By the same token, I doubt that the president can truly understand what it is like to be one of us out here watching each president, no matter who we thought he was, morph into the same man over and over again. I believe, as my father did, that since FDR people rarely vote for a president. We vote against the worst of two evils because they all look alike, and because we are driven to our decision by fear of the alternative and the hope that enough difference will prevail to save us – at least for a while.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a different kind of man, an unashamed Liberal who never hid from or knuckled under to the other side. He fought and won a war, but he didn’t start it. I have always believed that Robert Kennedy would have been such a president. He has been dead nearly half a century now, and I still grieve for him. I was sure then and am still convinced that on a beautiful June night in L.A. a light went out in the American people’s collective consciousness and has never been turned on again.
As we all do with age I have often noticed in reevaluating my memories that as Lillian Hellman alluded to in “Pentimento,” the original sketch, faded with time, of a person or incident is often altered by the aged oil of experience. Not so with Bobby. I remember him clearly and sadly, just the way I believed him to be before my idealism turned to cynicism and my faith in government turned to disgust. Perhaps in his case my sentiment overrules my wisdom, but I think not.
It is an obsessively reoccurring question in my mind, would Bobby or anybody have made enough of a difference to avert the time warp we all seem to have entered where every day is the same day, every leader is the same leader, and every question has the same answer? Like rats we seem to be running in place on little wheels. We are on the old military treadmill again. The familiar drum beat of war is hammering its message home, different but the same. Surgical strikes, no boots on the ground, got to stop a monster from killing his own people, but it can wait until next Monday.
The predictable and self serving distortions abound. Ted Cruz thinks we should save the children in Assad’s Syria, but only after we disenfranchise the children who need healthcare here by defunding Obamacare. Rand Paul seems to be confused about the relationship between the Russians and Assad’s government. He seems to think that if Obama had been nicer to Putin, Assad might be out of power by now and the Christians would be safe from the rebels. It is the Egyptian Christians that are having their churches burned and neither Assad nor the rebels have any presence there. John Kerry sounds a lot like Colin Powel these days with absolute certainties and irrefutable intelligence. Same shit, different day, and around and around we go.The mind numbing tedium of a world that sees nothing that can be done except what has always been done, is the mother of alienation. The alienation of the American people from the government that was designed to serve us is palpable. Yet it is a vicious cycle in that the system flourishes because we are alienated, therefore indifferent and we are indifferent because the system flourishes.
Unlike modern presidents, I think Lincoln would have understood our alienation. That is what he was talking about; a man alienated from his reason, his power and his wisdom with no one to turn to because he is alienated from his fellows as well. In some ways we are driven to indifference as Lincoln was driven to his knees. He because he was trying to do a job that was nearly impossible to do. We because we are inundated with politicians all stamped out of the same cookie press with varying degrees of intellect and eloquence. We are saturated with disinformation that reinforces a sliding scale for truth and morality based upon political or economic gain and partisan advantage. Our options have dried up. We live in a monochromatic wasteland where originality and imagination have been banished.
So, I will go to my rose garden and listen for the voice of the Goddess there. I will look for truth in the changing of the seasons; the yielding of the South Wind to the power of the North; rain’s end and snow’s beginning. In the sameness and routine of Earth one can find subtle differences by way of reward for simply looking. The seeking always leads to one implacable truth. We belong to this planet and this planet belongs to us, we grow and evolve together – we are the same and there can be no alienation, no limiting of options and no artificial boundaries within which we languish in the wasteland.