As I watched the whole Tea Party victory bandwagon rolling across my TV screen this week, I thought to myself, "Hey, what the left needs is its own Tea Party movement.. you know, a progressive tea party.
Then I realized just how stupid an idea that was. The last thing progressives/liberals need is to energize our own nut-base -- which after four decades in liberal politics I can assure you has more than its own share of nuts. (Hell, if we put our leftwing nuts together with all the Tea Party's rightwing nuts we're likely to cause a rupture in the fabric of time/space.)
But what to do? My inclinations of late have been to pull inward, to focus on family first, then neighbors and lastly my immediate community. In those realms I can affect real change, do tangible good. My wife Sue, for example, is a retired Family Nurse Practitioner. She decided to use her 40 years of experience by volunteering at a local free clinic. In the morning when Sue arrives at the clinic, she sees patients lined up for care --- middle aged, formerly middle class patients, new to the world of charity, ashamed, beaten by forces beyond their control.
I don't see much I can do that would be of any use whatsoever in national politics. Republicans are on a path to authoritarianism masquerading as libertarianism. Democrats are lost in space and Independents are " well kidding themselves.
And so, over the past couple of months I have discovered that something beyond by control is happening inside my head -- I'm disengaging. I let my subscription to the Wall Street Journal expire after decades of considering it must reading. But instead of reading it I found myself just scanning the headlines and muttering insults and obscenities at them then turning the page -- and repeating the exercise in aggravation
I used to be addicted to pundit programs like Washington Week in Review which appears every Friday night on PBS. But last night Gwen et al, were only 2 minutes into chattering about Tuesday's primary results when hit the "off" button. It all seemed so important to me once. It felt like citizenship to be informed and involved. Now it just makes me feel like an abused spouse listening to a group of therapists discussing the pathology of abuse.
So, what to do? Below is a piece by Chris Hedges which I offer only as an example of how others are beginning also to disengage. Now I don't entirely endorse Chris' prescription, but his angst resonates with me and, I suspect, a growing number of others. The two parties each claim to be the real "big tent party," but all I see when I look in those tents is a giant-ass freak show -- that appears to be getting freakier by the day.
Now, that's not to say there are not serious, even potentially deadly, problems that need solving on the national and international stages. It's just that none of the traditional checks and balances seem to function any longer. In the old days candidates like O'Connell and Palin and their ilk would have been escorted out of the tent by armed guards -- and likely put on a 48-hour psychiatric hold. Now they're lauded America's saviors and future party leaders.
Well, call me a party pooper but I'm not attending. I'm staying home with family and friends. I'm content to watch this train wreck from a safe distance.
Finally, I don't blame Republicans. After all, we knew all along that they're bears, and they do sh*t in our woods. I had begun to write that I blame the Democrats, --- but I stopped and hit the backspace when I remembered -- oh yeah they're bears too -- which explains all the sh*t in our woods.
Stephen Pizzo has been published everywhere from The New York Times to Mother Jones magazine. His book, Inside Job: The Looting of America's Savings and Loans, was nominated for a Pulitzer.