There was a lot of reaction on Facebook to my expression of a personal conviction that President Barak Obama is by far the best choice to lead our country for the next few years. There was a lot of support. Some respectful dissent which I, in turn, respect. And some pretty crazy shit. Selected or twisted so-called “facts,” that are often nothing like facts. Weird constructs developed to make the world fit into a peculiar mindset.
I don’t take them down, those comments. Mostly I don’t, and I struggle a little with that. After all, it’s my wall. Not a radio talk show. Not a street corner. I’ve no obligation to give others a place to vent whatever it takes for them to meet some private need in whatever yap and banter suits them. They can write on their own walls. They can find an audience for themselves. Surely, there is one out there. There is always that. Or they can talk to themselves, if they don’t already.
Do they think they are being read by others as they read themselves, or do they suspect that’s not the case, rationalizing it away with the notion they have some greater brainpower or vision beyond all those otherwise intelligent, educated, well-intentioned folk who cannot grasp or handle “the truth” because of some terrible infirmity of blindness? What magic of cognitive dissonance is this? Do they imagine the rest are the ones chained to the wall of Plato’s cave, and not themselves? What terrible pressure is it to own the last period after everyone has gone away, shaking their heads.
I leave those comments up as illustrations. They make an argument, though not any intended one. I think it’s good to see it. It represents something real and powerful that can be pretty easily discerned. No further commentary needed.
So, fuck a duck. I’m feeling good. Optimistic. Even if I’m the only person on the planet feeling that way for the moment. Rare enough these last years. I’m not going to squander it. I’ve been daydreaming. Almost all day—and O, man, how I love to daydream. I was once known for it. Internationally.
Today, in my dream, 20 or 30 or 40 other folks and I are marching through the streets, just like we did in Seville back in the day, as they say. Guitars, flutes, and tambourines, cardboard boxes and cowbells, metal pails and plastic ones and broom handles—anything a person can carry to pluck or blow on or pound against something hard. Singing. We’re singing. Palms slap flamenco rhythms, bottles of tinto passing, great hashish clouds swirl with our toned breaths. Only it’s the streets of Jacksonville instead of La Alameda. And we’re heading for the polling stations. That’s right, baby. And it’s Cheryl Wheeler’s “Your God” we’re bellowing to brick face and allyway and one another, laughing as we go.
12 Replies to “Obama, Facebook Loons and a Daydream”
A beautiful statement of a mind-boggling phenomenon. Thanks for sharing, Ari-man.
I wish I could be as hopeful and optimistic as you are with regard to the re-election of the incumbent president. I really do. If your optimism proves correct, there would be no one happier than myself. Please do not take my opposition to the incumbent as an exuberant support of his primary challenger. It’s not. I’m unhappy with either choice. My vote is decided between the that with which I oppose or that with which I am vehemently opposed. That’s not a good place to be.
I believe that God is a God of love–but I don’t think that God’s “love” is a license to define Him as either a conservative or a liberal God.
The will of God prevails. In great contests each party claims to act in accordance with the will of God. Both may be, and one must be, wrong. God cannot be for and against the same thing at the same time. In the present civil war it is quite possible that God’s purpose is something different from the purpose of either party — and yet the human instrumentalities, working just as they do, are of the best adaptation to effect His purpose. I am almost ready to say that this is probably true — that God wills this contest, and wills that it shall not end yet. By his mere great power, on the minds of the now contestants, He could have either saved or destroyed the Union without a human contest. Yet the contest began. And, having begun He could give the final victory to either side any day. Yet the contest proceeds. –Abraham Lincoln
Both [North and South] read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces; but let us judge not that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered; that of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. –Abraham Lincoln
And here we are. I am praying for mercy. Can we agree on that?
We are but a “Hair’s Breadth Away” from destruction on either side. May God be merciful to us all.
Understood, Rebekah. At the risk of sounding corny, I know these are hard times with much at stake. And so much at stake makes it all the harder to know which way to turn. I respect your disenchantment with both sides, both parties. Big money has hijacked democracy. After all, we live in a time when corporations are people, and people are statistics who serve no purpose but to be bent to serve pre-baked (and often half-baked) ideas. Really, I’m not a democrat or a republican. At least I don’t consider myself one of those things. I’d like to see a vibrant third party. Not a crackpot third party of the religious right like Pat Robertson or a cartoon like Ross Perot. There are the libertarians, of course. There are always the libertarians. And of course they are appealing, because they are so right on some things—by right, I mean “correct,” at least in my opinion. They might, if they ever got any power, serve the gay community better than anyone—I don’t know that, but they certainly say some good things. But their economic outlook is too simplistic. Oh, sure, get the government out of the way and let the system work, but even the great capitalist thinkers presented the laissez-faire model as an ideal construct. It requires, I’m afraid, a different sort of human being to work. And the result would be, in my opinion, catastrophic. And the communists? Are they even running someone anymore?
You know, even Von Mises determined a certain baseline of unemployment is necessary for a true capitalistic system to work. There has to be that excess labor pool. That means that the unemployed are performing an absolutely necessary job, just by existing as such. Shouldn’t they be paid? What’s an equitable wage? To me, it’s simple—enough to eat (and not a bag of rice, a hunk of cheese, and some water—how fucking insane is that), a place to live that’s safe, clothes to wear, education, healthcare, and a little bit more for the discretionary spending that allows a person to feel like a person.
