Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Long eight years

By the year 2000 I had become very distanced from party politics and ideology that once were unreally important and meaningful for me. I had ended up - after all the emotional upheavals and dramatic shifts - liberal, vaguely centre left, ironically quite in bearing with my personal background and the positions that I had originally begun with. But I was very certainly not much interested in concrete centre left politics and parties. I believed that all that was relatively irrelevant and distasteful. I simply - comfortably - assumed that though unpleasant things constantly occurred and unpleasant parties and politicians kept winning offices that social progress would nevertheless continue, not steadily, not overtly but all the while. I also believed that party politics were largely irrelevant to that progress, that the political process would eventually mirror this grassroots advance, maybe not satisfactorily or gratifyingly but nevertheless things would get better, even if gradually, even if messily.

It took the administration of George W. Bush to persuade me otherwise. Suddenly I was re-politized, at times even mesmerized by the spectacular shipwreck of the American (and to a large degree, Western) political process. I’m no anti-American – I have been a steady liberal cold warrior (having doubts only now) and have seen the American leadership and power as essential for our Western civilization and its liberal and humanistic values. I had just not realized how far the corruption had gone, how quickly the enlightenment values of the American revolution were dissipating and the society and politics getting more plutocratic, the citizens more distanced from elite politics and irrational fundamentalism and anti-empirism growing stronger. These eight years have certainly been an education to all of us. Perhaps today will finally mark the turn of the tide. Much is resting on a single, politically enigmatic, relatively inexperienced person faced with powerful structural counterforces and a national moral – and financial – bankruptcy. A task not to be envied.

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