First, a recap of recent market gains in fear futures... 71
Reflecting, not on the passing government, but on ourselves and our own part in the dismal events of the Bush years, we arrive at some unavoidable conclusions. As citizens we had become so softened by years of prosperous security before his terms that we were vulnerable to manipulation by most of his shallow, fabricated new fears.
We were officially frightened by Osama bin Laden after 911, and his imaginary accomplice, Sadam Hussein shortly after that. We were not frightened by Indian and Pakistani H-bomb tests. Perhaps that fright was reserved for later, that is, for some inevitable future moment when it could be exploited with greater results.
We were frightened by North Korea’s H-bomb test. It enjoyed the serendipity of being at just the right moment, maybe a moment when our fear was subsiding to levels no longer blindly supporting some scheme made politically possible only by our manipulation.
We responded well to Iran’s understandable ambition to arm itself. At any time that fear faltered, we increased our not so subtle threats, making some fiery response a virtual certainty, a reaffirmed asset for domestic consumption here and, of course, a good investment of hate.
We weren’t particularly frightened by Katrina, a deadly but largely unusable source of fear due to its lack of a “bomb-able” adversary. The Russians presented a reliable threat, but they apparently frightened our government in return. They were somewhat less usable, perhaps because they could actually “bite back.”
The point? We, unaccustomed to being threatened after such a long hegemony -- real or imagined, were gradually groomed to be frightened on demand. The neo-cons accurately and successfully managed to convince us that leadership required a threat. In the more rational examination of such leadership, that is, when it was examined without the convenient hysteria of the latest calamity, its appearance might become dangerously lack luster.
The "new frighteners."
Now, these weary “old frighteners” are on their way out of town. Troubling "new frighteners” have arrived with the ambition of taking over the franchise. These "new frighteners” are not neo-cons at all. This new batch is from the other end of the spectrum. We seem to be entering into a period of being frightened by the left.
What are the threats being employed? After all, the left has demonstrated an irritable kind of allergic avoidance to the use of foreign machinations to frighten us. The newest, post election tool is, instead, an interesting innuendo indicting the “progressive purity” of Obama's nominations for places of power in the new government.
There was the momentary mention of the “testing” of the new President, but that was no more than a sickening remnant of the old scheme of threats, one based on the same tired ideology of being hopelessly terrified by foreign adversaries, that is, a tiresome repeat of the one used before. These more contemporary “frighteners” are intent on revealing threats to us about cabinet appointments and the possibilities that our accomplishments in the last election would be undercut with a result of reverting the government back to the numbing failure of its predecessor. They seem to have developed an appetite for questioning the new President’s character even after supporting him only a few weeks or months ago.
The threat they endeavor to manufacture now is one of deception and conspiracy. They imply that the changes we sought have not turned out to be changes at all. These folks would like to take up the mantle of being the "new threateners" with their endless assertion that we, as voters, have been deceived. Again.
Clearly, they consider any fear and fright of this sort that they can incite in us to be a valuable asset to prop up their languishing authority as critics and pundits. They believe that these unexamined doubts they might cause will become very useful foundations for later tirades and tantrums which might have, otherwise, been too obviously shallow to provide the impact they crave. Their future dream is to say, credibly, of course, “I told you so.” “I was the one who cried out the early warning, so believe me now!”
If you’re waiting for the next form of being scared, you may be disappointed. You may have to learn a new trick. The world as previously presented as one of endless, hopeless, despair is going to become one of challenges and opportunities. Instead of groveling and trying to simply survive, we will be required to stand up with our eyes forward. Rather than cowering in a sterile ideological wasteland, lamenting on how things should have been, we will now be required to begin all our thoughts with where things are and where we intend to go.
Domestically, Senatorial bigots and military throwbacks have invested heavily in sponsoring our hatred and fear of each other. Their practiced incompetence was the real conspiracy as they trotted out fabricated alternatives with every choice equally depressing and unpalatable. Their old paradigm of no choices other than dominating or surviving the world is becoming the new, brighter question of successfully living in it.
These aging knee jerkers are now exposed much like the new thought-limiting left. Neither group has earned the right to express their foolish purity. Neither group has ever been willing to pay the honest wage of embracing leadership. The wage? To follow, of course. To trust a little. To think of the country beyond one’s immediate personal ambitions.
These "new frighteners” from the left would like for us to faint before the “hodge podge” of conflicting influences in the new government. They would prefer that we were, well, more hopelessly stoic given the rather raw abilities of these nominations by Obama. These "new frighteners” would prefer that we be pessimists about whether or not he can lead with all these conflicting influences. “Who will be in charge?” they wonder.
I predict that none of us will wonder about this for long.
We have elected a leader with, I suspect, a lethal, pragmatic competence coupled with more idealism that most of us think we can afford right now. Of course we are a bit uncomfortable with what we’ve done, but we can certainly claim that we were at our bravest and our best when we did it, inebriated with new hope.
By the way, that hope isn’t all in him. The important part of that hope is in us.
Leadership, after the wasteland we’ve endured, may seem to be measured by astounding solutions to intractable problems. It isn’t. It’s much more like paint, permanently changing the hue of everything it touches.
Get used to it.
No more being directed by fear. The leader we’ve found won’t amount to much without Americans to follow him.
For a very unusual point of view, sample this link: