I had this dream last night that I’d suddenly found myself living inside a nanny state run by Oprah. Oprah had taken my former (dream) girlfriend as her mistress, but I was potentially going to be a father with my former girlfriend.
The dream started out in a place that looked kind of like the neighborhood I grew up in, and an African American lady tried to get me to pull over as I was leaving the neighborhood. Instead of citing me for a traffic violation, she began to give me strong recommendations for how I could improve my posture. At first, I kind of went along with it, but as the session took up more time, I grew more upset with the nagging.
I complained to her that this was in some ways worse than the white male police harassment we had had in place before. Instead of a white male cop abusing his power, we now had black female cops who were abusing their power–even though it appeared to be mostly toothless, and she didn’t seem to be able to do much to stop me as I drove away.
I then found myself inside a tall apartment building where I apparently conducted a pirate television show in which I complained about the abuses of the state. My ex-girlfriend, a fat blonde lady that I’ve never met in real life, lived in this apartment building, even though she was purported to be Oprah’s mistress. She (the ex-girlfriend) started going into labor, and my first inclination was to throw her out of the room where I was conducting my pirate TV show.
The room was full of a bunch of supporters, and indeed, I’d acquired a groupie fan who wanted to sleep with me on the top bunk, because she was scared of sleeping alone.
However, my conscience go the better of me, and so I followed the ex down the elevator to make sure she received medical attention, as she was potentially having my baby.
Indeed, a few minutes later, the baby suddenly appeared, and he was most responsive to my voice and wanted to lick my face like a dog.
Obviously, the dream contained some elements of the present, since I am about to become a father. I think that there must be some kind of pent up resentment in me against the idea of a nanny state, and it could also be a case that the African American women in the dream (ie, Oprah and the pseudo cop), were not meant to be taken literally. I don’t feel especially threatened by African American women, per se, but as dream figures they could be symbolic of a kind of “dark female power” that is foreign to the patriarchal power I’m used to knowing (and usually hating).
The idea of women ruling the world doesn’t especially bother me on the surface, but it’s highly likely I have issues about it below the surface. The older I get, the more I seem to favor more traditional and conservative points of view. Quite frankly, I believe that if women ruled the world, we wouldn’t experience as much overt aggression, but we would begin to see a kind of passive aggressive hand manipulating our affairs. I don’t think either the male or female forces in the universe work optimally if either one is left to its own device to accrue power.
On some level, I personally can’t stand anyone telling me what to do. I think that the best (or worst?) sort of Libertarian world satisfies this need in me. While I absolutely despise white male privilege and power, at least in a world that tends toward the laissez faire, the power of the white male is kept to a minimum and people are left to do as they please. Whereas in a female dominated world, or the proverbial nanny state, the power seems on the surface to be benign, but it is everywhere and invades every single aspect of one’s life.
I believe that this distinction is what makes me different than a lot of men who like to think they lean toward the Libertarian. These are men who have been quite happy living in worlds where other men rule them, and do in fact invade every single aspect of their lives. The military, the frat house, the macho father who corrected every flaw of character that he witnessed in his son. Those are the kinds of places they came from, and now they find themselves out in the world at large, which seems to be moving more and more toward the feminine as globalization increases. So, these men do not necessarily want smaller government, they simply want less feminine government and more masculine government.
In the most primitive “guns vs. butter” scenario, a government that spends more on butter is going to spend more time regulating how the “butter” or social welfare programs are distributed and making sure everyone gets a fair share. A government that spends more on guns will only be hyper-regulatory of its military.
All of this is reasonable. Much of the time, if you just hand someone money and cross your fingers that they will use the money to cover basic “survival” expenses that they can’t currently cover, and they will use the time that is freed up from working over time at the minimum wage job to go back to school and make a better life for themselves, you will probably see your money immediately spent on unnecessary things and that person will be stuck on welfare. So, naturally, you have to hyper-regulate how they spend the money, and legislate what that person should do with the extra time the money has provided them. Nobody wants this.
In fact, nobody really wants someone who isn’t like them telling them what to do, even when the resemblances are gross and superficial. Your average poor white male would prefer to have a brash, macho foreman, drill sergeant or cop barking orders at them, than a black female or gay male (or even a male that he might perceive to be too light in the loafers for his taste). He is okay with knowing that other men must lead him because he’s not the sharpest tool in the shed, but if he must be led, let it be by Daddy. If a President appears who doesn’t look like Daddy, this is a deep crisis that goes back to stages of infancy and a time before he even had memories he can recall.
