Three Summers

Gentlemen, progress has never been a bargain. You’ve got to pay for it. Sometimes I think there’s a man behind a counter who says, ‘All right, you can have a telephone; but you’ll have to give up privacy, the charm of distance. Madam, you may vote; you lose the right to retreat behind a powder-puff or a petticoat. Mister, you may conquer the air; but the birds will lose their wonder, and the clouds will smell of gasoline!’
– Henry Drummond, “Inherit the Wind” by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee

Remember the summer of 2008. We dared hope a black man could be elected president. After the long, dark years of a Republican Administration – perhaps the most inept and damaging administration in our nation’s history – we dared hope the world was about to change.
  
Go to YouTube, and listen to Dave Stewart’s “American Prayer, and see if you can’t recapture, for just a moment, that season of awe and wonder.
 
That was the summer many of us discovered Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight. The math, after a while, seemed undeniable – but we’d all been fooled before. Then, when Barack Obama actually won, it amazed, it thrilled, it excited. Do you remember watching the rally in Chicago on election night? Can you return to that moment, even for an instant?
 
By the following summer, things already had changed, not always for the better. The Summer of Hope gave way to the Summer of Town Hall Riots. The backlash was in full swing. Never underestimate the human capacity to misrepresent and to bear false witness.
 
In the midst of the attempt to follow through on the signature promise of the campaign, the crowning achievement of three generations of Democratic presidents – real health care reform – the response from the right was nothing short of insane. But we should have expected it. Progress has never been a bargain.
But health care reform was enacted, the biggest and most exciting change in public policy since the 1940’s. Yet it was embedded in a toxic political atmosphere, and in the midst of the worst worldwide economic crisis in nearly a century. it required compromise. It was not all we’d wanted. Yet the fear-based response of the right continued to mount.
 
Thus we came to the summer of 2010, the Summer of the Tea Party Rebellion. The world has indeed changed. Children growing up today will live in an America that has always had a black president. The Democratic majority in Congress, large as it was, never had a coherency or discipline. For a brief six months, there were sixty Democratic senators – Al Franken won his recount – and then the conscience of the Senate, the last of the Kennedy brothers, fell to cancer.
 
Did Drummond’s “man behind the counter” say to us, “You may have Barack Obama; but you lose Ted Kennedy. You may have the most exciting president in a generation – but you get a Congress of Republican obstructionists who will grind government to a halt. You get real and meaningful Health Care Reform. But you get a backlash against it all, a mindless resurgence of hate and of reactionary fervor we have not seen since the days of Lincoln.”
 
Perhaps that last is a bit overblown. Certainly, today’s Tea Party has rivals in things more recent than the 1860s – we probably need look no farther back than Selma, or than the McCarthy hearings and the Red scares. Oddly, those periods also involved massive progress for our nation.
 
But then, the fear from the 1950s and 1960s did eventually subside – or perhaps we should say, it fell back to a low simmer rather than a full boil. Perhaps it is not so much that violence and hatred are the cost of progress. Perhaps progress is a response to the fear that lies beneath the hate.
And what will the Summer of the Tea Party beget? If the previous two summers mean anything, we will continue forward – but at a cost.

About dcpetterson

D. C. Petterson is a novelist and a software consultant in Minnesota who has been writing science fiction since the age of six. He lives with his wife, two dogs, a cat, and two lizards, and insists that grandchildren are the reward for having survived teenagers. When not writing stories or software, he plays guitar, engages in political debate, and reads a lot of history and physics texts for fun.
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28 Responses to Three Summers

  1. Monotreme says:

    Maybe violence and anger is the response to the feeling that “things are moving too fast”.Maybe violence and anger co-evolve with progress, in a complex grapevine-like movement.

