Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Roads, Woods, Divergence

The Winners

(CHEESE STAR NEWS) Senator Bernie Sanders came from behind in some polls run by some who wanted to influence the outcome, to deliver a smart, stinging slap to the flabby, botoxed features of Hillary The Inevitable in today's Indiana primary, emerging as the winner of the Democratic contest.
Meanwhile, Republicaner Trumpo swept to a commanding victory in Indiana on Tuesday, making it all over but the shouting (and there will be much of that) that the Capo Di Buffoono Capo will be the party's presidential nominee -- and not 'Crazy Ted' Cruz, who finally ended his stuttering, wheezing and increasingly erratic campaign...

After retching convulsively for over an hour at a Motel 6 outside Indianapolis, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince "Nancy" Priebus declared that Trumpo was "Il Duce", and dressed in an off-the shoulder silver lame evening gown by Okki DeLa Renta, told an audience of three reporters and a cleaning woman, "We all need to take that learning annex course about what to do with a sow's ear, and lemons. Oh, and we gotta defeat Clinton."
Greg Stillson Cries While Our Savior Shoots Rubber Bands At The Innocent
As the vote returns flowed in, Cruz alternately sobbed like a little girl and screamed in an unknown language ("Talkin' in them tongues again," observed a campaign aide). With his wife and helpmeet at his side, Cruz announced that his campaign was over. "Together we emptied ourselves across the fields in Indiana," said Cruz, "So be careful where you step. I am shamed, tired, and all of you will pay when the godly take this country back."

Dashboard Jesus, Cruz's principal campaign advisor, gave everyone a Thumbs-Up, Who's-Awesome-You're-Awesome series of meaningless gestures, shot rubber bands at random passers-by and laughed, fit to bust.

This is hardly an original observation -- but this presidential election is about the large number of people who are casting votes to reject the political system in America and (even if less obviously) that part of our population which benefit from it. Amorphously, it's a kind of unspoken Populism.  

Trump and Sanders' popularity is an obvious expression of disenchantment with America's political system, the most serious challenge to Business As Usual politics since Ross Perot's outsider candidacy in the 1990's -- except both 'outsider' candidates in 2016 are still members of the two dominant parties. That Sanders' and Trump's popularity might also indicate disenchantment (or something more) of the Peasantry with how Our Fabled Wealthy have rigged the game is less often mentioned.

People appear to be voting against something this season, more than voting for anything specific (possibly a feature of the primaries; less so in a general election, where specifics matter). And even if that rejection isn't fully understood by the people who experience it -- not everyone pissed off about things dresses in black on May Day and marches in Seattle under the "A" banner -- people understand we could be facing Fifty Miles Of Bad Road. Many are frightened of what our future holds. 

We're living in a country on the cusp of a robotics technology revolution that could make entire classes of employment obsolete for humans within the next decade, just as it will enrich Silicon Valley's wealthy still further. Issues of race and equality are as starkly apparent as they were in news films from the early 1960's, but now with The Fire Next Time : a more ugly, in-your-face edge.

The reach and power of corporations (who now have the same legal rights as human beings) has never been greater. 'Business' is touted as The Great Game, and business "leaders", avaricious and narcissistic, are held up as heroes, role models. And not since the Gilded Age of the 1880's and 90's have the gap between The People who Matter and the rest of us been more apparent.

People always vote about the future, even if we're not certain what that future will be (e.g., people voting for JFK in 1960 didn't know he would be responsible for avoiding a general thermonuclear war with the Soviets two years later. Good pick, that).  On the Left and the Right, we look for leadership who will help to navigate it, or throw the brakes on and delay it as long as possible.  But what seems different about this election season is --whether frightened or optimistic, a large number of people seem to be casting votes which say they don't trust the Powers That Be to run that future for anything but their benefit.

1 comment:

  1. your title here evokes a famous poem by robert frost

    which is referred to in a poem by james tate

    which i posted in the comments here on 9/11/2014

    my discussion is a bit fuller and so i hope the reposting will not be too unwelcome

    I Left My Couch in Tatamagouche

    I desired lemonade—it was hot and I had been walking for hours—
    but after much wrestling, pushing and shoving, I simply could not get my
    couch through the restaurant door. Several customers and the owner and
    the owner's son were kinder than they should have been, but finally
    it was time to close and I urged them to return to their homes, their
    families needed them (the question of who needs what was hardly my field
    of expertise). That night, while sleeping peacefully outside the train
    station on my little green couch, I met a giantess by the name of Anna
    Swan. She knelt beside my couch and stroked my brow with tenderness. She
    was like a mother to me for a few moments there under the night sky. In
    the morning, I left my couch in Tatamagouche, and that has made a big difference.

    ——James Tate

    The last line here approximates, to humorous effect, the ending of Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken". Tate's narrator has a visionary dream outside a Nova Scotia village - just as Frost's line is ALMOST quoted, there is ALMOST an internal rhyme in the poem's title - the town's name is pronounced goosh.

    Tate could have titled this poem “The Couch Not Taken”, but that would have been too obvious.

    What are we told of the events that led our narrator to this life-changing decision? First, the restaurant customers and the proprietors make large efforts to attempt to include him, to help him get the couch into the restaurant. At last our narrator urges them to return to their homes and families — a recognition that their concerns are as important as his own.

    The train station the narrator sleeps outside is now, in real life, a bed-and-breakfast. Anna Swan, the giantess who extends maternal affection to him in his dream, is a historical person who was seven feet five and a half inches tall when fully grown. She was born in 1846. She and her husband, similarly statured Confederate veteran Martin Van Buren Bates, met when a circus he was appearing in came to Halifax, NS. They toured Europe and the United States and settled in Ohio.

    The turning point is when Anna Swan's giant hand caresses his brow while he sleeps. In her largeness she stands for the maternal archetype, all our foremothers. The narrator is then able to feel his connection with the rest of humanity — note that this issue of connection with the human family, and the narrator's alienation from it, has already been raised by the line “their families needed them (the question of who needs what was hardly my field of expertise)”. He leaves his literal couch behind — in other words, begins to live a new life, no longer burdened with the events of his past.

    In an analysis of Frost's The Road Not Taken, David C. Ward points out the emphasis of that poem on individuality.


    Tate's protagonist, however, is liberated by his realization of his participation in our common humanity.

    May the Creative Forces of the Universe have mercy on our souls, if any.


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