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Are you insane, Crazy Horse?  You're proud of all this, you say?  But the Germans think we're crazy and the Saudi's are laughing at us?  And people are going without work and the economy is crashing?  Surely, sir, the shutdown has driven you MAD!  

No.  And let me explain why.  

What you all see - standing close to the flame of events - as a disaster and a great failure, I, as a historian, see as the beginning of the final battle in the great American Civil War that began in June of 1776 when Thomas Jefferson attempted to condemn slavery in the Declaration of Indepedence.  Jefferson, himself a slave owner, knew that no nation could proclaim itself the bastion of freedom so long as it held its fellows in bondage.  Jefferson saw slavery as a yoke around our collective national necks - a prison we all shared.  But he was shouted down by his fellow Southerners.  Slavery was called a "necessary evil" that must persist.  And thus Jefferson and his supporters compromised.  Within a generation slavery, as it spread to the cotton fields of the South, would become known as a "positive good" by the likes of John C. Calhoun and his States Rights supporters.  

From the very beginning American conservatives have always demanded the status quo - and in the case of our nation, that status quo is a power structure designed to support the supremacy of elite white males.

EVERY major political crisis in the nation's history has been about the same thing: maintaining that same status quo; that power structure.  

The Nullification Crisis, the Civil War, Jim Crow, Universal Suffrage, end of the Gold Standard, the New Deal, the Great Society, on and on.  In each great American political fight, regardless of party affiliation, the conservatives have demanded a continuance of a power structure that favors the VERY MEN whom Jefferson himself was forced to submit to in 1776.  

But which side has won ALL of those battles?  Every time it has been the liberals.  The people who wanted more enfranchisement, not less.  More freedom for all, not less.  More rights for all, not less.  Mor resources shared with the working class, not fewer.  More votes, not less.  More democracy, not less.  

American conservatives have been on the wrong side of history from the very start and today that is no different.  They may win a few skirmishes here and there, but they can't win the war - because their philosophy goes against the forward arrow of American history.  We have steadily - in fits and stops - moved toward a bigger, inclusive more liberal society, by force of change and greater diversity.  And the polls show that, NOW, today that's what people want.  You cannot fight the future.

Look at your own lifetime.  I was born in 1974.  If you'd asked me, when I turned 19, if we'd have legalized gay marriage in a third of the states and a black president named Hussein the day I turned 39 I would have laughed in your face.  If you'd asked me if a woman was leading a white man from New Jersey in the polling for POTUS I'd have laughed in your face.  If you'd told me that a national magazine had published a picture of a female sailor kissing another woman on their cover I'd have have laughed in your face.  

You've got to understand, that for the Tea Partiers all of that is a sign that their world is DYING.  It's finally ending.  At last.  After all this time.  The cult of white supremacy is fading.  The demand for patriarchy is going away. The existence of institutional second class citizens is stopping.  

And WE - this generation - is alive to see it. Something Abraham Lincoln or Susan B. Anthony could never even imagine.  Or Jefferson, himself, for that matter.  

The fight in Washington over the budget is MORE than just that - it's the great battle over governance for OUR era.  The conservatives and their enablers of WASP supremacy are engaged in this fight for only one reason: power.  They are trying to remain relevant at a time when their ideology is more out of step with the mainstream than ever before.  Remember, less than a century ago 3 million people were in the KKK, only 50 years ago African Americans had to sit in the back of the bus.  Now those things are looked on by the vast majority with sickening disdain.  

If Boehner let go of the Hastert Rule and allowed votes on all legislation, the GOP would cease to exist tomorrow.  There are enough moderatre Republicans to join with the Dems over pretty much any issue and movement conservatism would be dead - regardless of how many seats they hold.  And never forget, they only hold those seats because of Gerrymandering.  It was our party that won the actual votes.  

So, you are DAMN RIGHT I'm proud of America today.  

Because what you see as disfunction I see as the latest in a long chain of evolutionary steps by which this country has attained GREATER levels of freedom and justice for its citizens.  It's our duty, as Democrats - as liberals - to fight for that, in the same way our parents protested Viet Nam and rallied for Civil Rights, in the same way that our grandparents fought fascists in Europe and fascists at home, and in the same way their grandparents gave their lives to hold this union together.  

