Jeffrey St. Clair directs most of his righteous venom at President Barack Obama. But he’s eloquent in describing the sadness of the American condition in general.
“Before he died, Norman Mailer took to lamenting that the American culture was corroding from a bad conscience. The country was warping under the psychic weight of years of illegal wars, torture, official greed, religious prudishness, government surveillance, unsatisfying Viagra-supplemented sex, bland genetically engineered food, crappy jobs, dismal movies, and infantile, corporatized music — all scrolling by in an infinite montage of annoying Tweets. Even the virtual commons of cyberspace had gone solipsistic.
“Corporate capitalism just wasn’t delivering the goods anymore. Not for the bottom 80 percent, any way. The economy was in ruins, mired in what appeared to be a permanent recession. The manufacturing sector had been killed from the inside-out, with millions of well-paying jobs outsourced and nothing but dreary service-sector positions to take their place. Chronic long-term unemployment hovered at more than 10 percent, worse, much worse, in black America. Those who clung to their jobs had seen their wages stagnate, their home values shrivel and were suffocating under merciless mounds of debt. Meanwhile, capital moved in ever-tightening circles among a new odious breed of super-rich, making sweat-free billions from the facile movement of money.
“By 2008, the wistfulness seemed to have evaporated from the American spirit. The country had seen its own government repeatedly prey on its citizens’ fear of the future. Paranoia had become the last growth industry. From the High Sierras to the Blue Ridge, the political landscape was sour and spiteful, the perfect seed-ground for the sprouting of the Tea Party and even ranker and more venomous movements on the American right. These were not the ideological descendents of the fiery libertarian Barry Goldwater. The tea-baggers lacked Goldwater’s western innocence and naive idealism. These suburban populists, by and large, were white, unhappy and aging. Animated by the grim nostalgia for a pre-Lapsarian fantasyland called the Reagan administration, many sensed their station in society slipping inexorably away. They wanted their country back. But back from whom?”
“Instead of blaming corporate outsourcers or predatory bankers, they directed their vindictive impulse toward immigrants and blacks, government workers and teachers, scientists and homosexuals. There’s something profoundly pathetic about the political fatalism of this new species Know-Nothings. But, it must be said, their wrath was mostly pure. This strange consortium of discontent seethed with an inchoate sense of alienation, an acidic despair at the diminished potentialities of life in post-industrial America.”