I had considered myself a Libertarian, for as long as I had been aware of such distinctions. However, I remember, hazily, being on Jimmy Carter’s side, during his debates with Reagan…This was in 5th grade, and the teacher Mrs. Biggers, was not only mean and prone to screaming, she was decidedly in St Ronny’s corner. I’m certain that this had some influence. My folks were all Democrats…and their folks, and so on…but Politics was another of those things that was kept hidden from my brother and I. We were given a questionnaire, in the Civics semester, about Political Leanings. I came out very Left…but it felt too simplistic, to me.
I remember, during the ’88 election feeling that I had to make a choice, as it was my first time being eligible to vote in a Presidential contest. I went with Ron Paul…largely due to the Libertarian’s reputation as Pro-Marijuana…but also as an expression of my congenital Rebellion.. At the time, I paid little attention to politics, let alone economics…I wanted more Freedom! ….and was becoming more aware of it’s lack, in my daily life. I knew I didn’t like Republicans…Reagan and Daddy Bush always felt somewhat dishonest, to me…like there was something about them, behind the façade, that was fundamentally Wrong. I eschewed politics for a long time after that…I had other things to think about.
The wars, especially the Drug War, didn’t set well with me. There was always a feeling of Repression…largely undefined. What little attention I paid to politics, was mostly like this…a gut feeling. I liked Hightower..and Anne Richards…I liked Ross Perot…Clinton was OK, mostly because his name was not Bush.
It wasn’t till I moved to Austin that I became aware, politically. The intransigence of the Republicans, the self righteous BS of Newt, and company…they were associated with the Rabid People, in my mind…the Bombing in Oklahoma was perpetrated by one of theirs…and I leaned Left.
I knew I was Not Republican…and Democrats seemed, even then, to be little better. Dems made noises that I liked, but didn’t follow through. I didn’t make the distinction, at the time, but I was a Left Libertarian…the influence of Jefferson and the Beats, and the whole Hippy Milieu meant that I really didn’t fit, anywhere. I hated the idea of War..the Wars in my time felt dishonest…not like WW2…not Just Wars…more about Business, with a Crusader Patina, that wouldn’t become overt, till much later. I sympathized with Clinton, during the scandals. He was getting railroaded…that was obvious. The economy, at the time, while better than it is now, didn’t have any justice to it. Clinton , and the Dems, were the only ones who said anything even remotely connected to the economic realities I was beginning to understand….but my perception was that they were full of shit, too…just not as much so, as the Republicans. The Republicans were an obvious opponent. Everything about them said to me,”we’re after you!”. The abortion mess, never mattered to me, really…until high school, when I helped a friend get one. That issue was the only thing about Ron Paul I didn’t like. Later, I would add the Pro Corporate stance of the Libertarians to my list of differences….but that was later. I was nacently anti Government…largely due to the whole Waco/Ruby Ridge thing…and the Drug War.
In Austin, I knew a lot of homeless people, young and old…lot of Vietnam Vets, living out of dumpsters…at the time, there began a crusade against the “blight” of homeless folks in Austin. My first Protest was against this. (wherein I drank beer with Molly Ivins, on Congress ave.) I was becoming politically aware, and active…and keenly aware of the injustices of our Economic System.
George Bush 2 was Governor…and was obviously a fool, and a Corporate Lackey, as well as being plugged into the whole conspiracy theorist’s nightmare of CIA/MKULtra, and other, assorted Evils…of course, at the time, I was certainly aware that Clinton was , too. The Richards/Hightower-Types were few and far between….and that’s where my sympathies lay. Too, I was married into the Black Sheep side of the Bush Crime Family…my wife’s paternal granddad was also George Bush, he was a cousin to the Kenebunkport Bushes…and hated them with a passion. Daddy Bush showed up, with the Secret Service at Grandma’s funeral…and there were stories of how the White Sheep Faction had stolen the family’s west Texas oil wealth.
During this time, Economic considerations drove me to Mason….and I , again, eschewed Politics. When Lil George ran for President, I thought, at worst, he would be a one-termer, and that whatever Dem came after would likely have some cleaning up to do…
I was more aware of Economics, in those days…enough to know that Corporate America was my likely nemesis…things like Nafta meant that the New Democrats weren’t the answer…and Republicans, of whatever stripe, were obviously in the corporate Pocket…so I was libertarian, still…even becoming Mason County Chair of the Libertarian Party(wholly ineffective)…the L’s own fellation of Corporations, as some kind of high expression of Freedom, finally drove me out. There seemed to be no party for me, save, perhaps, the greens.
Then 911, and the Nazi-like rhetoric, the militaristic chest thumping…the anti-intellectual nationalism…the sudden lurch to the Right…
I became a Reluctant Democrat.(the stolen election of 2000 played a large part, too). Evil had a face…and it wasn’t Al Quaida…it was Dick, Don and Lil George!
Into a Research Frenzy I went…one that I am just now wrapping up. I weighed all the various “Conspiracy Theories”…noted the surreality of Conventional Wisdom…delved into the History of the Right and Left…the Philosophy of it all. ..and sided with Gore and the Dems, as the last best hope for Freedom and a continuation of the Enlightenment.
I spent years reading the federal Register…piecing together a counter-narrative, that included the worst crimes of our country…
Economics and Political Philosophy…what I knew of the Bush Crime Family…”Conspiracy” as shorthand for “Crazy”, even though many of the “Theories” fit reality so much better than the Official Narrative. The Propaganda Onslaught, and the Love It Or leave It Nationalism, the Das Heimat Rhetoric…and the Dems half-hearted opposition to it all…I became a Lesser Evil Dem.
The Neocons were matched by the Neolibs as two sides of the same Evil. Corporate Feudalism, Friendly Fascism,and America,Inc.
A distinction had to be made, between the “Good” Dems, and the Bad. While I still distrusted Big Gov, I came to realize that it was likely all that stood between us and the Machine…a sad realization! The Language was all wrong! It was the language, the Meme-Space of the Right that had clouded everything(Yoda)…making honest political distinction impossible.
And here we are! Stuck in Surreal-Topia…Up is down, etc. The Corporate Machine has gone Global (long ago, it turns out…and with bipartisan support)…and there is nothing standing in the way of Eternal Fascism. Peak Oil is Real, and lurks behind all of this. The Conventional Wisdom is hopelessly marred, and the Framework I worked so hard to construct appears to be a lot closer to the Reality of things…but there is too much mud and confusion…too much knee-jerk Patriotism…and far too little Understanding.
I will continue to vote Dem…the alternative is too terrible….but I have little hope that Civilisation can be saved. We must go into the Burning Times,the Fall of American Empire…and likely the End of our Global Civilisation…I see nothing else that can possibly stop the Panopticon, the Dystopian Hell World that is rapidly being constructed.
My Task, as I see it, is…on the one hand…to “Rage against the dying of the Light”…and on the other, to Hunker Down…to try and preserve some ember of the best of Us….Secular Monasticism…a little Life Boat of Enlightenment, in a Sea of Darkness.