A Commenter asked about the immediately previous Post: what can be done?
Let me offer what I can using the image of the Titanic that I used in the Post itself. So take a quick look at that image towards the end of the immediately previous Post if you need to.
Right off the bat at this point there are now three huge and interlocked problems: 1) the ship has indeed hit the iceberg and grievously ripped herself open; 2) the command staff (the Beltway – pols, staffs, ‘advocates’, lobbyists, experts, the media pundits, and don’t rule out the White House) has indeed been degraded into a butt-covering nomenklatura; 3) the passengers – especially in 2nd and 3rd class – are indeed now drunk and have been for quite some time. (First-class are merely enjoying the champagne, in the sure and certain knowledge that they already have a lock on what lifeboats there are – and their pandering Beltway lap-dogs no doubt also figure that when worse comes to worst, they too will have a reserved seat for themselves, their loved ones, and their valuables.)
So what can be done?
I think that first (and last, and always) the passengers must sober up as quickly as they can. That is to say, The People must find within themselves individually and as a collectivity the strength to ACKNOWLEDGE THEIR CATASTROPHIC PREDICAMENT: before you even think about the frakkulent frakkery of the past 40 years in terms of Cultural Wars and the Revolutions of the Identities and all their pomps and all their works, you have to accept that the U.S. is at this point teetering at the abyss of Insolvency and there is no more real ‘money’ – it’s all rather notional and those who print it 24/7 and then talk as if it’s still 1960 around here are treacherously delusional.
Once the passengers do that – shaking off the stupor of decades’ worth of the cheap and fake ‘high’ that comes from cheap and fake money – then they must exercise what role the Founders’ Vision and the Constitution has bestowed upon them (and not on any actual ship’s passengers in human history): The People is the governor of its governors and must let those employed personnel know in no uncertain terms that a) they will be held to account for their behavior (past, present, and the immediate future) and b) they had best come up with some serious and effective solutions.
That won’t be easy. It’s hard enough for any individual to break an addiction habit (even where one has been unintentionally and criminally addicted by somebody else). So The People has to come up to speed with lots of strong black coffee without a moment’s delay.
And the Beltway is not simply ‘addicted’ to pandering: most of the entire sitting political class and the assorted remora-like ‘elites’ that surround them have committed by this time so many treacheries large and small* that they not only have to give up their swag-habit but also have to face the possibility of prosecution or at least public obloquy. And the public, newly alert to just how much has been frakked up, is going to be mighty worked up indeed.
If and when they can ‘sober up’ – and the National Situation is certainly a sobering prospect – then they can, as Andrew Bacevich puts it in his latest book, start to “ask first-order questions”. A “first-order” principle” is an utterly fundamental principle that underlies everything built on top of it and is indispensable to the integrity of everything built on top of it.
In this case, We The People – individually and as that vital collective – should conduct Our own careful and deliberate re-consideration of just what it is that America is all about, should be all about, and can be all about (and those are 3 separate categories).
What do We want the country to become while still retaining the vitally constitutive and defining characteristics of ‘America’?
What, then, ARE the vitally defining characteristics of America?
In what ways can such visions be achieved or are they not-achievable? (So, for example, no matter how hi-tech your ambulance, how fast can it be realistically be driven en route to a call without causing more trouble than existed in the first place?)
And more apropos to the present Situation: If We recall the plight of Camus’s lone Doctor in a city stricken by the plague, then just what can be done and for whom, given the very limited resources remaining?
Nor can We indulge the simple and childlike urge to simply ask Our national ‘parents’, the Beltway elites and pols or even the President.** That entire bunch has pretty much gotten Us into this mess over the course of 40 Biblical years, so the older ones are hugely compromised and the younger ones don’t really have the clout or the vision to be able to answer. And anyway, the Question is Ours to ask and to answer. ‘Leadership’ is one thing; but some whacky simulacrum of parental authority exercised by the Beltway or the White House is something else altogether.
And at this point, barring a Lincoln or a Washington or a Roosevelt (either one) – and none of them seem to be available and realistically within electoral reach – then I can’t see that anybody coming into the Presidency is going to be able to accomplish much in terms of cleaning out the Augean Stable and restoring some sober and mature presence to the process.
So s/he will need some firm guidance from The People. Which means We are going to have to get back into the deliberating-the-American-Experiment job, which in the past century has sort of faded away under the heat of intensifying national complexity and the hell-hot pressure of being at war and the incessant pressures of dedicated cadres advocating this and that ‘revolution’ (even if soft-pedaled as ‘reform’ or ‘change’ or ‘rights’).
None of this will be easy because for the past 40 Biblical years it has been PRECISELY the strategy of the assorted cadres, and their Beltway enablers, to PREVENT any public deliberation of “first-order principles”.
And THAT was because for all practical purposes so much of the many agendas embraced by the Beltway profoundly rejected the Founding Vision. Either their Content dismissed core American principles as traditionally embodied or their Method of Implementation required a complete side-stepping or overriding of a wide and well-informed democratic deliberation in order to reach a consensus. Or, not infrequently, both.
