There’s probably nothing more tellingly gruesome about America these days than the state of our healthcare system. Nothing drives this home more aptly than having a close encounter with it, as Erica has just had. Everything from an ER doc who missed two critical fractures to absolutely absurd costs (does eight nights really cost ninety thousand dollars, not including tests, medications and procedures?). But pardon me, I’ll not rant about these facts of life (when there are so many others more efficient than I, notably James Kunstler over at Clusterfuck Nation), other than to say I’m glad this part of Erica’s journey is over with, and she survived both the accident and the horrors of her encounter with the medical/insurance complex relatively intact.
After sixty-someodd years of life in this country, I’ve come to think of myself as pretty open minded when it comes to Change, but this year’s stream of events has left me almost speechless. I don’t really regard myself as either conservative or liberal, but neither do I regard myself as someone perpetually sitting on the fence. One of my more distant ancestors, some dude named Francis Bacon, once wrote about reading neither to contradict nor to believe, but to weight and consider. Something about informing oneself – to all the various points of view in an argument – seems to me a very decent way of approaching life. Of course, once you make the attempt THEN you’ve got to decide on a prudent course of action. That’s what this year has been about (to me, so far at least), this great ‘figuring’ it all out.
And today the folks in England are making such a decision concerning the so-called Brexit, and to me this feels rather like one of those momentous days that in time History comes to regard as a turning point. Tomorrow we’ll know the outcome; months from now we’ll begin to fathom the real contours of all the outcomes. Who knows, maybe we’ll know by November.
And curiously, we’ll be on the cusp of another such turning point, won’t we? In the wee matter of (assumably) Clinton v Trump. And I say assumably – for despite appearances to the contrary – I have a strange feeling that both may be out of the equation by the end of summer. Like a lot of people, and even a few pundits, Trump seems to be on the verge of stumbling his way right out of the GOP convention, while it seems to me that the FBI may just come along and rain on Ms Clinton’s parade any day now. Two terribly flawed candidates lurching towards November with equally troubling disapproval ratings? How did we get here, to this edge of the precipice?
I was recently reading two wildly disparate takes on this phenomenon. One from a political blog on the (Sander’s) left, the other a Trumpist perspective, and both quoted people interviewed at their respective candidate’s rallies. What struck me was a similarity of expressed viewpoints, one I’d like, with no claim to originality, to dub as the ‘Burning Down The House’ point of view.
People interviewed at both candidates’ rallies claimed that politics in Washington was so broken, and so corrupt, that it was beyond repair. Their candidate was the only one capable of tearing down the existing order, to setting fire to the whole house of cards, and almost to a man (and woman, too) these people expressed a desire to see the country burn.
Same sort of mythologizing idiocy was enabled after article 48 of the Weimar constitution was invoked, ushering-in a Viennese housepainter as the eventual chancellor of Germany some years back. And before that, in the early 1790s, when the French Revolution was still just barely in it’s heady Jeffersonian days, and when reforms weren’t coming fast enough? This same impulse was astir, and a chap named Robespierre came along and took the controls; soon guillotines all over Paris ramped-up into high gear and the heads really started rolling. A dude named Napoleon came along and cleaned up that mess.
History has revealed an interesting propensity for pissed off people to clamor for Change, most especially Revolutionary Change, when in actuality said people have little or no idea what kind of change they really want (let alone, need).
That’s the danger floating around these days. Polarized people, expectations aflame as short-sighted politicians stir up anger and fear all around the world, and somehow, some way, it all comes back to institutionalized grifters coming to take your money away. Whether they’re coming from Wall Street or Main Street, many of the basic goods and services we’ve come to expect from government seem to be directed not to serving the people, but more directly to fleecing the people. You read about it day after day in stories coming out of Brazil – and Poland and China and Russia and America – and somehow you pick up the contours of a common theme.
Democracy is dead; her raped, battered body sold out to the lowest common denominator by a ruling elite who seem to have lost touch with the lessons of History.
The next few months should be very interesting indeed. It’s a wonderful time to be a writer.