History will notice — even if we are too chickenshit to face it now — that the extraordinary turpitudes of US politics today represent an unprecedented failure of American manhood. It’s everywhere and pervasive along the spectrum of party politics, as untruth is everywhere and pervasive in American life.
The Republican case is too painfully obvious – Congressman Todd Akin being only the latest buffoon from the vast red state flyover cultural wilderness of franchise food and franchise thought to expose himself as lacking the basic male decency to defend womanhood against the consequences of plain-and-simple rape. In Dixieland Republicanism – now a misty region-of-mind that extends way beyond the old Confederate borders – you have the perfect confluence of sheer stupidity with the put-on, fake religiosity of men too weak to take responsibility for their own actions. They can just pawn everything off on Jesus: the good, the bad, the mystifying, the shameful. All the Republican men have to do is show up at the Nascar oval in time for barbecue.
As for the courage of convictions, watch VP-designate Paul Ryan haul his mum out before a crowd of Florida retirees to prove his allegiance to Medicare and Social Security – two programs he would like to dismantle – on top of the fact that his mum is exactly the sort of multi-millionaire who a sane society would means-test out of receiving old-age support from the less fortunate taxpayers.
The Democratic party case is more interesting to me, being a life-long registered Democrat, perhaps partly accounted for by my Manhattan Jewish upbringing. I was coming-of-age and paying attention when Lyndon B. Johnson chose manfully to sacrifice the future votes of all Dixieland – his home territory – by signing legislation aimed at resolving the unfinished business of the Civil War. Even the fiasco of Vietnam that followed the Civil Rights years was acknowledged by many Democrats then in power as a tragic error. They had the courage of men conscious in crisis.
A perverse residue of those Civil Rights years lingers on today in the campaign for gay marriage, which affects to be identical in substance, and which is now, ironically, the only vector of action in Democratic politics inviting male valor – while it is also a huge distraction from many far more pressing tribulations we face, from resource scarcity to the well-being of the only planetary ecosystem we call home. I say, ironically, because gay marriage represents an existential endeavour that seeks to escape or nullify the fundamental tensions of the two-sexed human race. Like all things fashion-oriented, its essence is novelty, and the essence of novelty is that its charms wear off.
Sooner or later, the charm of being not quite a man and not quite a woman will seem less than compelling to those not directly preoccupied by it. I bring it up because the Democrats have (foolishly) made it the public’s business to the exclusion of other things. So, for Democrats, the last remaining imaginable act of male valor in the arena of politics is to come out of the closet. Where else is valor found in Democratic politics? What amount of valor has been attached to the act of fighting to reestablish the rule of law in American finance, upon which the fate of the nation truly hangs?
None. Zero. Last week Mr. Obama’s Department of Justice dropped its case against Goldman Sachs’s CDO swindling operations – a case that was served up on a silver platter by the report from Senator Carl Levin’s Senate subcommittee hearings. Not one lawyer in the entire DOJ took a public stand against that act of gross negligence. It’s only the latest in a long string of failures-of-nerve in the desperately needed rescue of legitimacy in American affairs. Every agency head, every person in authority in Mr. Obama’s government has evaded the single-most pressing issue of our time. From the centre of power to the margins of power and everywhere in between, real masculine courage is absent.
Where was valor in the face of the Citizens United Supreme Court decision, when some Democrat in the two other branches of government could have proposed a legislative remedy, even a constitutional amendment, to clarify the distinction between the standing of citizens and corporations in wielding money as political speech? Who in Obamaland has asked Jamie Dimon to account for JP Morgan’s missing $6 billion? And, of course, Jon Corzine is still at large.
In fact, all the male energies in American political economy have been directed lately in the service of a one multifarious enterprise: the support of fraud, which includes the promotion of untruth, the protection of the wicked, and the evasion of reality. That can only end badly as this vast cargo of lies passes through the event horizon of circumstance and sucks us into the unknown territory that lies beyond the fall of empire. You can be certain of this: genuine male energy will re-emerge from the shadows and that energy will re-engage the still unresolved tensions abroad in this land. When they do, anything can happen. For now, the election of 2012 remains a mere pussy riot.
The storm churning through the Gulf of Mexico may remind us just how large and uncontrollable the forces of nature are as the curtain rises on the political season of a grievously misled nation.____________________________________
James Howard Kunstler’s newest nonfiction book, TOO MUCH MAGIC, will be available in stores in July 2012. The book will be available at booksellers, large and small, online and off. To find out how you can help support local bookstores with your purchase, CLICK HERE. Other books:
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