW- The one before that was Nixon. May as well forget Ford. Everybody else has.


  1. It's not just presidential politics. I'm seeing warnings about how how many state and local governments are firmly in the control of the far-right. I remember an article quite a few years ago about religious conservatives beginning to consolidate power in local school boards, etc., and moving along to higher offices, and now we see that their strategy has worked.

    There's another sort of fork that has become more pronounced, and that's regionalization. It's been there all along, the antipathy of "heartland" folks for the more populous areas along the coasts and the disdain of the urban coastal dwellers for "flyover country," but it
    s getting more intense. And the industry that used to thrive in the midwest and produced those powerful unions has now been pretty much outsourced to other countries where labor costs less.

    Fasten your seat belts. It's going to be rocky ride, and there's no telling where (or if) we'll land.

  2. Momma and I just filled out our local ballot and only felt comfortable with one candidate for city council, even though we could vote for up to three out of eight people running. That includes incumbents and wannabes. And we're just 30 miles from San Francisco, a liberal stronghold. We have our tea partiers too. They're really tenacious, even where they're not wanted. Seems to energize them.

  3. Hmm. No doubt about where you stand politically, is there? ;^)

    I think there's a lot of truth in this post. However, I also have come to feel that politics is cyclic, and maybe, self-correcting to some extent. (Look at what just happened in the Canadian election.) One reason we left the US in the early 2000's is that Bush Jr. had been re-elected, and we foresaw terrible things happening. Okay some terrible things HAVE happened, but on the other hand we've had a two-term Democratic president who happens to be black, gay marriage is now legal, some states have legalized marijuana, and we've re-established diplomatic relations with Cuba. The dance between conservatism and liberalism goes on... and indeed those terms change their meaning.

    I'm also sympathetic to the argument that politics (and the president) have less influence than people think. They ride social and technological trends, as much as make them.

    Still, I believe it's important to vote your convictions. If you can.

  4. One more thing...Do you really WANT to know which choices are major forks? And how they'll end up? I don't!

  5. This is actually Jean Roberta (for some reason, I can't log into Google as myself):

    Amen, Daddy-X!
    And yes, the Canadian election gave many of us Canadians some relief, even though it was bittersweet because we have more than 2 parties. The New Democratic Party (founded as the CCF -- Co-operative Commonwealth Federation -- in the Great Depression as a socialist party, it is still the farthest-left of the major parties, though it keeps moving toward the centre) was the Official Opposition since the "Orange Crush" (orange is the NDP colour) of 2011. Now the Conservatives have been kicked out of the gov't (thank Whoever is listening), but they got the second-largest number of votes, so they are the official Opposition, and the NDP is back on the sidelines along with the Green Party.
    We have some right-wing crazies here too, just not as many of them. :)

  6. AS busy as I am over-working, I do have one thing that I do as a volunteer. I've been a volunteer registrar for about 10 years...since the start of the Iraq war. I did a few candlelight vigils, but wanted to do something more to help effect a change. So I got qualified to register new voters. I've been registering mostly high school kids for years. But as I tell them, the voting age was 21 when I was in high school. It got dropped due to the fact that you could be drafted, sent to die, then returned to your mom in a body bag, and still not have been able to vole on WHO sent you over there.

    I have a button that I wear when I register voters. It says, "Vote or shut up." My bumper has a sticker that says, "Vote or quit whining." I try not to let the kids get me into political arguments, because I'm even to the left of Bernie Sanders! But I don't try to influence them, I only encourage them to learn about the issues before they vote. Then I sit back and hope for the best.


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