When Ebenezer Scrooge is confronted with the ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, and is shown that poor Tiny Tim is a goner, the old original 1%’r, ca. 1843, plaintively asks, “Are these the shadows of the things that will be, or are they shadows of things that may be, only?” From the Dickensian text of A Christmas Carol:
Still the Ghost pointed downward to the grave by which it stood.
“Men’s courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if persevered in, they must lead,” said Scrooge. “But if the courses be departed from, the ends will change. Say it is thus with what you show me!”
And in an epiphany in which he understands the changes that the visits of the three spirits have wrought in him, Scrooge exclaims:
“I am not the man I was. I will not be the man I must have been but for this intercourse. Why show me this, if I am past all hope! … I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach. Oh, tell me I may sponge away the writing on this stone!”
And of course in the happy ending we all know and love, old Scrooge bought a goose, gave Bob Cratchit his job back, and was relieved that Tiny Tim would live on. “God bless us everyone!”
And so we embark upon 2012, the year the ancient Mayan calendar declared was our last. In the spirit of full disclosure – and respecting the fact-driven nature of this publication – the Mayan prediction of 2012 being doomsday is totally apocryphal, an example of pop culture gone Foxian (as in viral Fox news – style disinformation); the December 21, 2012 “doomsday” indicator in the Mayan calendar merely reflects the end of a particular cycle, not the end of the world (at least, not like in the movie). This might all be a good laugh for the Mayans, had they not ended themselves in the 16th century, victims of some greedy corporatist 1-percenters, known as the Spanish conquistadores. It is uncertain whether the Mayans predicted their own demise.
But in many ways, as some of us more cynical progressives conjure up, Scrooge-style, disturbingly plausible horrifying scenarios via the Ghost of Election Yet To Come. We sometimes wake up screaming, foreseeing a de facto end of the world, (or at least of Middle Class America as we have known it since we liked Ike and Father Knew Best) every bit as devastating and cataclysmic as the Mayan calendar might have predicted. Up to now we have only gotten a preview. The worst is yet to come. Or the best, depending upon what side of Wall Street you tread.
Only this isn’t Dickensian fiction or the musings of ancient shamans.
Already the news of the retirement of the bluest dog of the blue dog Democrats, Ben Nelson, giving up his seat in Nebraska, is conjuring in doomsday visions; immediately the consensus among progressives is good riddance – but also that, automatically, his seat is going to a Republican, a real one this time, ’cause, you know, Nebraska is so bright red, like the U of N football team.
But if the absolution of Ebenezer Scrooge and the election of 2010 and the Arab spring and the Wisconsin summer and Herman Cain fall (pun intended) have taught as anything, it’s that we are in the middle of bizarro world.
There are 12 or so Democratic seats “up for grabs” in 2012. Are they, too, goners? With the propaganda of Fox and Frank Luntz, plus a lot of Koch and Rove dough, will the Republicans succeed in wrecking the economy in front of our faces – and blaming Obama for it, reaping ballot box gold?? If you listen to not just Hannity but half the pundits Chris Matthews puts up, it’s a done deal… never mind all the bizarro stuff going on.
So even if the Mayans weren’t really predicting a doomsday in 2012, we keep saying they did… so, do we make that happen? And what completes the Citizens United doomsday scenario more splendidly than a Republican-run Congress, Senate AND White House? No doubt the Mayans had in mind tsunamis or alien invasions, or at least the hand of an outer god, not destruction by our own ballot box (with a little help from Scott Walker and his merry band of vote suppressors).
But is it all written in stone, as Scrooge plaintively asked? Or is it something that MIGHT happen and could be avoided?
Can America get in touch with its inner Dickens and sing an upbeat Christmas carol? Can we buck the millennia and forestall the Mayan prediction we made up – and simply move to another cycle of benevolence and liberalism?
It is a puzzlement, and seems to come down to information. Or misinformation. And disinformation. Or no information at all.
There have been awakenings. The great right-wing overreach of several governors in 2011 definitely got people going, especially in Wisconsin. Yeah the sweep of 2010 was fun, aided by whining, disenchanted progressives staying away from the polls; that’ll teach Obama to give up on a public option and not arrest Dick Cheney. The “big government bums” were kicked out. The tea party spoke.
Then almost as soon as the Dick Armey dick army started to govern, or anti-govern, almost as quickly buyer’s remorse set in. I do NOT want this ugly sweater I got for Christmas. Dear God how fast can I return it?
John Kasich, the corporatist, oilest and former Fox blabbist got elected governor of Ohio and, like his pal Scott Walker and other ALEC adherents, wasted no time setting about dismantling the power of public service unions. And voters. But thanks to the bare knuckle quasi-fascism – perhaps a blessing in disguise – it soon became clear that people had figured out the tea party ethos was really just a Koch Brothers ethos. Not only was big government NOT staying out of our lives, it was kicking our asses.
So in Ohio, as happened in Wisconsin, the populace said, Scrooge style, “Holy shit! What did we do?? But, wait, we can change this!” And Ohio’s union busting law was repealed – sheer power of the people.
And then my joy was tempered when I saw a Presidential poll comes out in Ohio soon after the law was rescinded: Gingrich 43%, Obama 42%.
What is the matter these guys? Didn’t these guys just do a number on you, and you want MORE? It’s like Scrooge getting freaked by the ghost, and, instead of a reformation, he simply becomes nicer about firing Bob Cratchit.
Or is it “let’s prove the Mayans right”.
But rather than being moved by fiction or myth, more information was obviously required. Or desperate more measures that have been well used by Gandhi, by the civil rights freedom fighters — by our very own founding fathers who the right wing constitution shredders purport to revere so much.
And so there was “Occupy”. That was easily written off as latter day hippies, jealous of rich people. Until the cops started pepper spraying. That was violence, and that became news, and the movement got famous. Well, of course. It happens every time.
Overreach is the right wing addiction, and thus its weakness, and our lifeline.
But still we have the likes of Michael Moore declaring “this is not a partisan movement!!” And so the neo-Nader ethos started setting in. “They’re all the same!”
And so it goes. Is this the election that WILL BE, or can it be changed?
Is 2012 the year of doom, or is it just a misread of ancient hieroglyphics?
Like Ebenezer, we can take the power to shape our future. Is Ben Nelson’s seat automatically going red? Well aren’t there houses underwater in Nebraska? Don’t Republicans use Medicare and Medicaid in the Cornhusker State, and miss these programs if they are Ryanized? Are there not unemployed folks in dire need of benefit extensions in Johnny Carson’s home town?
Nobody’s happier to see Ben Nelson go than I. And there are a few others who should join him. But why not just replace his “D” with another one? We can occupy Nebraska, too, can we not? They voted in a faux Democrat before, because presumably liked some of his more liberal ideas. Never mind a REAL Republican, why can’t they elect a REAL Democrat?
It’s all about information: who’s really doing what to who, and who’s doing what FOR who? Who wasn’t born in Kenya and who was born at Goldman-Sachs? Who’s obscenely taxing who and who are paying themselves obscene bonuses? Who is protecting Medicare and who says they are but aren’t?
The world does not have to end in 2012 – read the Mayan calendar properly. And how big do the spirits of “elections past” and “elections yet to come” have to be to spook one into realizing” the Koch-driven world is serving us ill?
Who the hell knows? All I know it’s in our hands to preach and do and work and fight.
And listen to Tiny Tim: “God bless us, everyone.”
Happy New Year.
Valley Dems United Newsletter, Margie Murray, Editor