Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Manic on Election Night; Set Adrift in the Red Sea.

Oh Lord another Election Night.
Election Night always reminds me of Hunter Thompson. I blame him for getting addicted to politics. Books and books of articles on Nixon and eventually Bush and Clinton and Baby Bush before the big brain blast to the head after we green lit 4 more years for W.
People like Thompson and George Carlin had been through the brutal years of the late 60's and early 70's and watched the hippies become yuppies and Reagan Democrats and realized the whole thing was a joke or at best a sport. It's hard not to wonder what ol' HST would have had to say about Katrina, or the financial meltdown, or Obama, or the Tea Party. There are some fine writers (Matt Taibbi in particular) doing great work but it's not the same. It's not through the same prism of weirdness that gave you a little wink into how ridiculous it all was. Even if the bastards won you felt like it was a fluke and that we all knew it and sooner or later sanity would be restored, eventually. But apparently eventually has come and gone.

It was a weird feeling the night Obama won two years ago.
It seems like a hundred years ago and people on both sides, in retrospect seemed to have made too much of it. Sure there was the historic relevance of a minority holding the most powerful office in the world, but Obama was held up to be such a super hero to the people who supported him that there was bound to be a letdown no matter how much he achieved. No matter who ran on the Blue ticket in '08 they were likely to end up in office if for no other reason than the great collective sigh of relief that the Bush reign of terror was over. I think where some of us were mistaken, or at least where I was mistaken, was that we were flipping the script over and that the dominoes of the last 30 years of Right Wing Christian businessmen looting the economy and spouting their morals had finally all fallen down.
But this is a monster that grows it's head back no matter how many times you cut it off and often that head is something more hideous than the one before it.
Nixon became Reagan became Bush Jr. became the Tea Party.

The results aren't in yet. The Republicans already have the House, and supposedly, (according to CNN.com so it could have just been one of their i-Reporters texting it in) the Democrats who have managed to win or retain have gone directly against Obama. The Senate is close 47-43 for the Dems last I checked. I don't really feel like checking again.

I'm getting a cold. I had a horrendous cold a decade ago and didn't make it to the polls but I managed to stay up until 3 or 4 a.m. wrapped in a quilt slugging from a sticky bottle of NyQuil when the news couldn't decide on a winner in the mess that was the 2000 election. I was so convinced that Gore would win, if for no other reason that it seemed so obvious Bush was caricature. Of course we didn't find out until weeks later that it was official George Bush was our President. I was at a Diner with Evan Toth, (the Empress I believe) when the court finally announced there would be no more recounts in Florida. I was a little dumbfounded waiting for some kind of 11th hour miracle that never came.

I was at Toth's house in 2004 for the election results; a complete set up of maps, multiple televisions and an ample supply of victory booze, but was again caught off guard when Bush repeated in stunning fashion. Deep down you knew the dirty tricks and fear-mongering were going to pay off, and they did, though W. as with most twice-elected Presidents had a rocky 2nd term and it almost seemed like John McCain was served up in 2008 because Republicans knew they had no shot at winning and why waste a viable candidate when they could offer up an old lion to take his turn in the spotlight and go down swinging against the fresh new face of the Democratic Party.

Most reasonable people would probably agree it's easier to tear things down than it is to build them back up, literally, metaphorically, whatever. Obama had a short honeymoon, but he went after a lot of what he wanted in his first two years. How he was supposed to fix the mess he was left with in such a short time while trying to build bridges with an opposition that questioned everything from his religion to his status as a citizen, while supported tepidly by his own party, some of whom though he wasn't Progressive enough, is beyond me. It's amazing he got anything done at all.

There are plenty of things Obama has done wrong, the worst of which is keeping the war in Afghanistan going but at least it felt like, for a little while, the boat was getting steered in a different direction, but now the Tea Party has mutated from the psychotic-fringe to legitimate players. How a movement comprised of "average Americans" in what's left of the middle class can consistently bark mantras and back candidates who support the interests of billionaires is fucking mind numbing. But this is their moment. Eventually the balance will snap back the other way and every time it does things get uglier and more contentious.

I can't help but thinking back to 2000; being immersed in the debacle of that election and listening to Kid A on a loop. That set the general tone of the early part of the 00's. Paranoia and uncertainty. No happy endings. The 00's eventually ended and here we are again staring at a fresh decade that looks like it's going to get driven until the wheels come off. Right is Center and they dress it up and call it the Left so they can pull it further Right.

Toth asked me "Who's even watching?" when I told him I was disgusted Rand Paul won. Two hours later he texted me to remember that "38% of the people voted for Carl Paladino". He can't help it, this stuff is addictive.