Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Texas and Ohio vote against rocking the boat too much

Well, last night was a big night for the Clinton campaign. Hillary won 3 of 4 state primaries, including the two big ones (Texas and Ohio) that hubby had said she must win in order to continue.

I'm disappointed, certainly. Last night's results evoke pale ghosts of the despair and emotional trauma I experienced in November 2004. Hillary's victory is a disturbing reminder that the American electorate is swayed by superficiality and placation.

In my mind, a vote for Hillary is a vote to maintain the status quo, with a few minor changes here and there. As an example, for all her talk about the need to renegotiate NAFTA, it is, after all, a treaty that was largely negotiated and shepherded through Congress by her husband. The people behind Hillary are the old guard triangulators that co-opted the corporatist policies of the Republican party. That is, they are the same people that indirectly brought us George W. Bush through their lack of ideals.

All that aside, the real reason I am dreading the thought of a Clinton versus McCain general election is this: regardless of which of those two were to win, the President-elect would be politically unable to take the strong, necessary steps that will be needed to address the coming economic and environmental crises that we will soon be compelled to face.

Jim Kunstler writes an excellent blog, Clusterf**k Nation, in which he soberly assesses the lack of sustainability of the modern American life, wherein Americans gobble up a daily regimen of gasoline, water, electricity and other finite resources with no mind to the future. In his latest analysis of the current political campaign, Campaign Blues, he speculates that the next president, whoever it may be, will face issues that are not currently even in the public debate:
Whoever wins on November 5 will wake up to preside over a different America than the schematic one he was debating about during the primaries and the election. The long campaign will beat a path straight into the long emergency. The new president will inherit a wrecked banking system, an economy in freefall, a wobbling world oil market, and an American public extremely ticked off by its startling, sudden impoverishment. (This is apart from whatever melodramas spool out on the geopolitical scene.) -- Jim Kunstler
Read the article. Kunstler does not paint a pretty picture. But it has the ring of truth to it (apart, that is, from his premature epitaph for Hillary's presidential ambitions).

Texas and Ohio are both bell-weathers of a sort. An argument can be made that the voting patterns in those states reflect the sentiments of the larger American public. When Texans and Ohioans vote for Hillary or for McCain, they are, in effect, saying "Let's keep things going the way they are. Life if good, for the most part."

But the coming crises will not allow that to happen. Quoting again from Mr. Kunstler:
The president-elect will quickly realize that the number one problem is not that Americans can't afford health care -- it's that they can't afford anything, because their income is evaporating in terms of both lost jobs and a dollar that is racing toward worthlessness. They'll be hard put to pay for food and gasoline, never mind Grandma's emphysema treatments. They will be walking away from home ownership -- or yanked kicking and screaming by default-and-repo -- and any government scheme devised to abridge their mortgage contracts will only undermine basic contract law that has made mortgage lending a credible thing in the first place. And that too, of course, would redound straight to a real estate sector already in price free-fall, with no one willing or able to think about buying a house. -- Jim Kunstler
If we dare to look ahead (and I won't deny that it is a frightening proposition), we will need the dedication and efforts of the entire country, and we'll need a leader who can unite us behind him (or her). We will need a leader that can call on us to sacrifice for the common good, that can bring about the radical changes that will be needed if we are to survive the coming storm.

We are in desperate need of the national unity that Junior promised in 2000, gained (by default, due to 911) in 2001, and then poisoned and squandered in 2002-2004. Both McCain and Clinton, as integral parts of the Bush era, are saddled with years of political baggage and partisan enmity. It seems doubtful that either could expand their appeal beyond partisan elements to include all Americans.

Barack Obama offers the best chance we have at attaining any kind of national unity. And, brothers and sisters, we're gonna need it.

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