That's what this is, folks, a fight for what's right.  Except this times it's with words and dollars instead of bullets and lynchings.  But I have no doubt, in the end, our side will win.  As we have always won, because we represent the great promise of what this nation stands for and was founded to protect: liberty and justice for ALL, not just the few, the straight, the white, the Christan, and the powerful.    

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (20+ / 0-)

    No one can terrorize a whole nation, unless we are all his accomplices. - Edward R. Murrow

    by CrazyHorse on Thu Oct 03, 2013 at 07:31:29 AM PDT

  •  Great Perspective (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CrazyHorse, cotterperson

    Thanks for contexting these events in the larger sweep of US history.

    "Political ends as sad remains will die." - YES 'And You and I' ; -8.88, -9.54

    by US Blues on Thu Oct 03, 2013 at 07:36:33 AM PDT

  •  It's better to have an economic meltdown (3+ / 0-)

    than a civil war.

    We've progressed that much at least.

    I think, however, I'd rather be reading about this year in a history book than living it.  Because I don't think movement conservatism is going to end without taking down the full faith and credit of the US government's currency with it.

    And maybe not even then.  Things get bad enough as a result, we might yet see a coup, if not a civil war.

    •  No. (5+ / 0-)

      There'll be no civil war becaue there's no mechanism for a civil war. In the 19th century every state was militarized with centrally controlled military bases - forts, naval ships, that kind of thing.  So when the CSA stood up, the army simply declared loyalty for their state and handed it over.  That could never happen now.  We don't have domestic forts stocked with outward pointing cannon, etc.  There's no means for a coup to take place.  

      Well, in the traditional sense.  Actually what we're seeing the House try is the only kind of coup that works these days.  You can tie the President's hands if you can't impeach and remove him.  So the House is trying to break the President's agenda by denying him the ability to fund it.  That's an American coup in the 21st century.  

      There are no citizen soldiers any longer that could take up arms.  So what if your neighborhood gun club decided to take over...what...city hall?  One drone strike and it's over.  

      Secondly, we are fortunate in that we don't have a Parliament along the lines of that in Weimar Germany.  There's not way for the minority to take the reigns of the executive AS a minority.  

      Look at the polling data - movement conservatives are old.  Romney won old white people, and little more.  They can't and won't last forever.  

      But along the way, there will be much suffering.  Do I think we defautl on the debt?  Yeah, I give it a 60-40 chance today.  And when Wall Street meltsdown we'll see how long the GOP can hang in.  

      No one can terrorize a whole nation, unless we are all his accomplices. - Edward R. Murrow

      by CrazyHorse on Thu Oct 03, 2013 at 07:52:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  One hope is that Wall Street leans on Boehner to (2+ / 0-)

        drop the Hastert rule and save the good faith and credit of the US.



        Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

        by Wee Mama on Thu Oct 03, 2013 at 08:17:34 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Right, I wasn't trying to imply a civil war was in (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        CrazyHorse

        the cards, but looking back my last sentence was ambiguous.  As I said, we've learned from the Civil War, just as the Founders learned from the Romans and didn't entrust Senator/Generals with private armies whose future depended on their political success.

        We could see a big rash of violence though, of the home-grown-militia variety, and weird stuff like counties and cities trying to leave the Union (as we have in California right now, we've got a county trying on the idea)

        And if this wound inflicted by republicans somehow gets the idiots in this country to blame all the new problems on Obama, we could still lose it all in "elections" held with some states in martial law etc.

        I do hope you have put your finger on the likely outcome....a period of pain allowing birth of another bit of progress.   Certainly if we can hold the presidency through 2020 and likely some conservative supreme court retirements or deaths, and get another 2 year period by 2020 (including the 2020 cycle) where the Rs don't control a major branch of the federal government, America will probably be a better country than it was in 2000, even if it has taken a big hit in its international position and power.

        •  I Think You're Right (0+ / 0-)

          I hate to say it, but it is what it is.  For Democrats, this is the best path forward I can see:

          1.  We hold the Senate and win just enough seats in the House to make the Hastert Rule even harder to maintain.  

          2.  This puts us on a good footing for 2016.  The GOP noms Christie and we nom Clinton.  Clinton beats Christie in what looks like would also be a sweaper for the House.  

