I was cheered to hear this proclamation of dire portent because it reminded me that, in a rapidly changing world, the classics never go out of style. If fear is a commodity of exchange in the political realm, paranoia about the CFR is a blue-chip perennial.
Never mind that the CFR board of directors is comprised of characters as sinister as Colin Powell and Tom Brokaw, or that its major publication, Foreign Affairs, renders its pronouncements in prose so dense you need a pressure washer to get to the predicates. Among a certain caste of political enthusiasts, the CFR is believed to be working at the behest of shadowy billionaires and international power brokers to, as the online Conspiracy Archive somewhat ungrammatically asserts, “infiltrate the New World Order into American life.”
Slipping Treasury bond ratings? The CFR’s behind it. U.S. subservience to multinational peacekeeping forces? It had to be the CFR’s doing. Fox canceling 24? Only one organization could triumph over Jack Bauer!
Another tradition that defies evolution is sore losership. In the wake of imperfect health care reform passed by Congress, there’s been a windfall harvest of sour grapes. Attorneys general of assorted states have rushed to file lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the legislation, while disgruntled solons embracing a new mantra, Repeal and Replace, ignore the mathematical implausibility of their position in a vain quest to overturn the landmark bill package.
It is unclear whether these quixotic crusaders realize that President Obama would veto any repeal they eked out, necessitating a two-thirds vote to override. More importantly, has anyone heard any sort of plan that would replace that which was repealed?
Right here in Alabama, homegrown sour grape harvesters have swung into action to thwart majority rule wherever it conflicts with their worldview. Just Tuesday, Montgomery was treated to an influx of talk show listeners rolling in to stand atop Goat Hill with assorted demands that the Alabama legislature take action against encroaching federal government.
It was a glittering array, with the sun shining on the balding pates and the QVC jewelry of indignant Aryans from all across the state. There were Rainy Day Patriots and Tea Party Movement mavens, Common Sense Campaigners and Patriot Clubbers, all gaily attired in red, white and blue, out to cajole legislators into supporting a Health Care Freedom Act that would “prohibit any person, employer, or health care provider from being compelled to participate in any health care system.”
When in doubt, opt out. It’s an Alabama tradition that goes back to 1861.
Again, the indignant might not have done all their homework, for they were attempting to petition a legislature that hadn’t even gotten around to passing the state budgets for which they had been called into session in the first place. They had a better chance of seeing Lowell Barron do the Cabbage Patch than seeing their bill reported out of the Senate that day.
Far away in the bowels of New York City, Times columnist Frank Rich has made an interesting observation. Pointing out that the angst-inducing “Obamacare” bill isn’t much different than one Republican governor Mitt Romney got enacted in Massachusetts, Rich wrote that “the health care bill is not the main source of this anger and never has been. It’s merely a handy excuse. The real source of the over-the-top rage of 2010 is the same kind of national existential reordering that roiled America in 1964.”
As young Bob Dylan was singing that year, “The times, they are a-changing.”
We are experiencing generational shift as well as cultural shift. Old white people are inexorably becoming a minority group in America, and they do not take kindly to having influence wrested from them after all these years. History suggests, though, that no matter how loudly they contend, on Goat Hill or on talk radio, they will not be able to take the country back, back from the uppity sort who won the White House or back to 1960, when people knew their place. We are 10 years into a new century, and our republic is moving on, just as certainly as it did the last couple of times it passed century marks.
While Rich noted the paucity of non-whites in the Tea Party movement (not to mention in the GOP with which so many ‘baggers identify; the party having sent only three African-Americans to Congress since 1935), David Paul Kuhn opined for a Times on the other side of the country, in Los Angeles, that white guys seem to be abandoning the Democratic Party. Crunching Gallup numbers, Kuhn asserted that only 35% of white males support Obama and the Dems, now that recession has hit that demographic so hard. However, the hope and change merchants managed to get elected in 2008 with only 41% of white voters, so those six points may not make as much of a difference as Kuhn anticipates.
Obviously Democrats face impediments in the fall races, as is often the case in off-year elections, but the passage of health care reform on a partisan basis may well prove a boon to them. Republicans will have to campaign on their record of obfuscation and obstruction, and the clarion call of Repeal and Replace may become a mere toot as anger dissipates during a long, hot summer.
You can see it coming from here: another November to remember.
Courtney Haden is a Birmingham Weekly columnist. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org.