I simply cannot help feeling that were Sarah Palin to capture the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, it would virtually guarantee a rout of historic proportions. If the American electoral system were capable of registering intensity of preference, I would worry big time. But one passionate vote by a God-fearing Tea Party Birther counts for exactly as much as one desultory vote by a languid, over-confident Obama supporter. And there are vastly more of us than there are of them.
Let me tell a story. Back in the 80's, I was invited to speak at a panel of the Socialist Scholars' Conference on my new book, Understanding Marx. I found my way down from Western Mass to Manhattan Community College, on the Lower West Side of New York. When I entered the large reception hall, absolutely packed to overflowing with socialists, I exulted. Just for a moment, I thought "My God! Look at us all! We are going to take over the world!" Then it occurred to me, "This is all of us. And we fit into one large room." We did not take over the world.
Sarah Palin can pack a room. She can, with enough planning, fill a plaza. But in a country of more than three hundred million people, that won't even get you elected to the Senate from a reasonably populous state.
If the economy has not come back big time, a Mitt Romney could pose a real threat. But the Republicans, Lord love them, will not go for Romney. They just may rush over the cliff carrying Palin banners.
From my mouth to God's ear.
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
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You're probably right about a rout. The squeeky loud wheel may get some grease but that doesn't mean its bearings aren't shot and that it isn't about to fall off. But better it should fall off after she's nominated than before--bigger bang.
Then it occurred to me, "This is all of us. And we fit into one large room."
I had a similar feeling at the inaugural meeting of "Hope not Hate-Scotland" last week. How can we implement a nationwide education programme aimed at discrediting the fascist BNP when they can fill town halls with frenzied support and we mustered 7 students, 2 communists, 2 union delegates and 1 sympathetic labour councillor?
Any advice gratefully accepted Professor
Alas, that is the story of my life. My love affair with the Obama campaign was in part inspired by the excitement at actually being part of a movement with a chance of success. Herbert Marcuse had it right in the Preface to ONE DIMENSIONAL MAN. When there is no real movement on the ground, theorists perforce retreat to ever more abstract levels of analysis. It is what inspires some to conspiracies, but I find "whispering in a corner with a few boys" [Plato, GORGIAS] not to my taste.
Are there any theories of consciousness-raising?
Movements are made on the ground by analysis of concrete conditions and effective communication (says she who has never been an organizer), are they not?
No, I don't think so. Movements are made by the development of objective conditions and by pain and need and anger. They are helped along by analysis. But the best analysis in the world cannot call into existence a movement. Intellectuals, even Marx, are always subordinate players.
"Movements are made by the development of objective conditions and by pain and need and anger."
But, we do have difficult "objective conditions," as well as "pain and need and anger" now! It's just that the analysis of the causes is going in the wrong direction, in my view!!!
If you are right, then all we need is to write a good book! Would that were so. I tried that a number of times.
Plus charismatic leadership.... like your grandfather, perhaps?
There is that other great tradition in American politics.... actor/candidate, with Ronald Reagan, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and now Palin....as a new version of celebrity/candidate.
But Arianna Huffington is trying...with her "move your money" campaign....Naomi Klein is out there.....Maybe this is the year of the women.....
(not I :-)).
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