Curtain Raiser

Our Horse in This Race, Colltalers

It’s inaccurate to say that the U.S. presidential campaign is about to get started. Although the July Republican and Democratic conventions, and the November election, are all fast approaching, we’ve already been in the thick of it all for at least the past two years.
From a GOP standpoint, a state of ‘permanent campaigning’ has been declared the moment President Obama took the oath of office, in 2008, and it only got louder, as his two terms progressed. The difference is that now, we’ve got an idea about his successors.
Well, good day, dear readers, and welcome back to our weekly homily (?) about the state of the world that extends a few inches beyond our bellybutton. With American politics, we’re picking it up right where we left, due to its obvious global relevance.
If you’ve been distraught, at times, and appalled, ever so often, by U.S. foreign policy and heavy-handed conduction of world affairs, and not particularly impressed with this president’s successes, we won’t lie to you: things have the potential to become a lot worse.
You may also consider yourself luck if you haven’t lived in the U.S. in the past decade, or last few years: you’ve been spared a disturbing display of brutal street violence, along an equally criminal inane political debate, to discourage even an eternal optimist such as yourself – or someone you know. Racial tensions, economic inequality, and an overall foul mood have been all but a given.
And so has a sorrowful defeatist attitude towards real change, a deafening silence by Americans who seem resigned

