…Abraham Lincoln. That’s the missing part of the and also…Abraham Lincoln.
There, you don’t even have to read this now; I answered the implied question in the headline. (Yeah, I’m sure the big picture of Abraham Lincoln wasn’t a clue.)
A while back I thought that I would blog about U.S. politics here on Webshoo.com and on stephensacco.com.
This idea was not only bad but useless and also depressing. I forgot not only how nasty presidential campaigns can be but also how trivial. Nothing new is ever going to be said when people are looking at each other like boxers in the ring waiting for the other one to give them the opening to pummel them.
Even the words we used to describe the debate (please see numerous references to “Romney was aggressive” and “Obama fought back” in the second
round debate) were better suited to a blood sport.
Sorry for making y’all relive this. And yes, I’m frowning on it but also think it has always been this way (to varying degrees) and it will be forever thus. We complaint and complaint about it but we also (myself included, definitely) continually participate in this ritual as well. It gets tiring, however.
So this is why my idea to add to the noise and the general feeling of people are being shouted at from every angle wasn’t great…well, was just plain bad, in fact.
But here’s what I think you aught to consider:
- There are not enough jobs, particularly for young people.
- The jobs there are do not pay enough to perpetuate a large middle-class as before because of stagnating wages over the last 30 years and rise in the cost of necessities like housing, food, health care and education.
- This problem exists in nearly every market democracy from the Americas to Europe.
- Nobody — from a policy perspective — knows quite what to do about this.
Almost everything else compared to this — including the deficit that people in the U.S. are so concerned about — are ancillary matters. Really, the only halfway plausible solution is for everybody to become an entrepreneur. This has worked for some.
Instead of Huey Long’s promise of “every man a king” — a fairly good summing up of American democracy, by the way, particularly when applied to Homer Simpson — now it’s every person an IPO, CEO and independent contractor.
The problem is this is not going to work for everybody. We are debating how we will manage the crisis rather than how we will solve it.
That, of course, brings me to Abraham Lincoln. O.K., perhaps the logic was a little hard to follow. Bear with me.
First off, when Lincoln was younger, he apparently was a vampire hunter. Who knew? But I’m referring to the recently release multi-Oscar-nominated Steven-Spielberg-directed Tony Kushner-written Daniel Day-Lewis- starring Lincoln.
While much has been made about Django Unchained and Lincoln’s approach to slavery, I think there is another point to be made.
Surely, I’m not the first person to notice that the abolition of slavery (a noble cause indeed) wasn’t quite the subject of Lincoln. It’s not much of a political statement to say that slavery was bad. It’s taken humanity a while but we all basically agree on this one. (Not that we have eliminated it by any means, there is still a slave trade but now it’s a criminal slave trade.)
Nor does Lincoln poignantly illustrate the horrors of slavery as he did for the holocaust in Schindler’s List, Django might be said to do a better job of that.
While Hannah Arendt famously used the phrase “the banality of evil” to describe the trail of Nazi Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem, Lincoln could fairly be described as a dramatization of the “banality of good.” That is the backstage doing, the political vanities, the bribery and shenanigans that gets legislation passed. Sure, the type of legislation gave the film its dramatic heft.
The film, however, could have very well been about President Obama’s efforts to pass the Affordable Care Act of 2010 (i.e., Obamacare) or the efforts to get federal funds to rebuild a bridge in Alaska.
Just because young men are dieing in a bloody civil war as old men debate doesn’t change much. It’s a film for our time but perhaps in not quite the way the filmmaker intended.
So this is the lesson, I think. The problems are real. The process is agonizing. But that’s all we got.