  2. GROG says:

    DC, did you really think America, of all places, was going to sit back and accept this radical, European type socialist agenda quietly? Really? You people on the left are so out of touch with the reality of the American spirit that it’s not even pathetic anymore. It’s down right funny. @Monotreme. What violence are you talking about? The conservative revolution has been overwhelmingly peaceful. If you think the Obama agenda is what Americans want, why are Democrats running from him like the plague? Why aren’t they running on a platform of pro Obamacare, pro cap and trade, pro tax increases, pro mosque at ground zero, pro illegal immigrant, pro spending money we don’t have, pro record deficits and record debt. Are there any Dems out there running these things in campaign ads?The far left is becoming more and more removed from main stream America every day. I don’t know whether to laugh at them or cry for them.

  3. filistro says:

    Fear of progress is, of course, simply fear of change. That’s why we call conservatives “reactionary”…. they are terrified of change. (I guess that’s also why we call them “conservative”, come to think of it.)Rather odd since they are, generally speaking, deeply dissatisfied with the status quo. You’d think they would WELCOME some change… but they resist it tooth and nail. Could it be they sense instinctively that change and progress always involve leftward moves… and those leftward moves are irreversible? I can’t offhand recall any bit of progress on any social issue that has ever been reversed. Women’s suffrage, civil rights, abortion rights, gay rights… once they become part of the social fabric, they never go away. You might say there is no “R” gear in the social progress vehicle… only a “D” gear.

  4. GROG says:

    Our comments are now being moderated?

  5. filistro says:

    What makes you think so, GROG?

  6. GROG says:

    I just had a great post that said it was being “moderated” and never showed up.It had to do with how I shocked I am that the far left really thought America was going to sit back quietly and accept this radical, far left, administration quietly. Really? You thought America, of all places, wasn’t going to rise up and be heard? Can someone answer me this? Why aren’t Democrats running this fall on a platform of pro Obamacare, pro stimulus, pro cap and trade, pro spending money we don’t have, pro record debt and deficits, pro mosque at ground zero, pro illegal immigration? Can anyone name a single Democrat running these thing in campaing ads?And monotreme, the conservative rebellion has been overwhelmingly peaceful. Don’t pretend it hasn’t.

  7. GROG says:

    I do kind of wish we had a preview option so I could fix all my annoying typos. This site has been great, though. Thanks to all who have made it happen.

  8. shiloh says:

    Re: progressJoined the USN in 1976 and one of the first witticisms encountered:United States Navy, 200 years of history unhampered by progress!andWe’ve done so much with so little for so long, we’re now capable of doing anything w/nothing!Good ship, good crew, f*ck you, turn to!For all you non swabbies out there 😉 turn to means get back to work!>@grogI just had a great post …~~~~~~~~~~Surely you can’t be serious …

  9. Number Seven says:

    GROG, about the annoying typos. Scroll down to the little gold buttons under the place you write your post. One is called ‘check spelling’.Or are you just admitting you only look at the first few lines of anything then post more emotional rants?

  10. filistro says:

    Speaking of the past two “summers of our discontent”… I just heard the DOW is currently on track to record the best September in 71 years. Hmmm…

  11. Number Seven says:

    Violence and anger most definitely go hand in hand with progress. I am thinking of the great movement for unions in the beginning of the twentieth century when the working class won. And of course, Nazi Germany when the aquisitor class won.Shall we progress towards the benefit of the working class or the aquisitor class? Only time will tell.The Tea Party would have been a great thing if they picked the right enemy. The enemy is not government per say, it is the amassing of wealth into the hands of the few.

  12. GROG says:

    7said:”Or are you just admitting you only look at the first few lines of anything then post more emotional rants?”I only do that with shiloh’s posts.

  13. DC Petterson says:

    Grog – “… how I shocked I am that the far left really thought America was going to sit back quietly and accept this radical, far left, administration quietly.”I’m sorry, I don’t know which administration you mean. What you are describing does not resemble any administration in the last – well, ever.See my comments above about “the human capacity to misrepresent and to bear false witness.”

  14. GROG says:

    @DC,You need not look further than Obamacare and cap and trade. They are radical and far left and do not have the support of the American people.