The short term solution is to let him vent against Obama for a few years, and then attempt to elect another Daddy to office. In the meantime, the state actually seems to be increasing its power both as a nanny and a military state. There are more “mommy rules” in place to prevent us from destroying our health, and more “daddy rules” in place to allow the would-be daddys to gleefully slap men down and imprison them if they are caught with marijuana or simply don’t appear to be living as virtuously as they could be. It’s almost like we are headed toward having a state where nobody wins or gets what they want, unless they are among the 1% who are generally above the law. A 1%er who is pro-life will likely have the means to help his daughter get an abortion if she needs one. He will be able to hire his son a lawyer to come up with something as ridiculous as “affluenza” to help his son avoid any jail time whatsoever for recklessly murdering others. A 1%er who is all in for having the government spend more money to create green energy technology to combat man-made climate change will gladly continue to leave a carbon footprint that is identical in size to the one left by a billion of the world’s poorest people.
From my comfortable armchair, and having finally gotten the perspective that comes with early middle age, I can honestly state that I don’t think having a majority of one party or the other in all branches of the government would solve our problems. In all likelihood, either party would completely abuse its power and make a few more laws that leave the rich richer and the poor poorer. What is really needed is a strong media network that is completely and utterly fixated on every single individual and organization who are solving problems outside of the political arena.
You read about them occasionally, and think “wow, why can’t we have more people and groups like this?” But then, their importance and impact seems to be minimized and trivialized as the media shifts its attention back to whatever Congress and the President are doing. It’s really almost a given that Congress and the President are no longer the real places of power, and haven’t been for some time. A media outlet that focuses all of its attention on the machinery behind the scenes that influences our so-called leaders would also be an interesting one to watch. And, I mean one that completely avoids talking about Obama and Boehner and the rest of them at all times.
The success or failure of the average individual isn’t nearly as dependent upon the fate of the nation state as we would like to think. During the years of Bush Jr., I lived with this certainty that he would declare martial law and become a dictator. I believed this because of the way 9/11 was handled–how we created the Patriot Act without any oversight or review and how we rushed into Iraq on the remaining good will and popularity that Bush Jr. still possessed. Except, this didn’t happen, and some years later, Obama has done his share of not living up to his promises to correct the deficiencies in civil liberties we saw during the Bush years. In fact, in some cases, Obama appears to have increased the spying on U.S. citizens and made information from his office less transparent.
During the past ten years, I’ve leaned Libertarian, then Democrat, then back to Libertarian, but certainly not in a rabid, Tea Party sort of way. I’ve watched the economy go up and down drastically and back up again, and have seen the same thing happen with my own personal finances and employment situations. Except, very little of what has happened to me has corresponded very well with which party held power in the Executive or Legislative branches. Only slightly more of my fortune, or lack thereof, has corresponded with the rise and fall and rise of the economy.
Almost all of the things that have “happened” to me have been the direct result of my personal choices. If the personal responsibility crowd was more sincere and pure in their ideology, they wouldn’t be as nearly fixated on our government as they are. They would declare that the government is beyond their ability to fix or control, and look to determine how they can directly improve what’s happening in their own personal spheres.
It’s almost like an addictive substance, though, to switch over to the political news and get caught up in some argument about who is right and wrong. It’s like being immersed in a reality show, soap opera, or sporting event, except there is some element of it being able to more directly impact the “real world.” Meanwhile, there are plenty of people and groups who mostly ignore whatever the government and politicians are doing, and go about their own business, and become extremely successful at whatever it is they are doing. It would seem utterly obvious that a program in a local area that helped a dozen formerly incarcerated individuals get back on their feet and become productive members of society would be a program worth keeping in the headlines until it gets the attention of people with money and influence who can replicate it and spread its success to other parts of the country. Instead, what gets kept in the headlines are statistics that damn our current system, with the only solutions being offered are to either build more private prisons or spend more government dollars on improving the justice system fro the poor so that they receive a fair trial.
Both are possible solutions to a problem, but probably not the ones that worked in realizing successful rehabilitation of a handful of inmates. For them, it was probably a solution that included money from governments, non-profits, and private individuals, but more importantly, was a solution that sought directly to fix what was broken by changing the education of the inmates rather than a solution that waited around for the money to arrive. The same could be said for almost any social issue.
Do we wait around for the next handout, keeping our fingers crossed that our party will win this year, and then watch hopelessly as our party loses, or even more desperately as our party wins, but puts all of its energy into passing legislation to help the moneyed interests that put them into power instead of our own interests?