Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Turn It Off

This morning, friends, even I, a self-confessed news junkie, reached for the off button on the remote to tune out the morning news. The reason? The report that "white women in droves" are turning to the McCain camp as a result of the Palin vice-presidential selection. Oh, and Ellie, my neighbor in bed, reads from the Tuesday morning New York Times that the Obama camp is now having difficulty raising funds, while cash pours into the Republican coffers. And Obama, in an interview, continues to maintain that "Americans aren't stupid." I hope he's right.

Me, I'm not so sure any more. But then I couldn't believe it when Nixon was elected, and then re-elected. I thought we were headed for the toilet when a worshipful country went for Ronald Reagan. The 2000 relection and, God help us, the 2004 RE-election of George W. Bush put the cap on the insanity. And all the while, despite the rhetoric, the mantras, the repeated lies, the economy runs irreversibly downhill, the debts mount up on every side, the financial well-being of the American middle class is increasingly at risk, our reputation in the world is shattered while we stand by and tolerate the killing of tens of thousands of innocent civilians and the imprisonment and torture of still more, and the very Constitution that defines us is shredded with impunity before our compliant eyes.

Are we willing, now, to throw away the opportunity to change our course? To elect a man who in so many ways represents a workable future for our country and the world we share? Are we so insecure, so shallow, so easily hoodwinked that we prefer instead a "maverick" who preaches the conservative gospel that has led us so very badly astray, these past three decades; and his fellow "maverick" who continues shamelessly to trot out her demonstrable but apparently self-serving lies before an adoring and uncritical public?

An old friend was saying just a few days ago that he believes, essentially, that this worldwide economic and social system we have constructed has us by the throat. He sees no hope for any significant change, no matter who gets elected, and puts his faith instead in the ability of human beings to regroup in small, workable, mutually supportive communities (he calls them "sacred lifeboats") to survive the inevitable collapse of what we call our civilization. I told him that I was not yet ready to go so far as to give up on the possibility to change course. It looks like this election could possibly support his view--in which case, I'll jump ship with him. But my friend is ready with the lifeboat he has been working with quiet prescience to construct. It may well be time for the rest of us to get to work...


thailandchani said...

I'm afraid I agree with your friend to a large degree. I've been watching this go on since.. as you said.. Nixon.. and it seems to be what the culture wants. It's been so successful at brainwashing people that they *believe* this is the best course.

When it all comes tumbling down, all people will have is each other in small groups - but that doesn't mean there isn't a lot of brainwashing to get over - even to get to that point.


John Torcello said...

We've seen overwhelming numbers of excited, enthusiastic citizens; angry in their own selfish situations; turning out for the primaries and for this election, in a great populist fashion; and seemingly subscribing to Obama's call for 'Change' through their $5, $10, $30 donations.

For me, I think, this is not enough for Obama to win this election. Or, better said, it is not enough to defeat the 'more of the same' platform as represented by McCain/Palin.

Clearly, there are a large number of Americans who subscribe to a set of values that some of us see as narrow and intolerant; glossed over the surface with a thick frosting of Orwell's doublethink and doublespeak.

I have come to understand that those of us, who, in our hearts, can accept them as they are; actually enjoy them as individuals - a part of the colorful overall mix 'we' call America; but, we also realize they have terrible difficulty thinking this way too; and it seems to me, cannot reach outside their world in acceptance of things they define as 'different' from themselves.

America was founded in conflict. This conflict has never really subsided. It is a political system, if you probe beneath the surface, that is based on a concept of dualism; rich/poor, white/black, red/blue, conservative/liberal, socialist/capitalist, winner/loser...and on and on...

As students and practioners of Buddhism, we work to come to terms with the notion of dualism...how it 'exists' (in samsara) and yet is a pure 'construction' of our minds and thought.

As Peter said, maybe "it's time for us to get to work"...all the time holding and knowing the feelings we each get from our perception of winning and losing are a 'fickle' thing indeed.

Still, in this existence of our own experience of time and place; here in the USA, as Americans, we each do still have a 'vote'. Equally dispensed to each of us and counting the same as the next guy or girl. Use it...don't squander it...for whatever 'side' you see fit...!

Hopefully, I have the hope that you'll come to understand, for yourself, that by exercising your personal 'one' vote for the candidate or platform that truly holds at least some promise for the alleviation of the 'suffering' of others; you are thus engaged in a positive way for the benefit of others...and, isn't that what it's all about anyway...?

Anonymous said...

Peter, when I heard Senator Obama say that "Americans aren't stupid", I said "oh yes they are". I am so afraid that people who do not think very far into the future are going to decide the future for my children and grandchildren.

My only hope is that some huge revelation will come out about Palin that will force her to withdraw from this election. Every day I watch and wait for this (probably unlikely) event.

Thank you for blogging politics again. I enjoy reading your blog!


thailandchani said...

John Torcello's comments are awesome!


Paul said...

Hi Peter. I don't have much to add to the discussion, but I offer this link to Deepak Chopra's blog, where he talks about Palin being Obama's shadow side, "exhorting people to obey their worst impulses."


Handsome B. Wonderful said...

I've never been so invested in an election as this one. And I too worry about the intelligence and reasoning skills of many of my fellow Americans.

Wake up America and stop voting for the same old ideas. It's no wonder we are in a rut when we've had one conservative president after another. Their ideas are stale and weren't that good in the first place.

If we miss this chance to step into a new century and transcend the old politics of divide and conquer by not voting for Obama then to speak frankly I worry that we're screwed possibly for good this time. Or at least for a long, painful time.

We could see a huge and vast collapse of our country at some point in the near future. I for one am updating my passport.

You just never know with this country and the clowns who will be recycled from the Bush administration should McCain be elected.

PeterAtLarge said...

Chani, I think that "brainwashing" is what I've been talking about in my entry today, Wednesday. We do/will need to clean up our minds.

John, a long and thoughtful response. Thank you. I agree that it's not enough to vote for--or elect--Obama. We will still have the work to do that Chani mentions.

Betzy, thanks for joining me. I do enjoy the political engagement, even though it sometimes provokes anger and frustration.

Paul, thanks for the referral. A good piece by Deepak Chopra, always a wise observer in so many matters.

Handsome, I updated my own passport and updated my British nationality nearly four years ago--after November 2004! But I still hold out some hope for the sanity of this country. It's time to get to work!

TaraDharma said...

Peter, I simply do not believe that droves of white women are switching to McCain because of Palin. I think it's a lie, and a talking point the RNC is feeding to the press. Why, I read that the Obama campaign received 10 million dollars in donations during Palin's acceptance speech. That speaks volumes.

Keep the faith, brother!