  15. DC Petterson says:

    Mr. Grog,I would remind you that much of the objection to the Health Care bill came from the left, because it didn’t go far enough. Furthermore, since it closely follows the Republican outline from the early 1990’s, it can hardly be called “radical left.” It’s sad that you’ve been fooled into apparently believing the silliness you wrote.As for cap and trade – please provide links to surveys on that issue. I’m unaware of opinion polls of people who are aware of what’s actually in the proposed legislation.In any case, whether a given suggested course is popular is unrelated to whether it is leftist, rightist, useful, good idea, bad idea. It has mostly to do with the nature of the advertising, just as one soft drink’s popularity may unaccountably exceed that of another.Richard Nixon was the first politician to hire an advertising company, to oversee his successful 1968 presidential run. Since then, America’s political discourse has resembled American Idol, far more than actual reasoned debate. If you feel strongly about these issues, try to discuss them in rational tones. Provide reasons for or against your position, not mere labels – leftist, radical, etc. Those are nonsense words, like “tastiest” or “most bubbly,” “less filling.” Wy do you object to Health Care Reform or Cap and Trade legislation? What do you fear?

  16. shortchain says:

    Right, that left-wing and that left-wing mandate that forms the backbone of the ACA.Grog, do go to those links and see who proposed these ideas originally.

  17. shiloh says:

    @grogI only do that with shiloh’s posts.~~~~~~~~~~As long as you’re still infatuated/obsessed/captivated/enamored/fascinated 😉 er paying attention to all of my posts …Will remain truly honored !!! by your continued 24/7 interest in my opinions! :)take care grog

  18. GROG says:

    Obamacare and cap and trade are just two examples of how the purpose of the Obama agenda is to have as much control over people’s lives as possible. The purpose is to expand the nanny state to all Americans. The left has succeeded in creating this nanny state in the African American community in inner city America and they won’t stop until they have woven it into the fabric of all American life. What better way to control lives than to control the health care industry and to control how much each American or American business “pollutes”. It’s genious really.

  19. DC Petterson says:

    Grog,What part of the new health care bill do you see as “controlling”? – (other than the mandate requiring insurance; since that was a Republican idea, you may not complain about that).Do you see all consumer protection laws as “controlling” people? Would you prefer having maggots in your ground beef, and lead paint in your childrens’ toys?Similarly for cap and trade. Do you approve of pollution that causes health problems, alters the environment, and costs you money? Since industry is not acting in the interests of the nation, is there a problem with We the People, through our elected government, requiring corporations to act in our interest? Isn’t that what government is supposed to do?

  20. Bart DePalma says:

    DC:Some items:The Tea Part rebellion started in April 2009 when we put over half a million folks in the streets on Tax Day. It continued through the August town hall meetings and then to a bit short of a million marching on Washington on 9/12. You only think things started in 2010 because the Dem press ignored the Tea Party until we elected Scott Brown.The only violence during the Tea Party rebellion were SEIU thugs beating up Tea Party folks last year.The only racism came from certain African American legislators and their aides lying abut being called N_____ by Tea Party protestors.The only hate has been expressed by those who call us names without having once ever attended a Tea Party rally and talked to a Tea Party member.

  21. DC Petterson says:

    Mr. DePalmaYou only think things started in 2010 Not at all. I did not trace the history of the Tea Party. I noted only that they had more impact by summer of 2010 than they did in 2009. I am aware that FOX News coined the term Teabaggers for them long before the summer of 2010.The only violence during the Tea Party rebellion were SEIU thugs beating up Tea Party folks last year.You are free to provide evidence for this accusation.African American legislators and their aides lying abut being called N_____Even Republican legislators have acknowledged that this actually happened. Your inability to accept reality is duly noted.The only hate has been expressed by those who call us names

