August is winding down, and as we approach the resumption of the real world, after Labor Day, the Republican craziness is imploding. After riotous town meetings, death threats against Obama, birther bizarrerie, and even the egregious Michelle Bachman being booed at a constituent meeting, with cretinous creeps like Chuck Grassley fresh out of plausible pontifications [do you ever wonder how some of these people actually got elected?], with Ted Kennedy lying in state, and serious talk of reconciliation now to the fore -- with all of this, it looks as though we will get a health care reform bill that has a good deal, but by no means all, of what we dreamed of and hoped for and voted for. JUST AS I PREDICTED. This is not rocket science or brain surgery, folks, it is Congressional legislating, pretty much as it has always been.
Let us suppose that I am correct. As we approach the Thanksgiving/Christmas season, where will we be? Well, the economy will slowly, painfully, be turning around, having avoided a second Great Depression, but unemployment will still be unacceptably high -- although much of the Stimulus Bill spending will still lie before us. We will finally have significant health care reform, though muich will remain to be done. The first serious attempt at confronting global warming will be law. A Special Prosecutor will be investigating the Bush Justice Department. And the President will be able to ask himself and the country, "What shall we do in my second year?"
I mean, seriously, what more did you really expect? Gay rights remains to be addressed, though the first steps have been taken. Barney Frank will have to find a way to shepherd serious financial reform through Congress. And Obama will have to actually wind down the Iraq war and place realistic limits on the Afghanistan involvement. But Peace Talks will be restarted in the Middle East, and we may even see some sort of major change in Iran, though that is up to the Iranians, not us.
I think back again to the wisdom of Herbert Marcuse. Marcuse argued that all of us carry within us repressed infantile fantasies of immediate and effortless gratification -- fantasies to which an enormous amount of libidinous energy is attached, but which are, in their very nature, unrealizable. Combining the deepest ideas of Marx and Freud, Marcuse tells us [this in EROS AND CIVILIZATION] that the realistic goal of any revolution can only be to diminish the quantum of surplus repression imposed on men and women by the demands of capitalism and tyranny. But what fuels revolutionary fervor is the promise of LIBERATION, which is to say the fulfilment of those repressed fantasies. That is why those who have lived through revolutionary times, no matter how dangerous and uncomfortable, look back on them as the most glorious moments of their lives [rather like the way people think about tornados, hurricanes, wars, and floods, and for the same reason.]
Well, the election of Obama was no revolution, but for a moment it felt like one. Now we are seeing that the reduction of surplus repression, so to speak, still leaves us with repressed fantasies of liberation, and so we feel let down. That is normal, understandable, but not really vrey grown up of us, and so we must put away our fantasies and get back to the daily work of making as many incremental improvements in the life of this country as we can.
In an odd way, I think Teddy understood this, but that Jack and Bobby did not. That is why Jack was actually an indifferent President, and Bobby an indifferent Senator, but both were spectacular bearers of our fantasies of instant and infinite gratification.