to accept a Congressional term devoid of any spine, that for the most part exercised blatant subservience to the interest of corporations. At most of every turn, this legislature has made sure that social welfare and ‘justice for all,’ for instance, were not in any way championed.
And yet, most representatives have been rewarded with reelection. Almost as if acting in tandem, the Supreme Court has also done its part in depleting important elements of citizenship, from the Voting Act to financial transparency of the electoral process, i.e., money in politics, to women’s rights for full healthcare, to church-state separation in public policy (and buildings), the list is long.
Throughout this legislature and justice cycle, important rights about immigration, fair trials, disclosure of citizen surveillance, and many of the achievements of the Civil Rights movement for racial equality, have been either assailed or downright ignored.
Granted, there were specks of light that, given their relevance to society, deserve to be lauded here, such as the Supreme’s decision on the Fair Housing and Affordable Care acts, as well as the landmark legalization of same-sex marriage in all states.
But most of these important issues, catastrophically covered by a damagingly biased media establishment, has been reduced to their most polarizing essentials and villainized to death by hate-mongering pundits. And the majority of the current crop of a dozen or so candidates to president have shown no ability to approach such issues without falling into a sophomoric name calling diatribe.
It’s come to a point when it’s no longer possible to get a straight piece of information from the traditional media, not if one doesn’t do due diligence and check multiple sources. And that’s not just unfair, but impractical to be required from a would-be well-informed voter. The Internet does offer those alternative sources, but only amid an even wider array of misinformation and hidden interests.
It’s impossible, and dishonest, to speak about the American political process, and not to position oneself in either one of the sides of the equation, the two major political parties. So, full disclosure, Democrats have not been the solution for a long time, but if the alternative is what we’ve seen from the Republican front-runners, it’d be completely insane to support a White House gear change.
If the GOP current political discourse is any indication, a Republican president would immediately destroy the few achievements of the Obama administration concerning, above all, the environment and the threat of climate change, along with Obamacare, the work-in-progress universal health care coverage system, and some of the no-nonsense decisions the president has fortunately got right.
Also, after the disastrous Bush terms in office, the U.S. has slowly regained its leadership position, beyond its reductive and more often than not disruptive role as world police. Despite his critics, President Obama did restore some dignity to the country’s position in the world, and, for a change and in no small measure, for what was accomplished with the power of its diplomacy, not guns.
Iran, for instance, whose sanctions and threat of a nuclear conflict have been lifted, at least for now, has become a poster nation of sorts of some of those accomplishments. Yes, it’s still under-acknowledged and mostly treated as an enemy, but there has been undeniable progress in its situation as a world pariah of just a few years ago. Now if only the same could be said about Saudi Arabia.
Regardless, we’d rather have a million times an Iran speaking its mind than as a secret purveyor of world terrorism. Again, what about the Saudis? And yes, there’s Syria and the tragedy of its nation-shattering civil war, right in front of our eyes, and the multimillion waves of refugees that it’s generating. And there’s also North Korea, and Israel, and Yemen, and, should we stop now?
The point is that these and other problems are everyone’s responsibility, not a single, military power. We ‘cant’ try to take over and rebuild every country that falls into crisis, even if it’s done with the best of the intentions,’ the president said on his last State of the Union, Tuesday. Which would sound arrogant coming from any other country but the U.S. Coming from us, it rings true.
This ‘nation rebuilding’ rhetoric, thoroughly debunked in Iraq as the tragic fallacy it really is, is a built-in addiction that comes from putting too much currency on the ability of guns to solve the world’s ills – and of course, having too many defense contractor mouths to feed. Elevated into national security priority status, it only brought us derision and fear from our allies.
But it was clearly not an accident or by-product of the U.S.’s multiple military adventures. It was consciously sold by the Bush administration as a panacea that would justify the carnage and pillage that preceded it in Iraq. Despite being prevented at the last minute from being applied to Libya, it’s now being advocated by Pentagon hawks, as a Hail Mary solution for Syria.
It’s a complicated world out there, but even as an understatement, such realization would embody a terrifying reality if Americans do not choose wisely their next president. So far, there haven’t been many reassuring signs that the current crop of Republican contenders to the White House are up to the task, even though the Democratic field of two has problems of its own too.
While Donald Trump and Ted Cruz lead the GOP race, and have begun an open, all out but ultimately witless and disgraceful battle to be the nominee, Democrats Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have each a huge handicap of their own.
The first would-be U.S. female president was never closer to achieve what has eluded her since her days as a First Lady who had to, er, swallow her words and sing ‘Stand By Your Man,’ while still residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave: legitimacy as an elected leader.
Such careful qualification is required, for few believe she’ll overcome another element of her handicap to be sworn in: honorability as a politician. In fact, she hasn’t been able to shake the public perception that she’d cut off her own foot in order to get elected.
That’s not an uncommon perception about politicians, though, and to be honest, it’s actually considered a compliment, if paid to male candidates. Alas, she’s not getting any free passes on that one, as no woman would from the mostly conservative U.S. electorate.
But if you have a problem running for president just because you’re a woman, and think that being a man would give you a pass, try being a Jew and old, for measure. In the case of Bernie Sanders, add also the fact that you’re not exactly attuned to black issues.
That’s a crucial demographics for Democrats, and a mere six months from the convention, he’s already behind it. Yes, Sanders does have a lot to cover, even when one ignores for a second how Americans value image over substance, and youth over anything else.
Neither Clinton nor Sanders can do much about that kind of shortcoming, but both could run on the two things that set them apart from recorded history: gender and ethnicity. It’d be refreshingly specific, rather than look phony by trying to appeal to everything and everyone. Besides, only a hypothetical black Jewish woman, running on a socialist platform, could appear more progressive than that.
That bounces the ball dangerously back to the GOP corner, and they’d be sure to use it to their advantage. Problem is, what does Trump, Cruz, Rubio and all the rest have to say to black families, whose young have been targeted by law enforcement, to whom discrimination is an everyday occurrence, and whose national income averages pale in comparison with whites, and Latinos?
Speaking of them, if Democrats have usually counted on the black vote to win, and Sanders needs to catch up with that real soon, Latinos may sink a Republican win, if anything, on the account of them failing to put forth a viable immigration reform plan.
These issues will certainly be regurgitated as the year progresses, on an even more chaotic way that this post have lined them up. Credit that to us being a bit rusty, if you would, and don’t forget to add to the mix all variables that may sway the outcome of the election. Climate change, race, civil rights, income inequality, are all worth discussions leading the way to Washington DC.
But one last big theme has sadly fell out of sight in many past voting cycles and we, for one, would like it to top them all: world peace. In fact, even the president haven’t been mentioning much about our need to reverse the world to a state of relative, possible peace.
And that’s lamentable. Today being Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the U.S. is as appropriate a time as any to refresh that almost forgotten concept: it was part of his dream, and it should be part of ours. Give it another shot and have a great one. WC

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2 thoughts on “Curtain Raiser

  1. Nil says:

    Closest I ever got to the States was Cuba… and I kind of got stuck there for a while 😉 So, I don’t really know much about what lives in the US streets and my knowledge is based on any sources I can find in the news and the internet… While you paint a colorful picture from the inside, I see a rather similar picture looking at it from good old Europa (which, by the way, is having some ‘interesting’ times as well 😉 ) I really wish M.L.King were still around to tell us about his dream and work on it but wasn’t it Reagan who said ‘You ain’t seen nothing yet!’ – or did they say it about him… (?).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Colltales says:

      One may say that it’s the Western way of life that’s undergoing profound changes, but that would be utterly unoriginal and probably too grandiose to describe reality. Similarities between what’s going on across the pond, though, do seem to be rooted on some of the same unresolved issues of ethnicity, race, income inequality, and war. Thank you for your input, Nil.

      Liked by 1 person

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