          3.  The Dems own the whole govt for at least two years, while the Tea Baggers turn on the "moderates" that nominated Christie, driving the last forces of New England moderation to the Democrats.  

          4.  In 2020, as a result, we take state houses in places like Pennsylvania, Florida, and North Carolina and are able to redraw the map, giving Democrats a House advantage for ten years.  

          5. During all of that, the Silents and Boomers simply die off, ending the GOP's lock on the white vote.  

          All that being said, as the hard right withers they are liable to be quite violent as they lose their grip on power.  

          No one can terrorize a whole nation, unless we are all his accomplices. - Edward R. Murrow

          by CrazyHorse on Thu Oct 03, 2013 at 09:51:07 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  The cons are winning & Jefferson was not (0+ / 0-)

    A good man. Don't care what he said. His evil deeds stand for themselves. He was a rapist & he owned people.

    nosotros no somos est├║pidos

    by a2nite on Thu Oct 03, 2013 at 07:52:41 AM PDT

    •  It's Kinda Sad (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      serendipityisabitch, bewareofme

      When I see stuff like this.  Jefferson was a complex man, if not a good man. Is any man who wields power good by your standards?  CAN they be good?  Because no leader in history has ever lead a nation without having to sacrifice some aspect of their morality.  

      If you dismiss what Jefferson tried to do, because of his personal failing then no one can ever live up to your standards.  

      You do realize we don't own people any more, right?  And you do realize that we've gone from a majority of Americans supporting Jim Crow, just 50 years ago, to it being considered morally abhorrent?  

      If it looks to you that the cons are winning then your world is very small indeed.  

      No one can terrorize a whole nation, unless we are all his accomplices. - Edward R. Murrow

      by CrazyHorse on Thu Oct 03, 2013 at 08:02:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I get your point, (0+ / 0-)

        but outright disgust for Thomas Jefferson amongst African Americans is well justified despite any mitigating factors of time and history that may or may not have existed for him.

        Your response to a2nite is strikes me as too aggressive. Surely as a historian you understand that it's far easier for liberals who benefit from white privilege to take a nuanced view of Jefferson than it is for those who don't benefit from said privilege.

        •  I Understand the Digust (0+ / 0-)

          And if we were in a classroom we could have a nuanced debate about the pros and cons of the Jefferson presidency and his legacy.  

          I understand the African American dislike for Jefferson.  I'm of mixed race ancestry myself.  My mother is a descendant of plantation slaves from Waterloo, Alabama.  Her great great grandmother was raped by her master and forced to raise his child in the slave quarters.  When the war ended, she moved to New Orleans and became a prostitute.  I exist on this earth as a product of slavery - and of the willingness of a man to rape his female property.  Though my skin is white today, I own that history regardless of any "white privilege" I might be entitled to.  

          American history is more complex, as my own story illustrates, than "white Founding Father = evil."  Because despite Jefferson's faults it was he - a Southern slave owner - who tried to use the cause of the revolution as a means of abolishing slavery.  To discount that fact is to remain ignorant of the reality of history out of personal choice and bias.    

          No one can terrorize a whole nation, unless we are all his accomplices. - Edward R. Murrow

          by CrazyHorse on Thu Oct 03, 2013 at 08:28:00 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  White privilege you "might" be entitled to? (0+ / 0-)

            Could you expand on that comment a little more? The phrasing is interesting, because white privilege isn't an entitlement or something that "might" happen, but instead something that exists purely at the collective will of the white male power structure you've mentioned in the diary.

            I also have nonwhite heritage, for example, but that does nothing to take me off of the receiving end of white privilege because I am white, and am seen as white.

            •  A Little Nuance (0+ / 0-)

              This is the part of the diary where we diverge from the main theme and take it down the dusty path toward bickering back and forth over a side issue.  I'm not going to do that.  But I am going to respond.  And here's why.  

