I don’t really want to write about politics. I deal with politics and I write about politics in my mundane life, and the subject has become tedious to me. For the most part, political contests are territorial scrimmages between factions of the oligarchy. It’s not that the stakes aren’t high, but most of us won’t collect any part of those stakes: a few crumbs of the table, some party favors, but nothing of substance.
This is not to say that I don’t vote: I always vote, for somebody. I go to rallies, write polemics, sometimes even contribute money or time. But I always remind myself not to get carried away. Government power is like a tornado or an earthquake: it’s going to happen and it’s going to cause trouble. The only purpose in participating in politics is to try to limit the damage.
U.S. politics of the past few decades has been about a dispute between two factions. On the one hand, there are the oligarchs who believe that the general population of the country needs to be kept fairly well fed and a happy – happy sheep -- lest the oligarchs’ interests will be threatened. These use the Democratic Party as their front.
On the other side, there are the oligarchs who believe that their class can live indefinitely in a kind of free-floating cocoon of electronic representations of wealth (controlled by their “expertise”) and that they can always manipulate the rest of us into doing what they want. This faction uses the Republican Party as its front.
What is striking about the work of both of factions is how stupid and ineffective they are, even in pursuing their own interests. Both and all will sacrifice a chance to create anything of real value for a momentary advantage, and neither side is able to see twenty feet down the road in front of them.
But however incompetent they may be in pursuing their own interests, they wreak enormous mayhem on the rest of us while they try.
But I want to talk about Barack Obama. I will vote for him, not because I think he is “The One” or because I think he is a “lightworker.” (I’ve seen him called both on line.) I do find him more engaging than any important politician in a long time, but I can’t kid myself that he is not a willing agent of the interests that put him the position to be elected president. No one can raise that kind of money but by giving those who control that kind of money good reason to believe you can be managed.
In fact, for all the talk about hope and change, the program Obama proposes is pretty limited. Of course, after eight years of almost unimaginable social and economic destruction, anything less than actual malice on the part of a president might seem like the blessing of all the gods.
But that’s who Obama is: a basically conservative hustler who is no way interested in ending the basic injustices in the world, just moving them around.
In this case, though, I’ve come to think that who Barack Obama is doesn’t matter much: what he is matters a lot.
It’s not just that he’s a black man: his father was black Kenyan ex-Muslim agnostic and his mother was a white atheist academic from Kansas. He was raised partly in Indonesia by a man name Lolo, who was nominally Muslim, but was obsessed by the god Hanuman. Obama carries an amulet of Hanuman with him at all times.
He was raised in Hawaii and Indonesia and became a man in Chicago, hog butcher to the world.
He may want to be just like the men in the penthouse suites with the expensive suits who play with the world like jacks, but they are afraid of him because he is the product of an America they don’t know, the messy, smelly, colorful America that I, and probably you, really live in. And if he is elected, something profound will change in America, just because of that.
The political spectacle rarely means as much as it should, but sometimes it is informed by forces that are beyond anything the pundits and fixers and moneymen can conceive. Sometimes politicians are just hack actors speaking bad dialogue, sometimes they’re being by something outside themselves.
John Kennedy was like that. If you study the life of JFK, it’s hard to discern the great liberal hero of myth. But the myth has been far more important than the man.
When you hear Obama’s supporters chanting “Yes, We Can,” you’re hearing the voice of something more than a slick Chicago lawyer.
There are weird signs and omens all about. It’s worth noting that Election Day will occur under a lunar void, moving from Capricorn to Aquarius, while Mercury enters Scorpio at 11 a.m. EST.
We’re driving up to a cross road with the wind rising, all the needles on the dashboard spinning around.
I think this one really matters.