Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Intermezzo Americana?

Maybe some of us, many even, will sleep a little better tonight. Just that tad more restfully. It's been a good day. Some big symbolic changes.

But what we mustn't do is think we can turn off the alarm clock. Nor turn it back. Because we've had our wake up call and now, somewhat unusually, our world has a second chance, of sorts.
But for others, the same desperate fears and frustrations that led to their giving all their hopes and trust to a snarling sociopath grip their hearts and minds tonight as they have for years, decades, whole lives. We may condemn them for their bad choice, laugh and sneer at their credulity, denounce their apparent bigotry. 
Except, one in five of them would have voted for Bernie if the Democrats had run him, and many more were originally part of the New Deal Coalition targeted by Reagan and dismissed as deplorables by both Clintons. Many were Latin Americans. And many more than last time were black.
They will still be there in four years. Will they still be angry, still afraid? Still as many?
The people who destroyed their worlds, closed their factories, poisoned their water, sent their kids to desert wars and shut down their futures - they are as much in the Oval Office tonight as they were four years and forty years ago. They promise to listen more, to heal better and certainly progressive voices are louder than before. 
Yet they have always promised so, and power is seductive and elites so terribly good at absorbing real challenges. It's not conspiracies or cults; it's just what happens when authority is based on rank and hierarchy, greased of course by filthy lucre. It has been so ever since we were persuaded to give our grain to the priests to store in the temples. And then the priests gave the grain to soldiers and made themselves into kings and emperors and built palaces and capitols. Primus inter pares
But senators need tribunes to call time on their deeds. Symbols need to be more than themselves. You don't "speak truth to power". You tear it down and share it out. Otherwise, nothing ultimately changes until the all that is left to make it happen is the whim of the mob and the rumble of the tumbril. Biden quoted Kennedy today but not to the extent of repeating his not particularly radical but still prescient predecessor's warning that "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."
So the monster is gone. And perhaps we can sleep. But not too deeply or too long. 
The world may have a second chance, but it only gets one wake up call.
And we've just had it.