              History is not a sledge hammer.  It's not "black and white" or "black vs. white."  Or "privilege vs. a lack of privilege."  You have to look at these things in context and with an eye to what they really mean within that context.  In the way our friend above dismissed Jefferson out of hand as evil, Glenn Beck dismisses MLK as a fraud because he plagiarized a portion of his dissertation and cheated on his wife.  But is that fair?  Is all he did diminished because of his few personal failings?  You have that question to answer for yourself.  And I think not.

              Likewise the way a lot of people interpret what "privilege" means today.  This unnuanced approach presumes that ALL white people are automatically more privileged than ALL minorities.  But it takes epic reality blinders to truly believe that.  

              Ted Cruz, for instance, was born to this world with far more privilege than you or I will ever enjoy.  And he has used it - his intellectual gifts are few.  

              Cornel West was born to this world with much more privilege than I.  His father had an excellent government job, his mother was a principal of a well regarded school - and now has a school named after her.  He went to an excellent high school and then attended Harvard - an elite university. Money was there to pay for it all.  He's moved from one elite academic position to the next.  

              We must acknowledge that Dr. West worked hard to get where he is - but we must also acknowledge he came from a background that valued education, his parents were upper  middle class, and he had access to success pathways most of us don't.  Including money.    

              I, on the other hand, was born in the back of a 1973 Vega and was raised in a trailer house in West Texas by two abusive illiterates whose only ambition was beating their kids and watching television. At age 18 I ran away from home and - while working three jobs - put myself through a succession of state universities, finally earning a PhD without taking out a single student loan.  I couldn't even afford to breath the air at Harvard.  As a runaway estranged from my parents, I qualified for no scholarships and no loans.  I had to work. Period.    

              From there I worked my way up to the highest level of civil service appointment in my state, while publishing academic papers and teaching at the local univesity.  I also worked on a number of campaigns and finally landed a job here in Washington when Obama came in.  In the meantime I started my own business using not a grant or loan, but my personal credit cards to bankroll it.  It has succeeded and I paid off my debt.  I had no friends to underwrite me.    

              In this case, my "privilege" is really situational.  Maybe somewhere along the line somebody gave me a job because I was a bit whiter than someone else - though that doesn't seem to be the case in my current position.  Being white certainly didn't help me as a kid growing up in that trailer house.  Nor did it help me while I was mopping floors at the pizza place or shelving books at the library.  Or delivering newspapers.  

              Nor have I ever chosen to define myself by my whiteness or tried to enshrine it as absolutist.  Indeed, I'm the first person to want an end to white supremacy - as the ACTUAL meaning of my diary implies.  

              To dismiss anything I have done as the result of "privilege" is no better than dismissing that which the President has achieved or which Dr. West has achieved as the result of "affirmative action."  It's the same overly simplified unnuanced approach that makes enemies out of allies out of a need to inspire guilt in people for who they are NOT what they've done for themselves.  And I can't agree with that.  I look at a person and judge them based on the content of their heart and their deeds, not because of what their ancestors did or didn't do.  The sins of the fathers DO NOT belong to the sons - so long as we refuse to own them.  And that's the point of my diary.  

              No one can terrorize a whole nation, unless we are all his accomplices. - Edward R. Murrow

              by CrazyHorse on Thu Oct 03, 2013 at 09:36:43 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  See, it appears to me that (0+ / 0-)

                you fundamentally misunderstand the very nature of white privilege based on everything you've written, but it doesn't really matter I suppose. You're not in total denial about it like most people on this site, which I appreciate, and see no reason to belabor the issue. I hope you at least can understand that acknowledging white privilege in no way discounts your personal struggles or achievements in the face of adversity, much in the same way your personal adversity doesn't discount the automatic struggles that racism causes even for privileged back men and women like Dr. West. In my view, if one feels at all defensive about white privilege, one simply doesn't get it.

                I appreciate your response and this diary, but don't appreciate your response to a2nite. That's my nuanced view of the situation.

                •  I Suppose (0+ / 0-)

                  We must simply agree to disagree. I think words have meaning.  If you're going to dismiss Jefferson as "evil" out of hand then that's no better than dismissing ANYONE out of hand, if that dismissal is not based on fact.

