Friday, October 21, 2016

Huey Long (Eugene McCarthy - your choice) vs. Lady MacBeth

I am an American. Not a German-American or English-American, just a plain old American. That said I could be a hyphenated American because my father was German. His family immigrated from Saxony to the United States in the 1920's. I am first generation. My mother, however, is almost directly descended from the White's that came over on the Mayflower in 1620. So then yes, I am a WASP - white, anglo-saxon, protestant.

I love America. I was born in Ohio while my father was a translator at the Nuremberg trials. I grew up in Oregon, went to Oklahoma State for college and after a stint in the Peace Corps ended up in California in 1970. Aged 71 now, I have lived more than half my life here.

I am also a Republican ... an ashamed Republican but still perilously hanging on to the Grand Old Party, a party I have no doubt that Lincoln would find disgraceful. My earliest memories of being a Republican are of me standing on a street corner in Portland, OR handing out, at the age of 7, "I Like Ike" buttons" to passers-by. I wish I still had a few of them in fact. I really liked Ike then and still do. Years later I realized we shared the exact same birthday - October 14th. In college I campaigned for Barry Goldwater driving down the rural roads in Oklahoma stapling Barry's campaign signs all over the countryside. As a young adult I was involved with the old 59th Republican Congressional Central Committee in Los Angeles and was even the committee president several years until my first child was born and I had new responsibilities.

Huey Long of Louisiana in his heyday!
A student of American history, Teddy Roosevelt is my hero and feel that if we ever needed him the time was now. Even though she is a Democrat, my current political hero is Elizabeth Warren who, like Roosevelt, stands up for what is right and is merciless to the creeps that tear down the fabric of our social contract, the Constitution, while enriching themselves.

Watching the debate Wednesday it became apparent to me just how flawed BOTH candidates are. Trump caused me to "remember" the legacy of Huey Long from Louisiana who was a demagogue that could, under the right circumstance, have brought the republic down. Watch Trump again. There is little difference.

Hillary as Lady Macbeth
Then watching Clinton I suddenly seized on the memory of Shakespeare's Lady Macbeth. After all, she had killed her first husband. To me the contrasts of Hillary and Elizabeth were striking. Here was one grilling and condemning the CEO of Wells Fargo for an unbelievable dereliction of leadership while our candidate was making cosy, and getting paid quite well, with the very people who nearly brought down not only our own economy but narrowly missed destroying the economy of the entire world. In its wake you have the Middle East, China and Europe still trying to dig themselves out of this morass.

So we have a candidate that is the poster boy for greed, and is proud of it, and a candidate that left a trail of blood throughout the Middle East, that not only set up her own private server (she was first lady 8 years ... she knew better) but after being subpoenaed to produce all of her illicit emails turned around and destroyed over 33,000 of them. Actually, I am surprised they can't find them. It is my understanding that once written they are out there somewhere in the cloud because once written they never go away no matter how hard you try. Somewhere, they are on the server of the Internet provider she used.

Guardians of the middle class? Any class other than their own? I doubt it. If any normal citizen had said and done the things these two brush off as inconsequential, we would be behind bars. Seriously. Think about it.

However, they both have their admirers ... people that believe in them no matter what kind of things they have said or have done. But not all. Watching PBS News last night, they had a feature on extremely poor citizens of Wilkesboro, North Carolina. They struggle every day to survive and their take on either political party is not kind. They all, every single one, feel abandoned. After 8 years of a Democratic presidency they look at Trump, a "dazzling" billionaire as someone outside the political morass of Washington who provides hope. Like Trump said, "What do they have to lose?" I wonder if Caesar Augustus told the Roman senate something similar.The United States is a great nation. It has welcomed, more or less reluctantly, people from all over the world. Some have succeeded beyond all expectations and made our lives better and been a beacon of light. That said, I also am more than aware of the flaws in our system. Being a Peace Corps Volunteer in Liberia, West Africa, often traveling across the continent, talked to many that maybe admired us but certainly didn't want to live like us. I remember bringing news reels to my small village and showing them the flight of Apollo 11. They were incredulous and couldn't believe that we flew around the same moon they could go outside and see that night. While the youngsters wanted to come and many did during 25 years of civil war, most stayed home. LBJ suffered the same delusions. He just couldn't believe that every Vietnamese didn't want to be like us.

The struggle is fairness, leveling the playing field so that all have a chance to succeed. Isn't that the very reason of the Revolution? Taxation without representation? There is no "official" royal family in the United States but we are a stratified society nevertheless. With enough money, you can get off the hook, the same hook I would imagine that most of my readers could not escape. For readers of ANIMAL FARM, the sign on the barn at the beginning of the book said, "All animals are equal." At the end of the book, when the pigs (very apt I might add) take over, the sign now reads, "Some animals are more equal than others."

We design, believe it or not, the society that we live in. Every vote, every law passed or reviewed by the courts, creates (designs) our society. If you don't think so, read the United States Constitution. It is quite clear in what can and cannot be done. While the document is nearly 250 years old it contains many truths and much wisdom on how to create and live in a moderate, secular society. The Constitution is a social contract between it's citizens and the citizens we elect to represent us. This is something many groups in this country have ignored to the point of creating an idealogical chasm that seems, at least before this election, impossible to cross. America's greatness is its ability to meet and compromise ... not dictate! That Trump would even allude to not accepting the vote of the electoral college is anathema to our very system of government. To even hint at this is to say goodbye to the American Republic and usher in Imperial America ... PAX Americana. More than one historian has observed the similarities of Ancient Rome and its potential here in the United States. Let's hope and pray they are wrong.

I make no recommendations but instead hope you will vote or as Edmund Burke observed in 1795 as America struggled to become a nation, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men (and women) to do nothing.” I DO urge you to vote! Every vote counts as Al Gore acknowledged the other day; he lost the Presidency of the United States by about 567 votes. For better, or worse, the republic must go on. You do count. Please VOTE!

Thank you for reading my blog. Please, take the time to explore earlier blogs where the emphasis here and always is to explore the ways design and art affects our lives ... and always has. 

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