Does anybody else feel as if the whole country is collapsing around us?
I mean, I’m not an apocalypse fan. I remember when Ronald Reagan was elected and we had a big meeting at the Connecticut Citizen Action Group, where I worked, and a lot of people were on the edge of a serious panic, and Miles Rapoport, the staff director, told us all to calm down: the organization, and our work, would survive. So would the nation. I spent a lot of time with serious anarchist types in the 1980s, and I never really bought the notion that the revolution was at hand (alas, it was not) or that the United States of America and the corporate world order were on the brink of collapse (alas, again).
I think I slept through the great Harmonic Convergence on Aug. 17, 1987 (“the point at which the counterspin of history finally comes to a momentary halt”) and I’m not terribly concerned about the Mayan calendar.
But I’m getting so I wake up every morning these days asking myself exactly what the fuck is going on.
I called my old friend Calvin Welch the other day to talk about the San Francisco mayor’s race, and when I asked him how he was doing, he told me: “Well, other than the fact that America is falling apart everywhere I look, I’m doing fine.” And he’s not any crazier than me.
It’s funny. I never felt as nervous about the state of the nation under Reagan or Bush as I’m feeling right now under President Obama. And I wasn’t as scared about California when Arnold Schwarzenegger was governor as I am now, with Jerry Brown in charge.
Not that Reagan and Bush weren’t far, far worse, or that Brown isn’t doing a decent job, all thing considered. But when our folks are in charge — decent, smart folks who, for all their flaws, have essentially decent ideas about politics and humanity — and they can’t seem to make anything better … I guess that’s when I start to wonder if anyone can.
I’m not one to make sweeping generalizations (well, not usually), but in 2011, the country, and the state, are being run by a handful of bullies. They’re wrecking the economy, wrecking the schools, wrecking the future — and nobody seems to be able to stand up to them. And even this diehard optimist is starting to wonder when it will ever end.