By Ronald Glenn
Notes From the Conservative Underground is an ongoing section here at America’s Right, featuring the written manifestation of Ron Glenn’s observations on the conservative movement, gleaned from sources found everywhere between short-wave radio to mainstream commentary, between random discourse with concerned everyday Americans to planned discussions with people and officials plugged into grassroots organizations nationwide.
For Better or Worse
In the aftermath of Michael Jackson’s death, it should come as no surprise that there are those in the American Public that deny any weirdness, drug use, or criminal behavior on his part in his fifty years of life. Since the presidency of John F. Kennedy, adoring crowds of followers have also refused to hear anything bad about their political idols. It is, actually, a rather extraordinary list of presidents and indiscretions:
- John Kennedy – Do you have enough fingers and toes to count the mistresses?
- Lyndon Johnson — The man who truly began the notion that a politician leaves public office richer than he entered it. Not to mention the War on Poverty.
- Richard Nixon — Where should I begin?
- Jimmy Carter — A nation can only achieve greatness, after all, when it is led by a depressed peanut farmer. (Note: I did not forget Gerald Ford, whose number one sin was being so bad as to get Carter elected.)
- Ronald Reagan — As great as some people say he was, he really let his cronies get away with way too much. He also started the idea that deficits don’t matter.
- George H.W. Bush — He lost to Bill Clinton. And more than anyone, he began the battle between religious and fiscal conservatives.
- Bill Clinton — The Democrats apparently wanted someone who could be loathed even more than Richard Nixon. The Republicans were so dedicated to removing Bill Clinton from office, they ran Bob Dole against him. And people on both sides of the aisle still can’t look at a cigar the same way.
- George W. Bush — He has already being considered as the worst president in American history. Besides being hated by the political left for even drawing breath, he admitted to abandoning his free-market principles at the end of his second term. As Jeff has said, under George W. Bush’s command, the Republican Party murdered the economy; the Democrats, however, have gone on a killing spree.
- Barack Obama — Read America’s Right and you decide.
These men all have an adoring public that will never abandon them as American icons. Some, of course, have more fans than others. A great deal of this loyalty, it can be said, has much to do with the endless appearances by politicians on television and, now, the Internet. Because of this exposure, because the American people can see these people for themselves, many believe in a way that they have personal knowledge of these politicians–and even these celebrities–in the sort of depth and degree that equals the knowledge they have of a relative or schoolmate. To examine the role of television, consider how many people know of the indiscretions of those who came before Kennedy.
Nevertheless, the public does not only judge a politician’s beliefs, they judge “character,” as if it is possible to look into a person’s soul. When they vote for one of these politicians, it is not so easy to admit a total failure in judgment.
Curiously, America also has another strange habit, seemingly in opposition to this kind of loyalty. America, see, turns on its leaders with equal fervor. It seems that a majority of leaders lose their followings after they are elected. It is so bad, in fact, that there is an old joke that after a politician has been in office for two years only ten percent of the public will admit voting for him.
It seems that politicians, as well as many celebrities, create extremes of love and hate. With regard to Michael Jackson, I know the vindictive dislike of the self-proclaimed King of Pop I personally heard was more than equal to the love shown for him by the news media.
What each one of us needs to do is look inside ourselves and figure out where this intense love or hatred comes from, particularly since indifference to politicians is becoming rarer by the day. This self-analysis will help you understand whether your opinions are rational and coherent. See yourself as those who oppose you see you and you will be able to defend your beliefs better. Blind loyalty creates blind opposition.
Speaking of learning from outside the mainstream, back in 1970–the evil, dark ages in America–there was an article by Alan W. Watts titled “Western Mythology: Its Dissolution and Transformation” which appears in Myths, Dreams and Religion by Joseph Campbell. (Myth, for Watts, does not mean “falsehood,” but rather the images that help us make sense out of the world.) This article gives a concise, at times cynical view of how westerners view the cosmos. In a nutshell, westerners think the universe is a monarchy. God is King of the Universe, and our job is to make the King happy.
This is rather obvious, but Watts says something else I think is more important: that westerners think in terms of a Creator and the created. For example, the average westerner would say that a tree is made out of wood, yet a tree is not made out of wood — a tree IS wood. This perspective of “creator and created” leads us to one of the central metaphors in the West, that we are little more than clay ready to be molded by God. Another way to say this is God is a potter and we are the clay.
Forty years later, America has begun to use this image as a description of how government operates. We hear how government wants to mold our children. It wants to remake society. This is why Obama is called a Marxist, since classical Marxism preached that human beings could be molded like clay by the will of the government. This carries over to the endless religious groups in America dedicated to “peace and justice.” From this point of view, humans are not born free, but instead are made into the citizens the government wants us to be. In that sense, it denies natural law. We are not God’s children, we are the children of the state.
Watts mentions this in conjunction with the “Death of God” theology which, contrary to how it is presented, does not mean God has literally died. That would be absurd. It means our idea of God has changed, that the God we believed in has died in our hearts. Manna, for instance, does not come from heaven; instead, we have food stamp cards. God, for instance, does not part the waters; instead, the government builds bridges. “God the Father” is now “Dad the government.”
California could become the General Motors of the American states. Rumors are flying that the Federal government will take over a bankrupt California as the model for its new brand of federalism. California, after all, has asked for it, and the rest of the nation, we are told, cannot let it collapse. Like GM, California is too big to fail.
The problem, however, is that cannot dismantle California and ship San Francisco to Brazil or Los Angeles to China. We are stuck with both. Berkeley as well.
Meanwhile, California is the ultimate testing ground, and its people the guinea pigs. Think about it. California has all the American problems the federal government claims to know how to fix with more federal government: A broken school system, a bankrupt health system, decreasing property values, an unstoppable tide of illegal immigration from over the border.
So, how well do you think the Federal government will do?
My leftist contacts tell me the election of Barack Obama has taken the air out of local liberal organizations. Once he got elected, the American left has simply felt it had nothing more to do. ACORN is receiving federal stimulus funds. Empathy is en route to the Supreme Court. Even the Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton seem to be running out of people to shake down since the Obama administration is doing it so well; the pair are likely hanging around a grieving Jackson family for lack of anything else to do.
The active left, however, says this is not true, but that instead this is the price one pays for their new brand of federalism. If everything comes from the top, the bottom has to merely wait for its rewards. On the other hand, the local conservatives groups have been energized. Hopefully, this will continue.
Ronald Glenn has worked in real estate and law for more than twenty years. He now works in Philadelphia, and lives outside the city with his wife. Ron has been writing for America’s Right since January 2009.