Making Up History
History, as we all know, is written by the victors. Implicit in this celebrated phrase, coined by Winston Churchill, is that there must be a loser — the one that history ignores.
In this election, a loser will be forgotten.
But it won’t be the manufactured war-hero or the “teleprompter virtuoso” who will fade into oblivion. It will be the American people.
Regardless of what happens today, the true significance of this election, (of this “historic” election), is the total surrender of this country to the forces which have for decades tried to co-opt its institutions and civic consciousness, and in the last eight years succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.
The complete breakdown of accountability in the Bush administration after the ‘inciting’ incident nine months after his inaugural ceremony, not to mention the levels of absurdity reached within the unfolding of the incident itself, would have been enough to unleash a massive uprising a generation ago, but 50 years of network television, focused Hollywood productions and the more recent addition of cable fed ‘reality’ and infotainment has served them well.
At the risk of finding a ‘race card’ in my deck, I’d like to share a personal anecdote about a comment that a co-worker once made to me many years ago, while sitting in her car at a drive-thru bank teller window.
I had mentioned something about Leonard Peltier, the Native American activist who is serving two consecutive life terms in prison. Naturally, the conversation drifted into the general condition of Native Americans in this country and at some point she retorted, in all seriousness: “it serves them (Native Americans) right for not having Jesus Christ as their lord and savior.” Needless to say, I was taken aback by such a remark, compounded by the fact that she was black and shared a last name with a rather well-known, slave-owning, first president of the United States.
I was vexed.
Eventually, it became clear to me that ‘salvation’ is as much about forgiveness as it is about condemnation. It all depends on who’s doing the ‘saving’, I guess.
I bring this up only because of the choices that have been placed before us in the political circus of 2008, as a kind of prelude to the necessary questions that will emerge as a result of how things stand only a few hours before the election results are known. But before dealing with the obvious, it’s important to remember how long ago this “election year” actually began and the issues surrounding those first moments of political posturing.
In the beginning of the Japanese illustrated novel, Lone Wolf & Cub, in a scene reminiscent of a psychotherapeutic exercise, a new born child is placed in front of two objects by his samurai father: a ball and a sword. Whichever object the baby crawled to would determine his destiny.
America’s current state of regression can be compared to that of a small child or infant. From the very early stages of the Bush presidency, the population has suffered shock after collective shock. The motion picture-like violence of that fateful day in September, followed by outright lies, misrepresentations, corruption, and wars with no relation to domestic, or for that matter, foreign policy concerns, to the most recent debacle of the economy has left the American population reeling and in search of refuge.
The candidates started coming out of the woodwork earlier than they had ever done before and in numbers equally unheard of. There was Giuliani, Clinton, Huckabee, Romney, Richardson, Biden, McCain, Obama, Dodd, Gravel, Kucinich, Vilsak, Brownback, Hunter, Tancredo, Thompson, and Paul… Paul, the great diffuser, and his side kick Kucinich. Their roles were to embody the very real dissention that was engulfing the nation after so much spiritual and material graft; essentially to co-opt it and avoid it spilling over into more serious anti-establishment activity.
The candidates’ outings began as early as 2006, halfway through Bush’s second term, reflecting the reality of a president who had no voice left with his electorate. The blatant war of occupation had taken its toll with the American public which now required a chorus of establishment figures to direct the discourse. The first issue on the table, expressed in the mid-term elections, was the war in Iraq. After the democrats took control of the house and thereafter did nothing the issue was still hot, yet cool enough after the ‘ballot venting’ to allow prospective presidential candidates to start lobbing their own soft balls.
Nearly two years later, the issue of the war has pretty much been talked out and after the disaster-capitalist meltdown and bailout fraud, no one much remembers where they stand on the issues as they scurry about trying to keep their jobs and homes. To top it all off, the candidates who eventually emerged from the political fray as the official presidential candidates represent something far deeper than most Americans care to admit.
The issue of racism is always latent in a country of immigrants, but the white/black issue transcends race in that it cuts right through to the very definition of who made America what it is today and who is a true blooded American. Did George Washington make America or did the slaves who tended his mansion make it? Is a Founding Father more American than the slave who worked the cotton fields? These are issues of America’s infancy and they remain unresolved today. The social repercussions are still evident despite the civil rights movement and other apparent evidence of social progress.
The fact that a black man is this close to reaching the presidency at precisely this point in the nation’s history is not a good sign.
The country is divided and psychologically wounded. Like the child in the Japanese graphic novel, the country is being presented with a false choice, for if the child does not choose the sword, as he most certainly does, the novel’s plot cannot develop as the author intends.