The history of America has been cyclical, like the history of everything—except cycles. The trouble however with looking at history or society in this manner is that (1) we don’t often know just where in the cycle we currently sit and (2) we can’t divorce that concept from the even older but no less valid concept of the wheel of fortune.
No not that “Wheel of Fortune” where letters reveal words that translate into cash and prizes, though if you’ve seen anyone land on BANKRUPT you already grasp the idea—the wheel is frequently unkind. So it is with us, both individually and as a country.
The wheel of the goddess Fortuna goes back twenty centuries and is usually seen as divided into four levels. If it were the face of a clock, then staring at about 8:00 o’clock and going clockwise would (1) I shall reign, (2) I reign (at noon), (3) I have reigned (3:00 o’clock) and finally (4) the unfortunate but inevitable I have no kingdom which sits glumly at the bottom.
I thought about this while “experiencing” the Republican Convention last week. To listen to the speakers and the candidate, one would think America resided at the bottom of that wheel, and that a new bottom was being added to account for the fact that our current president had brought us so very low, you know, with that health care and employment and such.
We all know that everyone plays to the crowd that adores him, and so it isn’t surprising that the rabble that descended on (ascended to?) Cleveland last week screamed for the murder of their opponent—a wife, mother, and grandmother who unlike her opponent scotch-taped together a faltering marriage rather than splinter a family, or two, or three. That kind of strength of character might be deserving of a little more than strident calls for her summary demise by a band of insolent yahoos waving placards and TicTac-ing away the alcohol on their breath.
But already that’s past history. They can’t unsay what they’ve said, and we don’t know what affliction they may have set off in some fear-addled mind. But I hope the Democrats can establish some civility—can rein in their delegates so that they don’t talk of firing squads and murder, so that they don’t vilify their opponents with provocative and incendiary language—not when the truth will damn their opponent just as well…or better.
That Trump is a liar and a cheat, a con-man and a bully, a bigot and a racist, an narcissist and a blowhard—those are statements I can make. I can defend them all, and so can every delegate in Philadelphia. But for me to babble my opinions in some blog is a lot different from having a delegate pronounce them from the podium or the convention floor. (Does anyone not see Chris Christie as an utterly degraded fool after his attack last week?) The Democrats need to assert the fact that here in America we’re actually near the top of that wheel—that with some tweaking here and there we can ascend even further. The facts will speak for themselves if the Democrats can avoid the Duck Dynasty attitude their counterparts employed so shamefully last week. Here’s hoping.