  22. Bart DePalma says:

    DC: How is this current government controlling? You are kidding, right?Obama nationalized GM and Chrysler while leaving their retirement fund secured bond holders with pennies.Obama fired the CEO of a private company and tried to set the salaries of financial sector employees.Obama attempted and largely failed to strong arm mortgage lenders into giving away interest and principle to defaulting borrowers, the vast majority who never should have been given loans in the first instance.Obamacare compels you to buy government approved health insurance on terms set by the government and, if Sebelius gets her way, at prices set by the government. My HSA has already been outlawed.Obama’s new CAFE standards are on the way to outlawing my Jeep.Obama’s Commerce Department is en route to outlawing my incandescent lightbulbs and mandate that I buy expensive and hazardous fluorescent bulbs with piss poor light quality.Obama’s Cap & Tax bill will all but outlaw my use of fossil fuels by 2050 unless I pay corrupt indulgences in the form of carbon offsets.Tyrannies large and small are the hallmark of this government.

  23. Bart DePalma says:

    DC:I have been a member of the Tea Party since the beginning and extensively reported on its progress on my blog. Search for Tea Party on my blog and you will find literally dozens of posts with links to videos and news reports on the subjects I mentioned.You can also go to Youtube and finds about a half dozen video segments with clear audio of the African American Congress critters walking through the Tea Party demonstration with nary a racial epithet to be heard. Just chants of “kill the bill.” Jesse Jackson, Jr. was recording the proceedings himself and was free to release any evidence of recial epithets. The smear that the Tea Party protesters were chanting N______ was a racist lie.

  24. DC Petterson says:

    Yes, Mr. DePalma, the Obama Administration took bold steps to prevent another Great Depression. You may not like it, but I understand you are still employed. A recent nonpartisan group of economists determined that the unemployment rate would be near 12% if we had done nothing. It may be sad for you that America still survives, but many of the rest of us approve of that.The consumer protections in the Health Care bill are actually the part that America likes. You’re free to go put maggots into your own steak, if you don’t like consumer protection. And since the insurance mandate was a Republican idea, you may not use that against Obama. You lose the debate as of now.It is understood that you object to industry regulation. If you have children, please send them to Somalia where they will not have to suffer in safety.The rest of your comments are silly enough to not require comment. As I’ve already noted, you seem to have a problem with reality. It has been interesting talking with a paranoid schizophrenic. Thanks for the experience.

  25. shiloh says:

    Bart your Obama fetish is quite endearing! ;)Time for another posting of Bart’s whining, moaning/groaning, sore loser, sour grape Cry me a River hyperbole …“Our Republic Has Stumbled, But Has Not Yet Fallen”My descriptive phrases do not begin to do justice to the damage these policies are doing to the country.April 23, 2010 10:46 AMI wonder whether I live in America anymore when the government imposes its will in opposition to the people. That is what ruling classes do, not representatives of the people.May 2, 2010 4:21 PM~~~~~~~~~~As Bart has been crying for the last (2) years and he’s still crying.Let’s hear it for consistency! ;)take care, blessings

  26. Jungle Jim says:

    I have a question for the Teapers:Since the Republicans caused this depression?/recession?, how is more of the same going to fix it?

  27. Bart DePalma says:

    DC:To add to the list or tyrannies above, Obamacare compels insurers to extend coverage for preexisting conditions allowing folks to buy insurance when they get sick and drop it again when they no longer need it to pay the bills.A similar Romneycare mandate in MA has driven nearly all the insurers out of the market and the Obamacare mandate for kids has now driven nearly all of the child-only policies out of the market, leaving somewhere between 100,000 and 700,000 kids covered by these policies without insurance.http://citizen-pamphleteer.blogspot.com/search?q=democracy+corpsThe unintended casualties of economic central planning by clueless politicians and bureaucrats.

  28. shrinkers says:

    Bart, do you obey all the tyrannical traffic laws?Your talk of “tyranny” just makes you look silly. Are all Teapers that nuts, or is it only you?By the way, you never did tell us if you taste your dog food before you buy it.

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