I, Claudius and the American Empire
In I, Claudius, Robert Graves' fictional history of the Roman Empire (not that I read it; I watched the BBC version in the 1970's), Claudius writes of Caligula, who, amazingly, was crowned emperor in the year 37: "Let all the poison that lurks in the mud, hatch out." Meaning, let the Empire just show fully, uncompromisingly, its true nature. Let the monster Caligula be the true face of the empire.
It's a bit of trope to compare the American empire to the Roman Empire, but it's worth asking -- is this the moment where we let all the poison in the mud hatch out? Is our system so sick, so corrupt, so organized to comfort the comfortable and afflict the afflicted, that we anoint our own morally bankrupt and perverse head of state and concede, this is the essence of what America has become? Or rather, is the moment of revolution where the plurality of people say, yes please, blow this ship up.
The moment when the fears of pitchforks at the ramparts become realized?
New Deal or more of the same?
Will Bernie Sanders be elected with a Rooseveltian mandate to usher in a true Second New Deal, sweep out the rascals, imprison the bankers, stack the Supreme Court, deploy vast amounts of money to those in need, and remake the economy on precepts of fair opportunity and level playing field? Things aren't quite that bad, are they? We are not in the Great Depression. So, maybe what's going on is more like the 60's, where as someone said in the doc Berkeley in the 60s, "it felt like a revolution, it wasn't, but it felt like one."
The whole country in the 1930's was ready for a fundamental change, except the one percent, and FDR brought with him a Congress elected by the people to make change happen. But for the New Deal -- and it was a hard fight to get it through the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse -- there would have been actual pitchforks on Wall Street..
The 60's were nothing like that. The country was thoroughly divided on Vietnam, on civil rights. It took courage from the top to act morally. If LBJ did act morally on civil rights, he also had a supportive Supreme Court, and his actions in Vietnam were genocide.
Is Hillary LBJ in a pantsuit, as P.J. O'Rourke has charged? Does she represent the Old Left, or a pro-war, pro-Wall Street, pro-CIA realpolitiker? In that case, there's no moral argument for supporting her, even though, as with rejecting Hubert Humphrey over the war, the result will absolutely be someone less acceptable.
Look at the government Bernie will take leadership of. A Republican-controlled Congress, a reactionary Supreme Court, a country split down the middle between outrage at income inequality and fear of terrorists and immigrants. Can you see the gridlock and the decades of bemoaning the one term socialist?
Are we willing to stand up for a New Deal? To run and elect some sort of Congress that will support not just in four years but over a 40 year run, a vision of America based on broad opportunity and national purpose? If we elect Bernie, please realize that's not enough, and the backlash will be tremendous if the fundamentals are not built to attack the corrupt nature of the system. So, the burden will be on us -- on all our 25-year-olds, to run for the House, for kids to vote, to reshape the makeup of Politics -- and to make these progressive ideas centrist ideas so America can in fact educate, innovate, and prosper.