Saturday, December 17, 2016

Once upon a time... 

Fairy tales all seem to start with that line.  It refers to a time and place, long ago, where magical things happened.  There were princesses and princes, unicorns, fairy godmothers, and no one ever pooped or committed truly bloody murders (unless you were unfortunate enough to be in a real Grimm fairy tale).  And of course we have the Disney folks to clean it up even more for us.

But there's a new Once Upon a Time on the block, and it is so chockablock filled with fantasy as to be unbelievable.  It's the once upon a time of the neo-Nazis and racists who have been given a voice and allowed to come out into the sunlight of public scrutiny.  And while many of us find it unbelievable, the worst part of this fantasy is how many people really do believe it.

It's easy to long for the '50s in America.  Daddy Eisenhower was President, and he was a master at conveying the "don't worry, Daddy will protect you" mythos to soothe a war-weary populace.  And in case you got a little too relaxed he would occasionally remind you that the government was working overtime to protect you from the big bad Communist menace.  So we obediently hid under our desks, as if that would protect us from nuclear fallout.  We drove lots of cars, exploited the land for all we could (because after all they told us in school that America had unlimited natural resources -- yes, they did), and we bought televisions, microwave ovens, and tv dinners on aluminum plates.  Life was good.

Unless you were Black.  Or a woman with some sense that there should be something better awaiting you than marriage and children and the kitchen.  Or a gay person trembling in your closet terrified that you would be found out and tossed out on your own.  For the minorities, the marginalized, the '50s were just more of the same crap,  The only thing that had changed was the weapons were bigger and more efficient, the war machine was more likely to scoop you up and send you off to foreign lands to fight an enemy about whom you knew nothing.  This happened in Korea and again in Vietnam -- hundreds of young Black men sent off to die while White males with "connections" and no desire to die in the name of patriotism got multiple deferments.  And then there were the thousands of White males who were drafted because their grades were low, or because they believed that they were defending us against an enemy without bounds or morality.  It would be many years later that so many discovered their common humanity with that enemy.  Many never did. 

But the fantasy was firmly in place.  Once Upon a Time...  not sure when, there were no big bad Communists trying to take over the world. And if we all just fed our young people, willingly or by draft, into the hoppers of the war machine we would defeat the red menace, drive them away, and all would be as it once was.

This is the world that the alt.right wants to restore:  a time when America was great because it was White, unregulated, religious, and powerful; a time when women knew their place, men ruled the roost at home and at work, and soldiers dominated the political landscape.  They would actually like to go back even farther, to a time when unions did not exist, and companies could exploit workers as much as they pleased. The fantasy is that without the union and those onerous dues, the workers would be cared for by big daddy.  The company store seems like a good idea to many of them.  And why not?  We have a present economy where people are working their asses off, sometimes at 2 or even 3 jobs, and still having a hard time putting food on the table.  Who cares if you owe your soul to the company store if it provides you with clothing and food?

I'm approaching 74. I'm living solely on Social Security because some rich pig decided to play around with the pension funds of a bunch of people. That makes me one of the really vulnerable, and it's not a great place to be these days.  The Once Upon a Time folks convinced a whole lot of people like me, including younger working ones who struggle and struggle, that they would be better off with a bunch of rich, dispassionate, narcissistic egos in charge of things.  They did it by thumbing their noses at the government which frankly wasn't doing much of anything for those folks.  And the Democrats failed to listen, to see what motivated the voters in the states that handed Trump the election.  We Democrats like to crow that Clinton won the election and Trump won the College.  While that may be true, it begs the question of what happens to the poorly educated, tired, hungry schmoes in the Red States who are only now beginning to realize they have once again been royally screwed.

No solutions here, folks.  No answers to the big questions.  Just some observations from a tired and more a little scared old woman.