The Horror: Must We Lurch Harder Right to Go Left?

However painful the remedy, America the Dense apparently needs another round of 2 X 4’s to the head. Despite fiery warnings from the world’s best social, economic and scientific analysts — aghast how many mammoth problems are trivialized, key state voting majorities still buy the faery dust of the failed right. Don’t Tea Partiers have slews of educated children desperate for absent career positions? Don’t they realize big banks thrive when elected Republicans (and conservative Democrats) call the shots? Hats off to GOP propaganda: worsening conditions are simply wished away, covered over with their perverse version of “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” just let the market deliver goodies.Thus, we endure the Great Yankee Stall. Until the beleaguered, but potent middle class internalizes the huge price of inaction, they won’t abandon mindsets so worn-out they make 1950’s thinking sparkle with innovation. Worse still, those heroes boasting we all make our own destiny would have to do something, like boycott the machine, even join some anti-Tea Party movement. Only true, sustained, more painful shock and awe cracks the national complacency. Thus, I ask, what if the left’s best ploy, however horrible, is have the right hoist itself on its own petard? Machiavelli, expressing much the same stratagem, is at my back. Alternatives are anything but self-evident.Judging by the last decade, neither thuggish campaigns, nor overbought elections, not even unpopular, regressive policies sanctioned by high court stupors, are turning America from systemic, dynastic calamities. Incompetent elites replay the same mistakes, then stare into the camera, bewildered how their vaunted plans turn to dust. Need stimulus for job growth, then insist on permanent austerity. Battling terrorism, send in counterproductive drones. Want to confront climate change, just deregulate polluters and discourage research.The Barren Robber Barons

When since the Gilded Age have super-rich so brazenly defended the rank, privilege, and their laughable social Darwinism? We have brilliantly-articulate dissenters, left and center, who present smart and workable solutions that fall by the wayside. We have scorching cable satirists who nightly spotlight overflowing hypocrisy, yet little changes. We have serious thinkers who honor M. L. King’s integrated vision, linking frenzied war-making, low socio-economic mobility, bad government, and discrimination against those not old, white, and self-entitled.

What dreadful horror must be exacted before a critical mass declares, “enough is enough”? Or is this, too, a lost golden age fantasy bludgeoned by delirium of FOX News? What besides more desperation, armed with necessity, will inform the mother of re-invention? Bring it on: let the richest take the Congress, then cap the triumph with another neocon president. With the Senate in doubt, this outcome is no fantasy, whatever the howls from the left.

What better way than to have hard-hearted anti-government crusaders self-destruct — indeed, go down in flames as the ignoble robber “barons” they are. Barren, indeed. After all, Hoover’s paralysis led to FDR and the complacent Fifties triggered the disruptive Sixties. Did not awful Bush-Cheney criminality raise up the obscure Obama to thrash the most well-heeled party frontrunner in modern times? Will reform lightning never strike again, this time with a movement capable of penetrating systemic foundations?

Bring it on — What’s the Alternative?

What else is working as politics-as-usual looks both untenable and unshakeable? Yes, there is incremental progress but much remains below the radar. Not left wing outrage, online or off, underfunding of alternative, electable choices, or wishful thinking that electing more Democrats is the ticket. Just the shift from Clinton to Bush to Obama testifies that, despite demonstrable public preferences to the contrary, America still bows downs to right wing models. Where is any unified movement that goes beyond gay marriage or shielding the most endangered species or sacred spaces? Yes, my “reaction-concoction” thesis has a flaw: postponing change tests dire thresholds about resource depletion and climate change.

I take modest solace a certain predictability clings to my logic: a GOP-run Senate will stun with reaction. Other than thunderous failure, buttressed with money, how else does extremism get yanked off the center arena? A Republican Congress aligned with hawkish Hillary could augur America’s last hurrah for the old guard, at home and abroad. Whether Clinton II, Romney or Bush redux, the result promises an Obama on steroids. Yes, there’s something worse than today’s stagnation: a renewed round of Clintonian bipartisanship, and that means never reinstating Glass-Steagal, thus reforming the banks, and the oblivion of trying to run the empire on reflexive auto-pilot.

Plus, the contradiction that is Hillary, as the second faux liberal in a row, will likely undermine today’s two-party hegemony. For not only will she re-ignite the crazed, right wing conspiracy machine, she will demonstrate how far frightened Democrats will go along with that crowd. Oddly, as FOX fabricates the next “illegitimate presidency” (first, an uppity black, now a pushy woman!), Madame President will strenuously work to legitimatize the backward status quo. With that tag-team at work, pressures for change must amplify: Reagan-Bush forced Bill Clinton rightward, Obama followed the lead, and Hillary promises one discredited liberal step too far. From that bottom, where else to go but up? And when one party implodes, the entire political dynamic shifts, and the unexpected has a chance to surface, as it has through American history.

One Hard Solution: Elect the Creeps

Certainly, doomed militarism in Iraq and Syria, absent national security, will reveal the paper Washington tiger. Austerity thins the land by exporting decent jobs. The fiery dragon of climate change will be dismissed until millions are directly singed by the flames. Yes, I still fall back on the assumption the past prefigures the future, and America survives only by again remaking itself. As Churchill quipped, “You can always count on Americans to do the right thing – after they’ve tried everything else.” Pain is painful, and yet no reform consensus is flying out of the barrel of internet essays — and all our righteous convictions have not awakened the majority.

Though Obama massacred his historic chance, his election supports a model for change. Can we take no heart that Dubya the Disaster spawned not despair but possibility. Okay, so one dosage of bad medicine, awash with nasty side effects, did not cure the patient. Not just Machiavelli, but the old Marxists argued that despotism spawns revolution. Not all ideologues are wrong about everything. Likewise, cynical Democrats posit that handing the Senate to the GOP sets up an appealing 2016 fail. Even dismal Democrats, like the broken clock, are right twice a day. Finally, is not reality the nexus of highly-predictable outcomes crashing into wildly unintended consequences. Let us ponder whether we must go right to go left. Eventually.

Robert S. Becker was educated at Rutgers College (BA) and UC Berkeley (Ph.D, English). He left university teaching (Northwestern, U. Chicago) for business, founding and heading SOTA Industries, high end audio company from '80 to '92. "Writing for the public taught me how to communicate." From '92-02 he did marketing consulting, grant, and business writing. Since '02, he scribbles on politics, science and culture, looking for the wit in the shadows. Read other articles by Robert.