Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Why I May Yet Die in a Bad Place

I aggregate a handful of favorite political blogs. They are my liberal touchstones, my lamps in the night, my whatever gets me through the night. One of them -- I've already forgotten which one; I race through them in a blur of hope and fury -- pointed me toward an article by the supposed "reliable pundit" Charlie Cook in which he notes that political watchers over 40 are more optimistic about how the Dems will do this fall than political watchers who are under 40.

I won't go into his reasons. My point is simply that, as emphatically over 40 as I am, I side with the boys and girls in this instance. I don't have that much confidence that the Dems will do well, certainly not well enough to take back the House. Indeed, I always have a little feather of dread tickling away. I am thinking that given the fact that there is a hard core of Americans, maybe three out of ten, who self-describe as born-again Christians and who support George Bush with virtual unanimity, well, you add to them those American voters who are consumed with fear and those American voters who are willfully ignorant (and don't forget the rich and/or cruel), well, you just might get our voting our way into something very like a fascist theocracy, even if the margin is 51-49 or 52-48 (or, if the Supreme Court is feeling frisky, 49-51).

You might get ChristoFascism.

I fear this down in my bones. I cannot assign a probability to it. It is the nature of fear to elude computations of probability.

I fear it because I was once a ChristoFascist. What it is is that I Remember Mama, and I Remember Daddy. It's all anecdotal, but at the end of the day life is anecdotal, though the scientists have the good sense to measure and organize those anecdotes into some semblance of reality.

By any standard of superficial decency and everyday politeness, my parents were nice people. They were benign, not perfect on race but better than my friends' parents, not harsh, not brutal, pretty haphazard in keeping an eye on what we kids did or didn't do, which gave us some freedom, more probably than I chose to exercise.

But when I think about them today as they were then, the memory is frightening. If my father were alive -- Mistah Jimmy, he dead -- and my mother were in possession of even a sliver of her former faculties, they would be powerful George Bush supporters. They would be serene in the face of war and grasping oligarchy because they would consider it just good common sense that you should vote for a good Christian man like George Bush.

And if I tried to make an argument with them on their own terms -- more fool I, of course -- they would not be interested in any of my arguments why Bush is not a good Christian man because I am not a good Christian man.

I was a good Christian boy, though. I hated Kennedy the Catholic because, as my dad explained, the Catholics were stockpiling guns in the basement of their churches. JFK flew into Roanoke, Virginia, in the fall of 1960, and we were let out of school and bussed to the airport rally as a civics experience and I wore a Nixon button as big as a pie plate.

Oh my. I remember how secure I felt as a child, being right, knowing better, not having to figure anything out. I was so sweet, and so very arrogant.

I think these thoughts because I just stumbled across a line from Robert Browning I've been looking for for years. It's from "Abt Vogler," which is a dramatic monologue, and thus we take such speeches as manifestations of character, not necessarily as Browning's own idea. But that is not the point. I was raised by people to whom it was mantra, anthem and marching orders.

But God has a few of us whom He whispers in the ear;
The rest may reason and welcome:

Or to update the sentiment:

Reason away, bitches.

You are so going down. God said so. I think He said so.

Or maybe it was just a ringing in my ears.

Nah, it was God.

1 comment:

B. Lundigan said...

Don't be so hard on your parents. You seem happy with how you turned out in spite of them. As for the Republicans, the pendulum has a way of swinging back, don't you think?