True Blue DoorTrue Blue Door's Journal
Having watched the Satanic shitshow that is the Republican Party over the years, one thing is certain when it comes to presidential primaries: There are two classes of candidate - Inner Party and Outer Party, like in Orwell - and Inner Party always defeats Outer Party for a nomination. Outer Party candidates are only nominated when an Inner Party candidate fails to run, which is typically when the wisdom of the GOP's clearest-eyed internal strategists suggests victory is unlikely.
The distinction between Inner and Outer is not a rigorously defined one, but is clear in context. Despite the adulation heaped on him in retrospect, Ronald Reagan was an Outer Party candidate - which is why he was only able to obtain the nomination in the midst of general Republican disarray still in the shadow of the Nixon era. It's also why he was basically an empty suit whose administration did whatever it wanted with or without him, while he just wallowed in the acting gig of pretending to be a leader.
His Vice President, George HW Bush, however, was profoundly Inner Party, and exemplified some of the factors that usually play into it: Old Money, deep family connections with crime and radical right-wing politics going back generations, intimate military and intelligence connections, and the most effective of all conservative qualities - the patient acquisition of real power, both in public and in the background.
To call HW and his crowd (including Dick Cheney) "sinister" would be an understatement. From the very beginning, they effectively orchestrated Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait, dropping back-channel hints at every opportunity that the United States had no interest in preserving the independence of Kuwait, and would not strongly intervene if - as Hussein was strongly hinting - an Iraqi annexation were to take place. Bush et al had deep knowledge of Saddam Hussein from a long-term intelligence relationship during the Iran-Iraq War, and knew he aspired to possess Kuwaiti oil fields, and knew the likely significance of his inquiring about the US disposition to Iraq/Kuwait relations.
An Iraqi invasion of Kuwait was almost certainly the desired result of the responses to these inquiries, hoping to encourage action that could serve as a justification for massive intervention. To the mind of George HW Bush, raised in WW2-era politics, such a war would definitely secure him a second term. The only problem was that it was too successful, ending too soon, and he overestimated the attention span of an American public now much younger than himself while underestimating the charms of a smooth-talking liberal-esque Southerner.
Despite the initial sense that Bill Clinton was a lightweight who had scored a fluke win, these interests - with their deep knowledge of power - were soon forced to respect his ability to elude their tactics, and had failed by 1996 to create any halfway plausible pretext either for running against him or trying to impeach him. As usually happens in that case, the field was ceded to an Outer Party candidate who, despite his long career in the Senate, was never himself a web-weaver in terms of power.
The plan by 1994 was for Jeb Bush to become Governor of Florida and then run for President in 2000 and resume his father's legacy. The full force of the media, of industry, and of his father's military, intelligence, and judicial associates would back him full-throatedly and with no moral or legal holds barred once the presidential election came around. However, that plan was postponed when Jeb lost the 1994 race, and only gained the Governor's office in 1998, making 2000 premature. But his brother George W. won the Texas Governorship in 1994, putting him on the track to fulfill this roll.
Despite having no credentials or rational argument whatsoever to become Governor of Texas, and no argument against his opponent, the full force of the Bush family machine steamrolled popular Democratic Governor Ann Richards out of office and placed GW in position for the 2000 presidential election. Then, despite having done basically nothing but smirk at executions and create a third-world educational system as Governor of Texas, the Bush family machine then steamrolled all other primary candidates in 2000, including highly popular Outer Party Senator John McCain. It then infamously secured Bush the Presidency through a vast web of criminal acts (including actions by his brother Jeb as Governor of Florida), culminating in a lawless Supreme Court decision arbitrarily declaring him the winner of an election he had plainly lost.
The rest of the GW Bush saga is a long, ugly, and horrifying story that is outside the scope of this discussion, but suffice it to say that the Bush family machine became an effective authoritarian monarchy during this period of time, and that the US Constitution was more or less interrupted from 2001 to 2009. Having nearly destroyed the US economy and all other institutions, the Inner Party retreated into the shadows to count its vast trove of stolen money and plan its next moves, but ceded the political field to its erstwhile Outer Party favorite, John McCain, who was given only a part of the machine support that George W. had received.
By 2012, the Inner Party once again knew it had no foundation from which to go after the Democratic incumbant, seeing clearly that Barack Obama was untouchable given simple demographic math. Jeb Bush, despite having waited a dozen years longer than the original plan, opted to wait longer. Instead, a self-funded billionaire was nominated - one whose particulars placed him somewhere on the inner edge of the Outer Party, but whose money could never buy him the level or depth of power network that the Bushes had inherited.
Now, however, Jeb Bush is running. So make no mistake about it that he will be the Republican nominee for President, regardless of whoever else runs. The Republican Party is effectively Bush family property. The Republican electorate simply have no say in the matter. None whatsoever. Jeb Bush will be the Republican nominee, and the full force of the media, the markets, the courts, and if necessary, uglier elements will be brought to bear to see him inherit "his" more important family property, the White House.
The point is, do not be distracted by the clown show. Trump is nothing. Rubio is nothing. Cruz is nothing. Keep your eye fixed on Jeb Bush, and attack every move he makes and every word he says, at every opportunity. And moreover, make sure we have the right candidate to mount the only kind of campaign that can defeat people like him: A popular electoral uprising by an impassioned electorate determined to see a better future, immune to propaganda and too numerous to be undermined by any form of fuckery with the slightest chance of succeeding.
I just watched a very interesting Chilean film, No (2012), about the highly unusual (and actually pretty funny) circumstances under which fascist dictator Augusto Pinochet was peacefully driven from power.