Robert Reich, in a recent ‘Nation’ article, lists some solutions (he was in Clinton’s Cabinet and saw a lot of stuff happening, and probably supported a bunch of it). One of his suggestions is that the U.S. government requires all US-chartered corporations to produce in America and employ Americans. Which you would think would have always been the policy, but the Beltway has made a bundle allowing Big Money to take itself overseas (not that the radical-feminists were unhappy to see the White, Macho, Industrial productivity base be Deconstructed while their new dampdream of a ‘Knowledge and Service’ society trickled in to replace that mighty engine.
In the meantime, leaving specific policy proposals for a moment, I would suggest urgently that the citizens have to come up to speed in the matter of personal maturity and thus civic and political competence. It had always been the hallmark of Liberalism that the Individual was presumed to be a mature adult (or aspiring mightily there-toward); and on the basis of that presumption government needed only to keep a clear playing-field and – like any good ref – stay out of the players’ way.
But the 20th century has seen the corrosion of the Mature and Competent Individual, not only as a reality but – in radical-feminist dogma – even as an Ideal toward which all should be aspiring.
Instead, citizens are now seen as ‘victims’ and ‘victimized Identities’, who must and should rely on the National Nanny State government for just about everything. Which is not a recipe for a Citizenry capable of functioning as The People.
And in THAT case, it would only be ‘the next logical step’ that if you don’t have The People, then you don’t need a Constitutional Republic in any sense envisioned by the Framers. And clearly the National Nanny State, when you consider it without the rose-colored glasses of radical-feminism and Identity Politics and Multiculturalism and Victimism, is not at all a Constitutional Republic. (Nor am I here making an ulterior plump for a National Security State, which is the same thing, but from the Right, and on the pretext of National Security and/or National Greatness.)
Rather, the country would become, as Titanic was, a hierarchically controlled collectivity with the command staff, the first-class wealthy and elite dwelling in luxury close by with their many servants housed conveniently close by, and in the increasingly darker depths of the vessel, scads of cattle-like passengers and the engine-room help laboring like trogolodytes.
The ship was not set up as a ‘democracy’ so what was not to like?
I would like to think that We wouldn’t like this arrangement at all – especially since it casts the vast majority of Us as nothing more than cattle in the scenic background of some old Western flik, docile and self-absorbed in munching whatever is around, ready to be stampeded on cue. Phooey.
*Consider LBJ: as early as 1965 he allowed a nuclear-processing company in Pennsylvania, run by a fellow with deep and long connection to Our Staunch Ally Sans Treaty (SAST) to ‘lose’ almost half a ton of nuclear material, and then the White House quashed the investigation into the disappearance. Thus, effectively, LBJ not only allowed a non-allied and foreign power to acquire nuclear material, but was indispensable in allowing nuclear weapons to be introduced into the Middle East (which is precisely what Our SAST did with the material). You can start informing yourself here and here, and the now declassified 1978 GAO Report is here.
And this was all two years before he called off Navy jets going to the rescue of a US Navy ship attacked by the SAST with the greatest loss of life in U.S. sailors since Imperial Japan had been doing its thing in the Pacific. Some ‘ally’. (You can inform yourself here and here.)
LBJ’s behavior – although perhaps motivated by a desperate need to raise up new reliable electoral blocs for Democrats who had just ( through the Civil Rights legislation) shattered the old New Deal Democratic electoral coalition (that included the Jim Crow South) – rose in the first instance at least to treachery, but surely in the second instance approached – and I do not use this term lightly or sensationalistically – treason.
So many treacheries and treasons - large and small - over the course of the past Biblical 40 years.
**Many may yet recall the 1992 presidential debate, when a gentleman with a pony-tail, a social worker whose métier was domestic mediation, addressed Bush the Elder, Clinton, and Ross Perot with this question: “And I ask the three of you, how can we, as symbolically the children of the future president, expect the three of you to meet our needs”.
I hope it isn’t too much of a leap to see how frakkulently out of sync this question is with the entire Constitutional schematic designed by the Framers. In their view the nation was a nation of adults – of varying abilities and levels of competence – but all adults trying to (or expected to be trying to) hold up their individual role with the society and as a member of The People. It was this collective of individual adults who would form the gravamen of the nation, the Ground of the government, the ballast and the ultimate repository of governing authority.
The social worker’s (Walthall, if memory serves) approach exemplifies precisely what happens when this or that occupational-identity overrides what I will call the “sovereign identity of The People”: I am a social worker and all Citizens (like all my clients) are children and troubled souls and the President is their Parent; I am a soldier and all Citizens (like all my troops) are soldiers and the President is their Commander-in-Chief.
And this pushes the country toward a National Nanny State, which, along with a National Security State, is hell-and-gone from what We and this country are all about.
Forget “symbolically” – this literary gambit has been the infection-pathway of a host of plague-strength mischief in the past 40 years. Let Us face the reality: We are The People, the government and the nation are in parlous shape because Our role has not been fulfilled recently, and We are desperately needed back on the job.