Thursday, January 20, 2005

It's the Secular Equivalent of Prayer and Fasting. (And Lamenting. I Forgot Lamenting.)

Today we greet the inauguration of our maximum leader by "not spending a damn dime." Today we talk trash to power: Include me out.

It's not a futile gesture. A gesture is just a gesture, no more than that and very hard to be less. (See point three in the first definition.)

This is an act with its own intrinsic rewards. Not spending money might even remind us where money should be spent if we only stopped to think about it. Now that I am thinking about it, fasting actually would be a good idea, too. But too late for me. I've already had a bagel with peanut butter.

A stale bagel, not a new one, in our possession long enough to very nearly be considered a family heirloom.


mackdoggy said...

Who says it better than I.

....J.Michael Robertson said...

When Bush first learned of the project, he feigned indifference but then when he heard how I had embraced the cause and of the many who would be inspired by my example -- I, risking all and heedless of the cost -- he grew dark with fury and raising his fists called out, "Who will rid me of this troublesome blogger?"

He knows where I am.

....J.Michael Robertson said...

I let my emails pile up, but then I read them. We canceled a dinner engagement with a friend because it fell on “Don’t spend a dime day.” Afterwards, I explained why. He emailed:

No, I didn't guess it. I think it's a damn silly gesture, and I think the whole reaction of the losing side to the election is silly and childish, but, remember, I didn't bring any of this up. I never suspected that was your reason for cancelling and if I had, I would not have asked. I am trying to stay out of political discussions around here if I can, because, believe it or not, I feel just as strongly about the righteousness and justice of my side as you folks do about yours, and about the incompetence and inappropriateness of the other candidate as well, and what's the good of debating that? The election's over. I happen to be a red-state guy lost in a wilderness of lefties, and generally speaking I keep quiet about it, although your sense of humor sets you apart from most of them and I feel (relatively) safe in discussing these matters with you, not in a group, not in any group larger than you and me. And maybe we had better not do that. The Jan 20 spending moratorium passeth my understanding .

And I answered: Ah, the difficulty of discussing politics! The problem is that most political discussion is at, let's see, the wrong level of generality or philosophical focus. It should most profitably deal with specific things that might happen, which would at least require some plausible discussion of cause and effect -- how they might happen, what would be the long-term result if they did. Or it should expand to the *real* question: What is the nature of the species and why do you think that is so. At which point one may discover one another's unassailable premise, surrender to the fact it's hard to dislodge a premise, and talk about the logic will which one imagines its application to reality. My, that sounds like the working through of a work of like a book or something!!! As for the not spending of a dime, it was the pointlessness that appealed to me, that and the fact my older sister from rural Tennessee suggested it. There's liberals in the hollers. But it's not nice to do things with a wink, I know. As for bitterness in defeat, I acknowledge it's a comfortable bitterness for many of the comfortable upper middles who indulge in it. I don't much like most elites and being raised a lower middle, some days I hate just everybody. But I really do dislike George Bush and I really do think that I live in that comparatively small space of approximately one inch that describes the difference between the Dems and the Repubs. Hmm. It may well be two inches.... The question is to what degree does loud disdain produce a contrary effect. When I figure that out, I will *modulate.* Bay Wolf *awaits. Dean for DNC! Castro for Pope! Krishna for Christ!

Then I noticed he had sent a P.S. before I sent the response above:

The reason I try to stay out of political discussion with Bay Area
people is that I perceive a fundamental difference here in the way the
two sides look upon each other. The right simply believes that the
ideas of the left are wrong, counterproductive, insufficiently thought
out. When the right wins, we rejoice. When the left wins, we shrug
sadly and hope for better things in the years ahead. Period.

But the left, and please don't tell me that this is not so, because I
have had direct experience of it, believes that the ideas of the right
are EVIL, and that the right is, therefore, the party of demons. Thus
when the right wins an election, the left recoils in horror, seeks
therapy, stages protest marches, threatens to leave the country,
boycotts small merchants on inauguration day who probably vote left
themselves. And it backs away, appalled, making apotropaic signs, from
the person of anyone who professes the opposite beliefs.

I dislike being thought of as a demon. My political views were not
lightly arrived at, nor were they inherited (I started out voting for
Srevenson, then for Kennedy, and by 1980 had migrated to Reagan for what
seemed to me to be sufficient reasons.) I have had people shrink back
from me at parties as though I were Freddy Krueger. I have heard a
husband console his horrified wife, when she discovered she was at the
same dinner table as a Republican, by saying, "Think of it as
anthropology, dear." I see no benefit to myself in debating whether I
am or am not a demon, or whether I am an active supporter of devils. So
I just keep quiet among lefties, as I did at your party. I did not
inquire about the politics of the firemen who were measuring my vital
signs and you can be damn sure that I didn't tell them about mine. Nor
did I volunteer to the colonoscopist a couple of years ago that I had
voted for Bush. Intelligent self-preservation is what led me to vote
for Bush, and intelligent self-preservation keeps me from discussing
politics when I am about to be anesthetized.

So I replied to the P.S.:

Ah, a PS. Well, it is true that Nixon looks better every year, though I suppose some of his positions that I rather like in retrospect were tacking into the winds of the day. I am, of course, essentially a moderate, filled with self-loathing at my tendency to find nod and agree, a tendency partly because of personality and partly because often enough there is something to say for the other side. (Milton and Mill blahblahblah.) Nobody has ever called me a demon, though. As for knowing one, wow. Very cool. But seriously, I actually do fear the Christian right. We wuz raised among 'em and a lot of them are functionally stupid and a lot of them are mean. Now we shall see to what degree Bush's association with them was expedience or an expression of, well, as Browning had one of his monologists say, "Some there are God whispers in their ear. The rest can reason and welcome." Brrrr. BRRRRRR. And of course I hope there's duck on the menu!!!!