The Big UglyPosted: January 23, 2012
Hard to say what’s been worse this past week—putting up with a stomach virus or watching the ongoing GOP train wreck. In years past, the Gingrich factor would have been an instant tonic because the possibility that Newt Gingrich would pitch himself and his tainted legacy against a sitting Democratic President would be too, too delicious.
But that was then. This is now.
Though I’m no Mitt Romney fan, the very idea of Uncle Newt in the oval office makes me shudder. Though I’m no Barack Obama fan, Uncle Newt makes POTUS look immensely attractive. No small feat.
So where I might have jumped with joy in the past [oh please, let the Republicans nominate the ugliest, least electable candidate of the bunch], instead I’ve been thrown into a miserable funk.
The choices suck, the conversations continue to move to the extreme right and the American electorate flails in desperation.
If there’s any bright spot it is this: the longer Uncle Newt basks in glory, the more ugly he will reveal, namely the Republican penchant for the politics of petty grievances—the howl of the entitled patriarchy, still wounded by Paradise Lost; the claim of religious bigotry—the war on Christianity—while dismissing or denigrating any religion but their own; and the aggressive promise that if they can’t win, they’ll make damn sure no one else does. In addition, Newt’s recent success exposes the Tea Party for what it has truly become—a group of mindless obstructionists.
Sorry, you cannot make lemonade out of this one. Not when a voting group is willing to endorse and support a serial liar, a hypocrite without shame, a man willing to blow the dog whistle on all the old prejudices and wounds of race and gender, or conjure up the ghost of Andrew Jackson, a man Gingrich says knew how to deal with his enemies: he killed ‘em.
Native Americans, I suspect, have a different take.
Uncle Newt’s declarations might sound good in a John Wayne movie but not for the White House, not in the year 2012 when the country and the world is precariously perched on a knife edge.
But there’s more. The Newtster has taken on capitalism itself, exposing the underbelly of Republican economics—the mythical ‘free’ market, the unchained melody that without restraint will bring a Renaissance of prosperity and goodwill to hardworking Americans. Or so the tune goes.
Sing that to the unemployed, the homeless. Better yet, belt the lyrics out loud and clear to the nearly 50 million Americans now collecting food stamps, Uncle Newt’s favorite whipping boy. Or sing that discordant lullaby to the children [over 20%] now designated food insecure. Because unfettered capitalism has been the GOP’s clarion call for the last 40 years. Think about ‘trickle down’ economics, stagnating wages, the unfunded wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the call for ever-lower taxes because the ‘job creators’ need that extra revenue to make things right. Now recall the financial meltdown of 2008, where Wall St. took the unregulated ball and ran right off the cliff. Screaming ‘liberty’ on the way down doesn’t quite cut it for most of us.
This is the plus side of a Newt Gingrich, who with a magician’s flourish has pulled back the curtain on the Big Ugly. The lie is massive and cruel. The lie has inflicted pain and suffering on millions, both here and abroad.
The counter to all this is convincing the public that Barack Obama is a socialist/Marxist in hiding. President Obama is many things but a socialist and/or Marxist he is not. Barack Obama is a brand, a man marketed to the American public as a national savior. He was and is not. He’s simply a marker for the status quo.
And that’s where my ongoing funk comes in. On one side, we have Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul all extolling the Big Lie as the disease that will cure us. And on the other side we have President Obama pretending he’s Teddy Roosevelt reborn, ready to slay the Dragons of Monopoly. Only his words do not match his actions. They never did.
And then there’s us, the American electorate, the Consumer Nation brought low by dwindling expectations, the super-power made suddenly and irrefutably mortal. Will the election of 2012 rouse us from the trance that brought us to this moment? Will we see the Big Ugly for what it is rather than what we dreamt it to be?
Or will we tumble back into a dark and endless sleep?
Not to be overly depressing, there are glimmers of light on the horizon. Citizens are standing up, questioning the lack of justice in the system, the ongoing extraction of wealth by the top 1%. Despite the lack of coverage, the Occupy Wall St. movement still survives in small towns and cities across the country. Grassroot efforts are pushing ahead to remove the influence of money in government—Superpacs writ large. Several Constitutional amendments are gaining signatures and support to upend the Supreme Court’s ‘corporations are people’ decision and more and more voices are rising up in books and magazines, on the blogs and in tweets to push back the Robber Baron mentality of our corporate, government and financial institutions.
Will it be enough? I don’t know. The Big Ugly has a hell of a head start. But if Aesop is any guide, the Hare who dismisses the Tortoise should be well advised: We’re coming. Slow and steady, We the People, are coming nonetheless.