Sunday, February 28, 2010

Down the Rabbit Hole

"Meeting" (a novelette published by Lillibridge Press, available at, and Kindle) is the story of a man who falls through a seemingly magical trapdoor and finds himself in an alternative, fractured reality where nothing makes sense or is what it appears. He feels much like Alice after falling down the rabbit hole.

In real life, America seems to have fallen through a different kind of rabbit hole into a strange land where hope and vision seem to have fled. Where no one hopes, but only despairs. Where leaders don't lead towards anything new, only away from what is, because no one sees the good in anything, only the bad. Everything moves backwards, never forwards. The land of NoNoNo. The ruling elite of this strange kingdom call themselves, appropriately enough, the Tea Party. It seems much like the mad hatter's tea party where nothing makes any sense and everything is the exact opposite of what reason dictates. The Tea Party is not a political movement. "Movement" implies movement toward an envisioned goal, via a defining creed or philosophy. The Tea Party has no such vision. They just like to complain, and tear down whoever happens to be in office at the time. Off with his head! They do present potential candidates, I suppose, but not real candidates; just phantoms. A smiling snow queen who hunts wolves from the air, dreams of bombing countries into submission, and sees glaciers melt and polar bears drown, and insists nothing's wrong. A smiling dreamer who lives in his own private world where ideas and theories are real and reality is too bothersome to acknowledge. He'd like to take us magically back through time to the 19th century, where everything will be just great, where free enterprise, unfettered by big mean government will take us to paradise. These phantom candidates just fade away like the Cheshire Cat, until only their smiles remain. Most Americans don't believe these people are fit to lead us, yet the Tea Party embraces them. Or, pretends to.

So, what does the Tea Party want? Well, they say they want small family businesses to flourish. Well, a sensible way to work towards that would be to tax and regulate the big corporations and pour stimulus money into the small, struggling businesses, while keeping healthcare costs down by setting limits on the big insurers. Right? NoNoNo. In reply to that all-too-logical approach, the Tea Partiers rant and rave and call the president a Marxist, an Arab, a Leninist, elected only by illiterates. "No big government," they cry, oddly forgetting that every financial disaster this country has suffered for the past 30 years...from the deficits of the greed-maddened 80's, to the Enron and Imclone disasters to the escalating healthcare costs and recession we face now...has been the result of too little government regulation, not too much. Curiouser and curiouser. Like Alice in Wonderland, the Tea Party people want magical potions that can make things bigger or smaller. Trouble is, government getting smaller means corporations get bigger, and bigger, until they get too big to fail. Then, like dinosaurs, they collapse of their own weight and the people pay the price. The Republicans let it get to that point by removing all obstacles to corporate greed, year after year, after year. So, the people rebelled and voted for change. Now, that made perfect sense. Trouble was, the people thought all they had to do was vote, and that would fix everything. They didn't vote for a leader. They voted for a miracle worker. When they discovered he couldn't walk on water, or part the Red Sea, that he was, lo and behold, just a mere mortal who had to function in the same old political system of dealmaking and improvisation, when they saw him compromising and getting blocked by the established interests left and right, what did they do? Did they fight for him, get behind him, vote in more of his supporters to make him powerful enough to get more bills passed, to work toward cleaning up the mess? NoNoNo. They abandoned him after one year. Now, if they'd tried to form a third party, that would have been respectable, perhaps even visionary. But, NoNoNo. They just joined the mad dance at the mad hatter's tea party, knowing that the second they start to believe in something, that something could be torn down. An escape from reality, not unlike that other rabbit hole we fell through, back in the 1960's. (Except now, it's the parents fleeing reality, instead of the kids.)

So, what's next? Back to the madness that begat the madness? Then, when that brings no magical, easy answers, back again to the other way, again and again and again...forever? There'll only be light at the end of the rabbit hole when we realize there are no easy answers, and that hope is only the first step toward a long, hard road. Nobody ever promised it would be easy. Nothing worthwhile ever is. America started with a dream, but it took many years of hard work to make it a reality. I hope it doesn't end with a whimper of self-pity and a longing for swift, easy answers.

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