Saturday, September 20, 2008

Waking from the Nightmare

Two nights ago I had a dream, and it went like this: it was election night, 2008 and Pennsylvania and New Jersey went Red. John McCain became the President of the United States. How could such a thing happen? I asked myself this, and my dream-voice said something about how unemployed folks in these states had moved elsewhere looking for work, so could not turn out to vote. As is typical for a dream voice, what it said makes absolutely no sense now, looking back, but at the time it was incontrovertible.

It doesn't take a Freudian analysis to clue you in that I have been not only thinking too much about politics lately, but also that I have been worrying we might lose. The loss I have been dreading is not a reasonable loss -- the loss of a candidate who is fairly beaten on issues of great difficulty and complexity. Rather, I have been dreading the lossa on a cheat, a loss caused by a technicality. While there was a time when I could imagine how an intelligent and informed individual could have voted for McCain, that day passed when someone sat him down behind a closed door in some luxuriously appointed summer home in Maine and said, "John, we can make you President. But you're going to have to get with the program."

Now, the only way I can imagine the GOP winning is through the manipulation of one of their many cheat-levers: voter suppresion through house foreclosure lists, the fear of terrorist attacks prompted by endless viewing of 9/11 footage, illegal refusal to obey subpoenas in corruption probes in the full knowledge that nothing will be done till after November ... and by then it will be too late. Once the Republican machine is vindicated with another for years in power, they can take their hands off the wheel and let 95% of America grow poorer and less secure, saving their efforts for the white-tie crowd, their base.

The news since the Democratic Convention has not been good. Palin, who as far as I can tell is nothing but a tinpot dictator who wraps her santimonious smugness in the name of Jesus, dominated the country. But then something marvellous happened: right after Palin embarassed herself with Charlie Gibson (Gibson! Who woulda thunk it?) we got the combination punch delivered by Saturday Night Live. Yeah! I know! Saturday Night Live! Christ, has anyone watched that show since Mike Myers left? So far, the two sound bites I will most remember are, "people have always been more impressed by the power of our example than by the example of our power," and, "I can see Russia from my house!"

But then something else happened. Then our financial system started to melt down like styrofoam in a microwave. Now, I don't claim to be an expert on this particular topic. But there are some things I have been able to figure our about it: firstly, the long run of house foreclosure was a major factor in the collapse. Second, our government is spending about a trillion dollars to socialize our banking and insurance industry. Third, none of the people who are responsible for this disaster, in any of their myriad financial institutions and government offices, will suffer any punishment of any kind. Fourthly, the rest of us are still screwed. Finally, we are gonna win.

John McCain is a resourceful guy, but there is no way that he can get out from under the hammer of an unpopular President from his own party, while the economy is tanking. There's not a whole lot else that matters. Obama's eloquent and inspiring speeches, SNL's judgement day rise from the dead, mooseburgers, 9/11, and POWs are all ultimately irrelevant. This is Bush vs. Clinton with the roles reversed and the dial turned up to 11. The national nightmare is over, it's just too bad we had to crash Wall Street and stick the American taxpayers with a trillion dollar bill to get there. And now Obama has the hard job: he won't be able to just pat us on the head and comfort us with a soothing, "There there. It was all just a dream."

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