Every year I seem to blog about the challenges of Spring, and this year I’m starting early because I have a foreknowledge that it’s going to once again be interesting times. This year however, I’ll have a US election to keep my mind off things, and if the Republican Primary was anything to go by, it’s going to be an absolute circus.
I’m basically a die-hard lefty; I’m for high taxes, big social safety net, for free and luxurious public services, for the heavy regulation of banking, and thus the certain destruction of freedom and happiness. So I’m deeply suspicious of Romney as the republican candidate; despite his mild record he’s basically a stooge for the evil empire.
What’s perturbing is the growing suspicion I feel about Obama. I watched several interviews with him when he was first elected Senator, and I thought he seemed like a decent and honest guy with a pretty good idea about how to fix things. This was before we really knew how bad it was. And his rhetoric is still good, but I just can’t help but wonder why he seemed unable to achieve anything in his purported agenda in the first couple of years of his term when he controlled both the House and the Senate. The obvious answer is: he didn’t want to.
I’ve read a lot of theories both ways on Obama. His defenders talk about his long game, about the fractious nature of the Democratic caucus compared to the regimented Republican caucus, about his efforts to foster statesmanship… but I keep circling back to that first couple of years, where with a clear mandate and deep support he really didn’t seem to seize the day. Posts like this one seem tricky to directly refute on any point in detail, but more importantly, it feels like the truth. I don’t doubt that Obama’s in a tough bind, in a system absolutely overwhelmingly stacked against hope or change, whichever you believe he’s doing… but I do wonder.
Of course, the cynic/realist in me does rather feel like both major US parties are rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic. The great hope must surely be the Occupy movement, which has made some surprisingly detailed and constructive plans to front themselves as a major third-party, though it seems extremely doubtful they’ll be in any way able to contest the Presidential election unless Bill Gates or the Queen decides to front them a couple-billion dollars on the off chance it could save the “free world”.
Final point of interest – one of the major themes coming through strongly for me in Hammett and Chandler is a profound scepticism of the political system in the US and the sustainability of its production/consumption habits. 80 years ago those guys felt the US was on the brink and it’s still here… which is a little reassuring, unless you believe their basic commentary on life which is plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.