What is there to say? 2009 has been no ordinary year while 2010 begins with a feeling of quiet desperation, wandering around in an increasingly surreal twilight. Of course it seems like all our years are extraordinary these days. But this past year began with such hope with the election of our new African-American president–not just for America but for people across the planet–as evidenced by President Obama’s recent Nobel Peace Prize. For many, the last vestiges of hope were rather callously dashed when Obama approved of adding 30,000 more troops in Afghanistan just three days before he received the Nobel Peace Prize this Fall and proceeded to give a speech lauding ‘War as Peace’ (remind you of anything??).
Obama is not the leader most of the world thought he would be. He is instead, as he actually claimed, a centrist Democrat, much in the style of Bill Clinton. In many ways he is so centrist he leans decidedly towards the right. Ronald Reagan is after all one of his heroes. Certainly his claims for “Change” are largely illusory since he represents Wall Street and the Big Banks, the War Economy, Health Care Reform for the Big Insurance Companies (and not the little guy as hoped) and in actuality, helped to create more chaos in Copenhagen concerning Global Warming through his appalling lack of organized leadership. His Administration had nearly eleven months to prepare–and what happened? Basically nothing except Obama went there as a kind of (confusing) symbolic act. America’s pathetic promise to reduce emissions by 17% in 2020 is a case in point (Obama as you might recall just asked for 15%–it was the Republicans who politicked for the additional 2%).
As a result neither Left nor Right seems happy, though I am betting certain Republicans have a wicked little smile behind their complaints. Many are probably thinking that with Obama as president they couldn’t have gotten a better Christmas present. After all, the Left is becoming seriously alienated with their new obfuscating President on almost every important issue that has been up this past year. For instance it is now claimed the “Recession is over” while the job market remains seriously depressed with no end in sight. And on top of it all more and more people on the Left are now convinced there is no purpose for them to participate in politics (since just look at what happened when they did!).
If the Health Insurance Bill actually passes both houses in Congress without the public option and is signed by the ebullient Obama (which appears to be what will happen), a great many Americans will end up being very unhappy. Those on the Right will see it as indicative of wasteful Big Government spending. And those on the Left are upset since the Health Insurance Bill without the public option is less than appealing. However one looks at it, it appears the public will be left with a bill that supports the Big Insurance companies while creating extra expense for the average American at a time when most can ill afford it. Additionally the Senate amendment, which makes abortion insurance more expensive and complex (by having to pay for it with a separate check), is a huge slap in the face of most women.
Its supposed to be a brand New Year of positive Change — instead what we have gotten is our hopes for a better world turned upside down. The Left needs reinventing and the Middle has been made into a mockery. In a year when the Right should be feeling pretty low, they now have gotten a big boost towards winning the next round of elections.
This just won’t do. We had eight years of Bush — which basically created a world of economic, social and impending climate catastrophe. There needs to be Change like most of America (and the world) wanted. The last thing this planet needs is for us all to do nothing — if only to avert catastrophic levels of Global Warming (its not going to go away by itself!!).
This New Year seems to me to represent the twilight of our collective illusions. It seems as a body politic that we Americans need to look even farther inward before anything moves on the surface. We are after all involved with the famed impending Apocalypse–which is turning out to be more true than I would have ever thought. Many of us continue to struggle financially, which takes much of our time and makes many of us unable or unwilling to do anything political other than perhaps participate in sending mass emails.
2010 looks difficult, bereft as it is of the hope we had last year. It feels like many of us are wandering around in the dimming air as we watch President Obama and the Democratically controlled Congress with disbelief. Perhaps we are all just gestating. It is my hope that when it is time for us to break out of our shell more people will begin to incorporate their personal healing work and spirituality into politics which will help inform right action. Which is not to say it will be easy. It will be hard work. No matter how you call it, politics as usual just isn’t working. I for one look forward to when politics can take new shape again. For now its slow beginnings.
Meanwhile, as I see it, we as creative people need to dig deep to express our deepest feelings personally and collectively while at the same time begin to learn to hang together to better negotiate the coming times.