The Q at Parkside

(for those for whom the Parkside Q is their hometrain)

News and Nonsense from the Brooklyn neighborhood of Lefferts and environs, or more specifically a neighborhood once known as Melrose Park. Sometimes called Lefferts Gardens. Or Prospect-Lefferts Gardens. Or PLG. Or North Flatbush. Or Caledonia (west of Ocean). Or West Pigtown. Across From Park Slope. Under Crown Heights. Near Drummer's Grove. The Side of the Park With the McDonalds. Jackie Robinson Town. Home of Lefferts Manor. West Wingate. Near Kings County Hospital. Or if you're coming from the airport in taxi, maybe just Flatbush is best.

Monday, December 19, 2016

History Made Simpler Than It Ought To Be Allowed To Be

It's notoriously difficult to see one's historical moment in real time. When I see my own life and times in hindsight, I recognize a pattern. I've over or under appreciated the significance of personal and world events to such a degree that I find the process of self and cultural examination to be as much a sham as stock-picking or gourmet salt. Mostly, my experience has shown me that History is easier to understand with hindsight. Duh.

Ah but for a few votes here and there the anxiety of America's educated class could have been lessened ever-so-slightly for at least another couple years. The Presidency is, alas, Winner-Take-All. Or, as in this case, Take-No-Prisoners. From ten years, twenty years, a hundred years hence, it will all come flying into focus and they'll wonder why we couldn't see it at the time. The rise of the internet, then 9/11, then the War on Terror and its War on Us, the Depression of '08 and the Arab Spring through Charleston and #BLM, the election of a truly decent man who happened to be black followed by the election of a simian Oligarch who could not have been anything but white. Come to think of it, it all kinda relates to the Internet, which will rival the printing press and the wheel when the disembodied Brains discuss their ancestors in whatever way brains talk to one another when they have no bodies.

Humans are notoriously bad at predicting the future. We always see sunnier or gloomier outcomes, and that may be part of the human condition. We predict. And so we plan, we worry, we create industries called Insurance. At the risk of stepping into a very, very crowded field of Trumpian Inquiry, let me state that I am not capable of predicting any outcome for the next couple years, but I do know that the VERY FACT of uncertainty is the most troubling and anxiety-producing aspect of all.

You see...

It was always quite likely that a Republican would win the White House. That's what happens - one party, then the other, with uncanny frequency. It's easy to assume that Trump is something entirely other. He's not, really, just less "couth." He's part of the 25% of the electorate that's ALWAYS been fixin' for a fight, the resistance to evolving mainstream orthodoxy, which is, in the end, what much of the far right and the not-even-all-that-far right have always been, god love 'em or hate 'em. And they're not about to change. They're sickeningly slow to causes like civil rights, and to global warming and kale salad. The far and not-so-far right are an enormous part of the coalition that makes up the rightward half of our two party dynamic. And while much of the country and its mainstream media has tended to reside somewhere between what we call "the Fars" the edges on either end have always held considerable sway by the sheer passion of their causes and their devotion to "shaking things up."

Think about what happened this year. Bernie Sanders, the Old Cranky Socialist Jew from the Northeast, fired up the Hard Left and nearly took the mantle from the Standard Bearer. The Far Right, not to be outdone, showered all its Tea Party zeal onto a true and bonafide (and let's admit it now, charismatic in his way - he DID have a hit TV show after all) outsider, someone just as politically incorrect and racially unhinged as they. The middle 50% or so - those who generally championed the likes of Hilary and Jebichio - were horrified. But this has all played out so many countless times before, and yet we react as if its the first time that the D & R coalitions were defined and decried by and for a lack of respect for the mainstream. That's the whole point, or problem, depending on where you sit. Whether you create your coalition AFTER the election (as with a Parliamentary system) or BEFORE (our weird Republic), it IS a coalition. Until it breaks down, which is inevitable over the course of 4 or 8 years. A coalition only sees eye to eye while its fighting a common foe.

That is to say this is the REPUBLICAN'S PROBLEM. We must fight and we will. But they have created the monster and its their duty to control him. Think of how many Republicans ACTIVELY WORKED FOR TRUMP'S DEFEAT? #NeverTrump indeed, Even the former Presidents! Look at this list, it's like, cray cray in a good way. The Left is expected to fight the new Prez. But the GOP has an OBLIGATION to temper his worst undemocratic impulses. I believe they will, at least enough to hold the Union together til the next election.

And so, as happens after major upswings and downswings, a true 25 percenter gets elected. That is, not someone who falls along the Republocrat fault line. Obama was a 25 percenter (I dare you to disagree, though he was just over the line). Nixon was a 25 percenter.  Clinton and the Bushes and Johnson were Republocrats. FDR and Lincoln and Jackson and Teddy and Reagan were 25 percenters. Ike and Truman were Republocrats, and so on and so on.

Until the mainstream Ds and Rs come together and recognize their common cause, the 25 percenters will continue to shake things up. And is that always so bad? Right now, it seems insurmountably horrible. The end of the Republic. The souring of the dream. The beginning of the end.

Or is it...just another symptom of a truly phenomenal document called the Constitution, whose tattered edges have yet to show a tear? No one promised the Civil War wouldn't happen again, that much is true. But neither did anyone say the election of Trump can't and won't produce a next generation of leaders more capable and talented and compassionate than any we've ever seen. I'm counting on the latter, and will joyously revisit this Post when it comes to pass.

In the meantime, just keep fighting. We might even find common cause again, we from the middle to the left.


diak said...

What's too often left out of the left-right-center discussion is the real heart of the US electorate: the don't know, don't care, doesn't matter anyway, they're all the same, whatever, bloc. Somewhere between 42 and 44% of eligible voters didn't cast a ballot in 2016. Numbers that dwarf the totals of all the candidates. And this happened despite all we heard about the passion the major candidates inspired—albeit a lot of that passion was negative.
(We should also be aware that a small percentage of the no-shows were a result of newly passed voter restrictions and we know which major party pushed heavily for those, don't we?)
But bottom line, the big winner once again, was "abstain."

As far as your other points, I wish I shared your optimism, but I can't find any reason to...

Clarkson FlatBed said...

There is little appetite for peace, love and understanding, I'll give you that.

If the non-suppressed voters show no interest in voting, how certain can you be that their votes would align with your world-view? They've already made it fairly clear they want nothing to do with any of it, yes? I'm not sure we're helped by forcing the apathetic to vote, though I keep being told that wider participation means the Left wins. But what of Trump's crazy numbers from middle America? Clearly they were jazzed.

It's a question of whose vote is suppressed, and whose vote gets stirred or riled into action, and that is ultimately why it's such a cynical game. And it's probably why true consensus candidates get no traction.

diak said...

I think the idea that Trump got "crazy numbers from middle America" is debatable. (Although he sure seems to have gotten a large number of the crazies.) As I understand it, Trump's vote totals were very much like Mitt Romney's. Maybe not the same demographics but largely the same count. So isn't it plausible to argue that Trump's win—the difference between 2012 and 2016— is attributable to Democratic no-shows?
A couple of percentage points the other way in a few key states and the big story might be speculation about who'll be designing the president's inauguration dress...

Mags PLG said...

Honey Badger on Fenimore I. New restaurant. Opened this week. Looks fantastic. Check it out!

Anonymous said...

What is this restaurant you speak of?