Kakistocracy

Winter and the Moon of the New Year

Ordinary Time (hah)

Thursday gratefuls: Georgia. Georgia. Georgia. USPS. Sadness and shock. Shock. Our Federal government. Impeachment articles being written. The 25th amendment. January 20th.

 

 

Oh. I admit I’ve had fantasies about revolution, about taking over the government with a group of like-minded folks. I was in my twenties and feeling a lot of rage about the Vietnam War, the draft, the historic and ongoing treatment of Blacks and women, colleges acting in loco parentis. Surely we could do better.

Later, in Minnesota, we had a string of victories like organizing the Jobs Now Coalition, Metropolitan Interfaith Affordable Housing Coalition, backing down big corporations that wanted to take over poor neighborhoods, supporting AIM with food during the occupation of Wounded Knee. Got rid of a sitting Hennepin County Commissioner and got Paul Wellstone nominated for the Senate race.

We were on fire, going places. Some of us thought we might be able to institute a new government in St. Paul, elected and committed to radical ideas. Why not? Minnesota politics have radical roots. It is the D.F.L. after all.

The country pivoted. Electing Ronald Reagan. Putting radical ideas far from the action.

Got older. Still getting things done, but with a more muted sense of the possible.

Oddly, today I understand better than I ever have the conservative insistence that a peaceful public square is fragile, very fragile. The old-line, Buckley-style conservatives protect order first and foremost. They must be as or more appalled than I am at the sight of protesters scaling the wall at our Capitol building.

Democracy. Not mobocracy. Not kleptocracy. Not oligarchy. Not kakistocracy. We’ve had government by kakistocrats since 2016. We reap its whirlwind.

from 2016

Democracy is ugly, often pitiful, and now we realize, vulnerable. As a radical, I’ve often (mostly) stood outside the system, shouting from the street or organizing against it. Of course that kind of work needs doing and still needs doing, but I believe I saw its limits yesterday.

Anger and a deep sense of injustice must come up against leavening forces, ones that weigh its merits in a broader arena. This does not mean that broader arena does not tend to flatten, shortchange, pervert needed change. It can and it often does.

It does mean that no idea, no movement is without flaw. That arguments for and against must be heard, challenged. Does our Congress do that? Not often, but maybe now it will. Perhaps a bit more.

What should happen next? Trump impeached again. The 25th amendment utilized. Give Mike a couple of weeks in the big chair.

The mob? Each one who can be identified should be jailed, charged, and if the evidence justifies it, convicted and imprisoned.

Those Congressfolk and our country folk who enabled this? The Congressfolk should go. Now. Resign. Admit they backed a would be dictator and have no place any longer in our democracy.

The bigger dilemma, of course, is the 70 million U.S. citizens who voted for this guy, many for a second time.  Will jailing the mob make them go away? No, far from it. It will strengthen many, make martyrs of a few, and convince some that they came close. Now, if we just work harder…

This is very, very far from over. Our government has seen its mortality. Even Rome fell. China is littered with dynasties. So many medieval kingdoms gone. The Pharaohs are, hah, history. We’re not even 250 years old. Whether we can patch things together, create a restoration, remains to be seen.

This is the true political task of our electorate until some resolution comes.

Can we ignore health care, racial justice, climate change, police reform, covid, the economic tragedies on our main streets, the swollen numbers of unemployed? No. We cannot. The Democratic victory in the Senate means we may begin.

But this other task, the restoration of our common life, is arguably of central importance. Without a functioning government for all of us, addressing these core issues will be so, so hard. Many of them will require several presidencies if we are to make true progress. A civil war will impede them all.

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