                  I acknowledge the existence of racism.  But, again, words have meaning.  Racism as practiced by actual white supremacists - those in the Tea Party who would happily see blacks in the back of the bus and Hispanics as a quasi-slave labor force - is a far cry from the accidental or quasi-instituional racism you seem to be alluding to.  When we have ridden ourselves of the former, we can attack the latter with full force.  Until then I will not make enemies of well-intentioned allies just to prove a point in a debate.  

                  I don't feel defensive about white privilege.  I feel defensive about the way in which you are choosing to define it.  Basically you've tossed down the privilege card because I called out a2nite's glib post for being the unhelpful, ignorant, and historically inaccurate thing that it is.  And I believe that - we don't erase racism by perpetuating lies about history.  No matter how good natured our intentions might be.  Again, that is NO DIFFERENT than dismissing MLK's work because of his personal failings.  

                  That's what I'm sensitive about - making the truth of history a martyr to modern politics.    

                  I admit I don't fully understand what you mean by white privilege.  Of course I acknowledge institutional racism.  Again, the point of my diary.  But you seem to mean something I have to acknowledge but which cannot be defined and which I have no power over.  

                  No one can terrorize a whole nation, unless we are all his accomplices. - Edward R. Murrow

                  by CrazyHorse on Thu Oct 03, 2013 at 10:42:39 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

    •  For what it's worth (0+ / 0-)

      The Sally Hanson allegations started during the campaign of 1800, which makes current political campaigns look like a pee wee baseball game.

      "That being said, I do agree I am going to hell. But for other reasons. Mostly boring tax stuff ' Amy Pohler

      by Annie B on Thu Oct 03, 2013 at 09:11:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's True. (0+ / 0-)

        The controvery over Sally Hemings actually dates to 1790.  At the end of the day, we still don't know if they're true.  As a historian, we have to look at it like that.  The Eston Hemings DNA study says - maybe.  

        It's called "history: warts and all."  If we judge our ancestors by our modern standards the perfect will alway be the enemy of the good.  

        Of course none of this erases the ironclad fact that if we'd followed Jefferson's lead in 1776 there never would have been a continuation of slavery in the first place.  

        No one can terrorize a whole nation, unless we are all his accomplices. - Edward R. Murrow

        by CrazyHorse on Thu Oct 03, 2013 at 09:55:10 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you CrazyHorse for this intelligent, thought (3+ / 0-)

    ful and hopeful diary.

    I especially loved this...

    "...their philosophy goes against the forward arrow of American history."

    And this....

    "That's what this is, folks, a fight for what's right.  Except this times it's with words and dollars instead of bullets and lynchings.  But I have no doubt, in the end, our side will win.  As we have always won, because we represent the great promise of what this nation stands for and was founded to protect: liberty and justice for ALL, not just the few, the straight, the white, the Christian, and the powerful. "

    You made me cry, but sometimes truth'll do that to a body.

  •  I have always maintained (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CrazyHorse, TheDuckManCometh

    that the result of this antebellum movement, constantly straining, tearing, generating strife and division, (i.e., gay marriage, abortion, religion, etc) which always and invariably reinforced the  white patriarchy, would be a global progressive movement that would swing wide left.

    If the Tea Party and their ilk seem more crazed than ever, it's because their world is shrinking to even smaller proportions -- it's not really 1% -- it's more like .01%.  

    You can thank the Internet for this epiphany, in large part, which for all it's faults, has brought a larger universe, even into the worlds of people who were born and raised in ideological bubbles/vacuums.  That in turn, has actually forced many to realize for the first time that they genuinely are a minority, not just in the USA, but in the world.  

    They can see the tide sweeping away their rigid little world and creating in its place, a world fit for ALL, not just their tiny little population.

    •  You are So Right (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TheDuckManCometh

      I really believe it.  Look at the polls.  About 20% of Americans will believe just about anything, regardless of how true it actually is.  And the "insanity" in that minority almost uniformly trends toward right-thinking.  

      Imagine if you were born in 1945 and grew up in a Southern Jim Crow household like my parents.  If you liked that world - if that world benefitted you and your friends and your family.  Well, THIS world must seem like hell.  

      No one can terrorize a whole nation, unless we are all his accomplices. - Edward R. Murrow

      by CrazyHorse on Thu Oct 03, 2013 at 09:57:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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