Ah, I’m off track. Where was I? Or, better, where are we? We are a schizophrenic nation right now. I don’t mind that folks disagree with me. What I mind is the implication that I must be mad, stupid, mesmerized or just under the influence of radioactive bacon to believe that Barak Obama is a decent guy. I do believe that. To some that’s wishful thinking. Their evidence consists of laundry lists of everything that is just horribly wrong with the way we, as a nation, and how we operate, how the government operates. I don’t think it’s that easy. I don’t think it’s fair or reasonable. I don’t think where we are as a nation is a good place.
What I do think is Barak Obama is closer to being a regular guy than the other guy. No doubt plenty will take issue with that. I’d not be surprised if that statement stirs up a bevy of bees in somebody’s gotkes. But I think he gets certain things—even if these ideals are not and cannot be made manifest as fully as I’d like.
And, I’ll admit to it, I’m out of sync with the general way of thinking and feeling about things. You see, I think there are things that government, as an extension of the general will of the people, does do better than the private sector. People talk about how horrible education is. And they’re right. It’s a mess. And that’s because government is doing the wrong things for the wrong reasons. But we need to look, as well, at what education (or the absence of it) was like before it became a right, a public mandate: universal public education. It was huge for us. In my opinion, the greatest engine for productivity and happiness ever conceived. Where has it gone wrong? And who do we think can make it better? For one, you need someone who believes in the idea. Seems like Barak Obama to me.
People like to beat up on the unions. It’s hard to defend them sometimes. Pretty checkered past for some of them, eh? Unreasonable monoliths at times, run by crooked labor tycoons. But the conditions and rights won by the unions are profound, and at a very high cost of hard work, tough times, and blood spilt. But today workers can expect considerations in the workplace. Safety for one. A concern for the requirements of human dignity—though we’ve got a long way to go before people can be real, whole people in the workplace by right, and not merely to the extent of the begrudging consent of bosses. And there’s a basic pay–—even if the minimum wage is just absurdly low. These protections would not exist without union organizers and members.
And there are taxes, Rebekah. I’m for taxes. I like taxes. We need them to do the things we do if we think they are worth doing. I’m not satisfied with social security. It’s insufficient for too many, and superfluous for others who nonetheless cash the checks. I’m unhappy with Medicare, but damn it’s necessary until we can finally put together a universal health care system. That’s an absolute necessity. I’m not happy with Obamacare. I don’t think Obama is. Who is going to at least try to move it further? That’s clear. That’s something I believe in. That’s another reason I’m voting for the guy.
I know this: the inequity in our country is beyond the pale. Something is desperately wrong, and I have to ask myself who even sees it that way, or might see it that way—as a thing that needs correcting, that will not correct itself magically if we just get government out of the way.
Sure, I’m not happy that the LBGT community is still fighting for civil liberties, and Obama has been too slow—though more and more my anger at him for this is placated by the realization of the difficulties that must be contended with to move our sometimes less than cordial society further toward justice, equality and equity. It’s not an excuse. This issue should not be an issue. I think it should be corrected now, right now, not one more day. I even feel (and perhaps it’s risky to say it, because it’s like tossing chum into the ocean,) Obama thinks so, too. Wishful thinking? Nah. Judgment of character. I do trust my judgment. I’ve a pretty good record. I think it’s a firmer foundation than some others have when they trust the sources and slants of their so terribly out-of-proper-context facts.
What I’m expressing here are my thoughts. Because I think I can say to them to you without them being perceived as provocation to war. I deeply and truly respect your dissent on these matters. I will never call you a name for that. I will never doubt your sincerity or intelligence on account of it. I will never climb up on top of my car, beat my chest, and claim to own the only, unassailable truth or assume, for one moment, that my facts are the only ones not carefully, sometimes unconsciously selected. I don’t do that to anyone. I expect the same. Not that I think you would ever do that. But some do.
My optimism of the moment is not political. It’s personal. Probably it will pass. Nonetheless, in my opinion, the re-election of President Obama will be cause for celebration. Not because I think the people of the country will get the country they deserve. That doesn’t happen so quickly. But because I think we’ll be closer. And I think a great danger will be averted. A rollback now to past policies, a government beholding to the extreme right wing with its weird religious bent, would be awful. I’m not dissing conservatives. I just think the conservative movement is not at present being served by true conservatives. Or, rather, what is being called a “true conservative” is something quite other than it has historically been.
Again, Rebekah, I respect your dissent. I understand your concern and worries. I share them. If you feel the best thing to do is remove the incumbent at any cost, or if you really feel the opposition candidate offers up even the tiniest modicum of better hope, then that’s how you should vote. I will continue to respect that. I have to say, I’ve lost respect for some others of late. Or at least feel I’ve cause to not count them as warm as I once thought, or as intelligent, or even as friends. Not the case with you. Don’t imagine that could happen.
Thanks, Ari. I appreciate all of this, and you. When I was in your class in 2002, and we had our class debate, I remember you saying, “No matter what the issue is that is being argued, you have to remember that there are good and decent people on both sides.” That really stuck with me. I have people that are dear to me on both sides of many issues in this world–religious, political, social–you name it. I try to keep in mind their persons before their issues. You’ve helped me to do that. That’s something right there. A heck of a lot. Especially when getting through the swamp of life means a slippery skid walk across the backs of snapping alligators. Corny? I never think that…under the influence of radioactive bacon??….there’s a title. 😉 As Bogey said to Rains, “Louie, this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”