Monday, January 5, 2009

Obama remakes the center

I may be less on the political horizons than I imagined. As the US and the world seem to be moving into a serious economic depression, I don't welcome this breakdown of the existing system and consensus as much as I thought I would. It may be simply age, but I find myself arguing to conservative friends why the various bailouts of giant financial institutions are necessary for the ordinary person to have a chance, where I would once have looked to grassroots action and building new institutions, and let the old ones fall of their own weight.

Thus President-elect Obama's clear intention of organizing a government of national unity rather than something novel and 21st Century seems to lots of people to be, in fact, something novel and 21st Century rather than a revival of the New Deal with all of its contradictions except racial segregation.

Is the swing back from the Bush administration so much relief, desite many of the same people and security policies to which Bush shifted in the last year or so? Is the sense of national emergency so unifying that a little social peace with not so much social justice now feels right?
I know that when I wasearly in my 20s, I would have welcomed a depression as a cleansing, because I wrote an article on that theme for a weekly when I was 24. Now I am nearly 60, and I am not so eager to see 10-15-20% unemployment, not so comfortable among angry people in the street, more concerned about who takes care of the disabled and elderly -- roles I am taking on in a large sandwich generation.

I can remember the slogan "Part of the way with LBJ." And I can remember regretting it when President Johnson expanded the war in Vietnam and kept trying to kill me and my friends. But now I fell like "Most of the Way with BHO." So it will be interesting to see where his compromises begin to feel like too much left on the table, and when I start heading out for the horizons again.

Et tu?