You've got some great points here. I've been thinking for a while the best way to respond.
First, it sounds like you work at my school, but I never see you on campus! Seriously though, that kind of experience is one of the reasons I am frustrated with academics in general, not just at my school.
On politics here at home. I don't know that it would matter if you were here. We have a very strange climate. On the one hand, it is as if there is nothing going on in the world. There is no sacrifice, no sense of trying to accomplish something. The best we get is some version of 'if we stop shopping, the terrorists have won.' What utter BS.
At the same time, underneath that veneer, the politics is absolutely vitriolic. I listen to the am talk radio sometimes, and those guys are astoundingly mean. Just flat out mean. The left is not any better, reading the Daily KOS reveals the same thinking from a different perspective. The one thing that neither side is interested in is actually debating or discussing with the other side. 'Anyone who thinks differently than me is clearly an idiot' kind of rhetoric. I hate it. Particularly since I don't have a strong leaning one way or the other, all I get from the climate here is turned off. It's honestly not worth voting.
So if you were here, and you were pissed about the war, you could say something, or go to a protest, or something. At which point you would be immediately marginalized and de-voiced into either the left or right gutter. Just like a bad game of bowling. That's what it looks like to me. Any reasonable question from either side is immediately dismissed by the other side, and all you've left is a shouting match.
But that brings me to the point of that blog you commented on. Truly, neither side agrees on what problems we might have, why we are fighting the war, or anything.
The far right really wants this to be a christian country (!?!).
The moderate right sees this as a clash of civilizations a la Huntington. And they luv the military.
The moderate left seems to think that Afghanistan was necessary, but Iraq was not. They may or may not think of the petro-economic implications.
The far left thinks that Bush is Hitler, the mess in the middle east is genocide, and so on.
Personally, when a conflict is important enough for the Prez's children, then I might enlist or allow my children to do so. Not before.
Why we cannot look at real structural problems and address them with some debate, dialogue and compromise is beyond me. It's either gays, abortion, ten commandments in the courthouse, or the mainstream media is downplaying success in Iraq. WTF is that?
Where is a discussion of energy security? And it's transportation implications? Where is a discussion of governmental and personal profligate debt spending? Where is a discussion of the shocking fact that (regardless of what one thinks of illegal immigration) while we are fighting a war in Iraq, we cannot secure our borders against a third world neighbor and a bunch of unarmed peasants? Where is a discussion of a Corps of Engineers that can't build a dike? Or a FEMA that can't deliver a bunch of house trailers?
We are exposed to myriad structural weaknesses in this country. A few of the proper wrong events and we are in a world of hurt. But hey, massage the numbers and the economy is great. Gay marriage is threatening the very social fabric. Bush is hitler. Global warming is gonna get us. How can we get our guy back in (or keep the other's guy out)?
Truly, what are we paying these fuckers for?
Thursday, June 15, 2006
The US Political Climate
Selections from a letter I wrote to a friend. When can we have a useful politics?