Read this piece in The Atlantic, and read it very, very carefully:
If you’ve read it, then please move on . . .
I just had a cold sweat panic moment when I realized that my Governor understanding the nuanced elegance of what's implied in that piece would actually get odds (with a '1' in the denominator and something at least as big as a '2' in the numerator) in Vegas.
But it doesn't stop there. On a personal note, I'm willing to post similar (but probably at least slightly better) odds for any number of the ideologue-driven (Walker-apologist) friends and acquaintances I've encountered since February 11th. I hope not to experience anything (anytime soon) that will sadden me more than these engagements have. Heartbreak doesn’t always have to be tied to romance. I didn’t realize this until recently, but it’s unfortunately settled unwaveringly into my take on the world these days.
Here’s what’s really disturbing, what no amount of cold sweat panic can ameliorate. When I try to imagine a rational world, I can no longer see its face. I no longer have context. Like when Tom Hanks gave Matt Damon advice in ‘Saving Private Ryan,’ I’m trying to get my head around a situation, a story . . . anything . . . that allows for me to see it, but I can’t. I'd like to say something like, "Why isn't the message of this piece a front and center topic of conversation dominating every news cycle of every day of every week of every month?" But that would be dishonest. I already know the answer.
And my guess is . . . even though it’s hard to confront . . . you do to.
And if you can step back from what drives you in this ongoing struggle—be you a fan or a foe of the Governor—and you can evaluate the deeper meaning of this journey—and you can truly, honestly do it objectively—then you see it for what it’s become—and you see it for what it’s about to become. And you realize that this isn’t even about
“We had a good run.”
“It was great while it lasted.”
There’ll be no shortage of catch phrases and cliches. That much is certain. But the dearth of public attention given to the issues raised by this piece (and, to be sure, pieces like it that are out there if you know where to find them) is its own undeniable reality. I’m sorry, but it is . . . and I won’t feel bad or ashamed in pointing it out.
The author Chris Hedges recently wrote, “Democracy . . . is based not on personal gain but on self-sacrifice. A functioning democracy must often defy the economic interests of elites on behalf of citizens, but that is not happening.”
I’m still waiting, and I’ve set out the challenge now more times than I can remember, for someone to make the case that what’s happening right now in America belongs in a different category as compared to all the other democratic systems that ultimately went the way of oligarchy. The best response I’ve received is that something like that wouldn’t happen here . . . which is to suggest the following: I’ve not received a serious, grown-up response.
And this brings me back to my earlier point: Even though it’s hard to confront . . . you know what’s going on, you know the answer, you understand.
Like me, you’d just be more comfortable discussing something else. The weather’s always a good standby.
On the stages-of-grief spectrum my hope for those who ‘get it’ is to move as efficiently and effectively as possible to where I am, somewhere between stage 4 (depression) and 5 (acceptance). I’m of the strongly held opinion that the former informs a transition to the latter. And the latter (which I’m just now beginning to dance with) is not the worst place to be. At least that’s my initial take.
There’s nothing worse in my opinion than being on the sidelines when you’re wanted on the field, so nothing’s being quit. My side . . . which is the only side that’s interested in the survival of the Republic . . . for now, still has a voice. The traditional mechanisms for hearing this voice are being kneecapped seemingly every time an appellate court issues a ruling in this state and nation . . . but they (the mechanisms), weak as the signal may be, are still tripping a flutter into the volume meter’s dial. So long as the smiling countenance of a democratic system is in place there will be loopholes worthy of exploitation for those of us desiring a path other than the astonishingly predictable one this nation is presently navigating. Maybe, just like Indiana Jones, we can barely squeeze under that iron gate before it drops all the way to the floor.
There are State Senators to be recalled.
There’s a rock star on the sidelines waiting for an even bigger version of this game, one that will unfold over the course of the coming autumn, winter, and spring.
And there’s a general (aka, regularly scheduled) election in a little more than 16 months.
If we could simply make it so that all those polls opened tomorrow and could swear in all the new office holders the day after tomorrow . . . then I’d be buying several rounds at Hooligans Bar and Grill while Scott Walker would be pitching FOX News executives for the nightly talk show (that I honestly and sincerely predict he’ll have, with an obviously healthy bump in his present salary, by August of 2012). But, alas, we can’t cue up a Lady Gaga fast forward music montage to drop us off in the late hours of November 6, 2012 . . . champagne uncorking . . . dancing . . . celebrating a victory I suspect will indeed be ours. So if you’re here on the edge of what we have holding us upright then, if I may, in the words of Lady Gaga, ‘I’m on the edge with you.’
I’ll be there, and I’ll even maybe moonwalk a little during the victory bash, but when the acceptance speeches are done and the confetti is swept up I’ll still be the guy who quit drinking in 1992. And that means I’ll be taking a tired but clear-headed moment to sit on the steps of the Capitol Building before clambering (again, soberly) into my car to get back to Shorewood High School for November 7th’s first hour class (which, hopefully, I’ll be teaching). [For the record, I picture a light snow falling and me in a long, black trench coat gripping a bottle of Sprecher Root Beer covered by a brown paper bag.]
That moment will be mine. It won’t belong to anyone else but me.
And I don’t intend to squander it.
Right here, right now, I’ll make one thing very clear: That moment will be to measure if we’re any different from them. That moment will be to appraise our aptitude for this game of chess, whether we can see the board ten moves out . . . because that skill will be the only chance we have. And if we don’t seize it on November 7, 2012 then the next version of Scott Walker will move into town by 2017 (if not 2015) and, when he or she drops the next bomb on middle class America it will be middle class America that truly deserves the carnage because middle class America won’t be able to claim shock the second time around.
Make no mistake about it, this is a battle—a fight to human-dignity and quality-of-life death . . . and a fight we’re supposed to lose. History suggests strongly that it won’t end well for anyone, but the oligarchic side of the spectrum will likely outlast all challengers until some form of reckoning brings the whole thing crashing down.
Think of it like a game of musical chairs where eventually every chair in the circle is removed.
On November 7, 2012, in the state of
So onward. Let’s take back the state. And then we’ll see if what we did was worth it . . . or if we only managed to throw a temper tantrum to outdo the one over which they just hyperventilated their silly, impractical, fantasy-world-believing selves. At present, the picture of this 11-7-2012 world is still fuzzy, but it cannot look at all like it did on 2-10-11. We cannot aspire to return to what we had. That’s gone.
We can, however, aspire to go somewhere new . . . somewhere that embraces the idea of confronting the most egregious disparity between the haves and have nots this country has ever seen . . . somewhere that equates democracy with the will of the people and not the will of deep pockets . . . somewhere that understands freedom as a concept which inherently must include limits, lest the vast majority of those who live in this nation have no reasonable chance to experience it.
But, most importantly, this needs to be somewhere that takes several big steps back from what looks more and more like a national insanity. That’s what’s still fuzzy for me when I try to bring the 11-7-2012 picture into focus.
We’ve got sixteen months to figure it out.