Since it's a matter of history, I can't be accused of Spoilers for explaining: After decades of terrorist dictatorship, Pinochet yielded to international pressure for a plebiscite on remaining in power, with the two votes being Yes (to let him stay in power) or No, requiring him to leave. He, and everyone else, expected it to be a cakewalk for him - to be a formality that he could easily win even in a fair vote.
What he didn't count on was an advertising professional creating a Don Draper-worthy campaign for the No position full of Hollywood pizzazz and catchy entertainment. The ultimate result in favor of No shocked Chile and the world, and led gradually to the restoration of Chilean democracy.
It's a very profound, epic story. While the movie is interesting enough on its own merits, it's too limited for the scope of the theme. So while I usually hate it when foreign movies are adapted for wider audiences (i.e., usually dumbed down), in this case I think there's a strong argument that the story could be told more comprehensively and more powerfully.
"No" is somewhat matter-of-fact, and prefers to focus on the quirkiness of the intimate events surrounding this one ad guy. I think it could be done more profoundly - but also with stronger emphasis on the humor and glorious absurdity of it (think of a tone like "The Pentagon Wars," but positive).
Anyway, I recommend "No" on its own merits, but if you watch it, you'll see that it has a lot of potential.
Pass a law requiring anti-psychotic medication be added to donut batter.
Imagine a scenario: Two people are being threatened with disciplinary action by an authority figure.
One gets angry, whiny, says things like "It's not fair! I didn't do anything wrong! Come on, please don't do this!"
The other is calm, powerful, assertive, says something like, "Okay, let me be clear: You have not explained where any of this is coming from. You simply assert things that are not true, and then declare what you intend to do without seeking any kind of input on my part. This is amazingly disrespectful and unconstructive. I don't know what you hope to accomplish, but this is not the way to go about it. Now, I would like to help you resolve this if I can, but first I need you to be clear about what is going on here."
What is the key difference in the two? The first one concedes authority, and is plaintive - the second one competes for authority, and is demanding without breaching decorum. Authority is not power - it does not require a rank, position, badge, title, or anything other than a conscious decision to seize and occupy the moral and social high ground. Nonetheless, people respond to it, even when they assume themselves to be in authority.
Regardless of how any given confrontation goes, the person with official authority will be more hesitant to confront an authoritative person again than a whiny, childish, plaintive one, because the latter's complaints carry no weight of any kind while the former is obtrusive precisely because they're scrupulously correct. The latter advertises their weakness and passively requests what they want, while the former advertises their strength and seizes control of the conversation.
Even if an authority figure gets pissy at the challenge and just brings down a hammer, they will be irritated and disquieted by the experience, and thus not happy about the prospect of having to do it again. The more they do it, the weaker they look, and they know that if they're remotely competent. Every successful activist in history has been of the authoritative style - Gandhi and MLK being the most obvious examples. They did not try to whine their way to better treatment like a teenager complaining to their parents - they simply took upon themselves the moral authority that the political authorities were failing to meet.
It seems to me there are far too many of the whiny, complaining behaviors in activism - too many attitudes that are tailor-made to be ignored - and not enough of the authoritative, agenda-setting behaviors.
Too many activists are just against things, and have no alternative ideas in the arenas in which they act. They might have the vague outlines of alternatives left implicit, but the alternatives are not treated as a priority - they remain purely in sketch, treated like an irrelevancy, because they are so certain of never being in a position to have to implement them. And people with this attitude act accordingly, in a self-fulfilling prophecy of powerlessness. It's just an endless cycle of "That's not fair, mom!" complaining, which never works and yet they never get tired of it either.
We see a large-scale example of this problem when we compare the Civil Rights movement with the Occupy movement: Concrete objectives with specific policy demands vs. nebulous rhetoric with purely cultural, non-specific goals. One weathered all storms, endured constant violence, inspired millions, and braved terrorist attacks against them over years; the other dissipated like fog in a sudden wind at the first contact with state force. One exercised authority despite having no power, the other preferred to remain in an adolescent state of complaint as a form of entertainment. That difference in attitude makes the vast divergence in their respective impacts easy to understand.
The results are not hard to foresee: People who complain about the composition of the Democratic Party while refusing to participate in primaries to change it; people who complain about the lack of legislative action (which they invariably blame on Obama), while failing to deliver Democratic majorities in Congress; who complain about foreign policies they offer no alternative to; moaning into the clear blue sky about the mountains of shit piled around them because they can't be bothered to work a shovel. Asking to be ignored, being obliged, and then complaining about it.
On the list of things important to activism, expressing yourself is dead last. Your feelings are the absolute lowest priority in being an effective citizen, and anyone who thinks any part of a politician's job is to be your therapist or surrogate parent is incapable of being anything other than totally irrelevant. What matters is knowing what's true and saying what needs to be said to improve the state of affairs; to seize authority for your position such that you can set the agenda and force the other side into a reactionary posture; and to put gravity on your side rather than constantly fighting it so that you can indulge in fantasies of being a rebel.
Progressives are not rebels and never were. We represent knowledge, truth, and compassion, all of which are the absolute bedrock of genuine authority. When you treat these fundamental values as radical, you do the work of their enemies. Everyone already knows we're right. But it's a latent knowledge - they have to be reminded of it. They have to see the authority of your ideas and values demonstrated in action, not merely hinted at in passive-aggressive complaining about their polar opposites. And the first step toward that is to prove that you actually consider your views authoritative, and not merely opinions to be won or defeated by who shrieks the loudest.
You need no permission to see that the sky is blue and act accordingly.
Profile InformationName: Brian
Hometown: Southern California
Member since: Mon Oct 28, 2013, 04:48 PM
Number of posts: 2,969