|John Alexander, Ship of Fools|
“This is what a society looks like when the glue that holds it together starts to dissolve. This is the way ordinary citizens react when they learn that the structure beneath them is crumbling. And this is the thrill that pulses through the veins of the well-to-do when they discover that there is no longer any limit on their power to accumulate.”
The title of this book by Thomas Frank is an obvious play on the prescient quote from Franklin D. Roosevelt’s speech to the Democratic Convention in 1936:
“There is a mysterious cycle in human events. To some generations much is given. Of other generations much is expected. This generation of Americans has a rendezvous with destiny.”
In the past I often speculated that the US was extraordinarily fortunate, a high-toned way of saying damned lucky, that in the mix of leadership that came out of the Roaring Twenties and the Great Depression the US had its Roosevelt— while Italy had Mussolini, Germany had its Hitler, Russia was in the hands of Stalin, Japan with Tojo, and Span with Franco.
This time around the American voters were shortchanged when they thought they had chosen their new FDR, the great reformer and bringer of Hope and Change in Obama.
And having failed in that, they next turned to an alternative choice, a new breed of populist, similar to Huey Long in rhetoric and common appeal, but without Huey’s long years of practical experience in government.
The failure to make the necessary changes and reforms that follows on these political hoaxes reverberates, with the adherents of either ‘great reformer’ clinging to their dashed hopes and expectation like survivors stubbornly clinging to their favorite wreckage of a ship of fools, shutting their eyes in determined denial, drifting towards some yet to be realized rendezvous with oblivion.
Thom Hartmann reads a short excerpt from Thomas Frank’s new collection of essays, Rendezvous With Oblivion.