The Heart & Soul Of Democrats (2008)

Aquarian Weekly 1/30/08 REALITY CHECK

THE HEART & SOUL OF PARTY POLITICS Part II Democrats At The Crossroads In 2008

There are still high-ranking Democrats, otherwise smart people with yardstick resumes, who manage to remain straight-faced when decrying the 2000 presidential election as some kind of de facto rip-off, whining about capturing the popular vote and Ralph Nader and the always-popular Vast Right Wing Conspiracy, sounding eerily similar to the drunk I encountered in Key West two Thanksgivings ago who repeatedly claimed the 1960 Yankees champions for out-hitting and out-scoring the Pittsburg Pirates over the length of a seven-game World Series they eventually tanked. It was a queerly enticing re-examining of our pastime for the hazy three-am ambiance of depraved hedonism, but hardly a sound template for substantive historical perspective.

L'Nuff Saidosers, like drunks, find comfort in reminiscing. As a species, humans tend to lean on random explanations for consolation, like when you trip on the sidewalk and then inexplicably look back to locate the culprit. But after a while reappraisals end up a cheap substitute for the hard truth, and this is where the Democratic Party finds itself in the winter of 2008, somewhere between the comforts of a tired excuse for “the near-miss” and the cold realities of a failed generation.

Standing at the crossroads of revisionist hard-sell, old-fashioned populism, and disenfranchised symbolism are three wild-card presidential candidates. Less ideologically split than the Republican scrum, New York Senator Hillary Clinton, former North Carolina Senator John Edwards, and Illinois Senator Barak Obama still represent a vexing dilemma to party power brokers and, most importantly, voters, as Democrats attempt to devise a single game plan to cash in on what looks to be this year’s war-addled, recession-stalled, and rancorous American political landscape.

Although displaying a minor separation in distinct number-crunching, impassioned methods, and degrees of wild rhetoric, the three Democratic choices more or less share significant party agendas; social liberalism, mildly anti-war, rabidly anti-Bush, push for equality in tax burdens, empty Health Care reform promises, etc.

What creates the obvious schism between these candidates and ultimately the Democratic Party for the 21st Century is the thorny decision to either look forward or reach backward; The Roosevelt muscle-government redistribution of wealth (Edwards), the post-sixties Baby Boomer faux defiance (Clinton) or a long-shot open-tent movement attempting to blur political lines across the divide (Obama).

Edwards’ once Cassandra-fueled “Two Americas” mantra has gained a creepy resonance now that stock market machinations, a collapsed housing market, and Federal Reserve resuscitations have tumbled us into an economic bloodbath. If money worries had come this past June instead of culminating these past weeks, Edwards might appear less footnote than legitimate contender. But alas, it has not, and in the wake of the Barack/Hillary celebrity tournament, he remains the atavistic symbol of old world test pattern blabber; white, southern, lawyer. Yawn.

Edwards is also the victim of having been on a ticket dumped in 2004, something his primary opponent, Ms. Hillary, does not carry. Although she is the living embodiment of the bloated-government, mid-20th-century, been-there-done-that candidate, Senator Rodham can, and has, taken partial credit for sleeping with the man who was at the helm during the most prosperous peacetime economy in the history of the nation. Of course, the same can be said of Monika Lewinsky, who, according to court records, can also claim foreign policy experience having discussed the late-nineties Serbian conflict with the president between Oval Office fellacio sessions.

That was then; a ghostly dream of post-war nuclear children, hell-bent to dance free and live to consume, and this is now; an emerging generation of info-savvy punks needing to break free of exploited victimhood and self-congratulatory romanticism to reclaim the Democratic Party from the stale molds of antiquity.

Additionally, possessing the last name of Clinton does not hurt those Democrats reminded that it was attached to victory more than once, which is why Madam Shoo-In’s camp has continuously sent a rambling Big Bill onto the campaign trail as the company dog and pony act, using his spastic raping of decorum to drag the once impenetrable façade of Master Barack into a quagmire of schoolyard dozens. Never has an ex-president looked more pathetic as an opponent battering ram, appearing more like one of those vapid celebrity casualties from the Cable TV trash heap than anything approaching credible.

It was Big Bill’s haphazard defense of his wife’s shaky Martin Luther King analogy to curtail the inspired nature of Barack Obama with her wonky “get-things-done” message which sent the party down a road of racist goofiness that will only help to put whatever chum the Republicans cough out into the White House quicker than expected.

Speaking of the GOP, it is more than ironic that in the past week Obama resurrected the name of Ronald Reagan, which is known to cause violent paroxysms in the heart of the old Democratic Party as it explodes teenage-girl glee in what is presently a splintered conservative movement. Obama is both Reaganesque in his innate ability to inspire over instigate, but he also represents the New Left, just as Reagan was the figurehead of the New Right, emerging from his party a steadfast elder statesman, as Obama represents the youth/change and raging minority underscore of a Democratic Party in dire need of a jumpstart.

It is important to remember that Reagan effectively obliterated the Democratic Party while stomping the heart of the counter-culture in a gold-plated Hollywood victory march envied by anyone claiming American politics home. Stealing Southern and Mid-Western Democrats, weakening unions, and putting the Left on notice, the Gipper was a galvanizing Pollyanna engine, taking on the nightmares of Watergate, the subsequent Carter malaise, and a Cold War-Middle East monster under the bed. Reagan provided the damaged American Dream with a grandfatherly face while simultaneously co-opting the initially sincere but ultimately fabricated feel-good Woodstockian hippy glow into his own flag-tripping Kumbaya rally cry.

It turns out of course that Reagan was completely insane, already deranged by creeping brain-disease and surrounded by an angrily-motivated cadre of hardened white-collar thieves looking to fatten the corporate coffers and play petty parlor games with the world map. But Ronnie was already a grizzled veteran of years on the stump, as Big Bill appears now, and by proxy, so does his spouse, screeching like a banshee about “wanting to take the country in my direction”, which looks like the direction we’d headed before for good or ill.

Obama, while being an admitted weak administrator with little to no experience in anything but sporting a bright, fresh-kid countenance, is no weathered-storm. Put-on or not, there is something independent about Obama that could gather the flock at some point, a discovered shiny penny in a pile of soiled loose change. But, then again, so was the man for whom the young senator is unfairly compared to, John Fitzgerald Kennedy; the symbol of a new dawn, but also a terrible reminder of festering political wounds.

But that was then; a ghostly dream of post-war nuclear children, hell-bent to dance free and live to consume, and this is now; an emerging generation of info-savvy punks needing to break free of exploited victimhood and self-congratulatory romanticism to reclaim the Democratic Party from the stale molds of antiquity.

Whether any of this nonsense translates into November victory on a national stage remains unknown, but chances are excuses and whining will soon follow.




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