i know it’s been a long time since i’ve posted here and there are good reasons for that: i’ve been writing on our production company blog instead and doing really ridiculous things like starting stupid new websites for no particular reason and of course making movies and one-man shows and crap. so … whatevs, but it is the silly season! tomorrow night is the first general election Presidential debate and though i’ll be busy screaming out names of short film scripts every 8-10 minutes in the Valley, i’ll be thinking about the debates and pouring over the videos in the days afterwards. now if you know me, you know i’m a political junkie. a complete news addict who watches hours and hours of news shows every single week – many of them multiple times.
but actually the truth is, it’s not even news or politics that i’m into per se. it’s history. i love the crap out of history. i’ve loved it ever since high school when i read Orson Scott Cards’ “Red Prophet“. Mr Card brought real historical figures into the story, the Shawnee warrior Tecumseh and his brother the prophet Tenskwatawa and while reading the book i found myself with my speech class in the library. we were supposed to be doing research for some upcoming speech (yes, this was before Google), but i had just hit a really climactic point in the book right before class and couldn’t think of anything else. then it hit me: i could actually research what happened in real life to the REAL Tecumseh and Tenskwatawa. so i cracked open an encylopedia and in about 3 minutes, depressed the crap outta myself. later that night (SPOILER ALERT! skip the rest of this paragraph and the next paragraph as well if you plan on reading this book and don’t want to know details about how it ends.) i finished the book and Card apparently decided to change what happened! i couldn’t believe it! it really threw me for a loop.
two people named ‘Tecumseh’ and ‘Tenskwatawa’ did exist in the real world, but they were very different than these characters. they probably never met a young boy of European descent with extremely powerful magical abilities for instance. and yet i was so pleased that the lives of these fictional characters worked out so much better than those of their real counterparts – not because the fiction was better, but because the fiction had been a possibility … minus the magic parts of course. Tecumseh might have been successful – perhaps not in the long run, but if just a couple of things had happened differently – if Tenskwatawa had been less proud and hungry for glory, Tecumseh might have had a few successes, perhaps even paved the way for fairer treatment of later tribes and nations. and it was that simple distinction that got me hooked on history. i realized in that moment – and everything i’ve read or seen since continues to prove it to me – that everything that has ever happened … almost didn’t.
news and politics are just tomorrow’s history unfolding before our eyes, and that’s exciting to me. as i research what has happened before, and then compare that to what is happening around us today, i try to feel the ebbs and flows of political movements; of ideals and collective visions for the future; concepts of what is considered acceptable or commonplace from generation to generation. the fact that substantial portions of both societies considered the world’s first Democracies – the early US and the Ancient Greeks – allowed for slavery, while owning human beings as property was considered barbaric in many European Aristocratic societies during the early US years – this fact is a fascinating dichotomy. how could so many of our deeply humanistic forefathers be so blind to the deep contradictions of their lives?
and yet i’m seeing similar contradictions alive and well today. why for instance do these billionaires, like Leon Cooperman, feel so abused? they’re already billionaires, for craps sake! what do they have to complain about? i mean honestly, talk about First World Problems!
when did capitalism become synonymous with Democracy? and when did ‘fairness’ become a dirty word? can’t these guys see that they’re actually part of a society? that they actually live amongst other human beings? and that the very models of more and more of the businesses they fund are actually meant to financially entrap people? to feed off their overdraft fees and late payments and usurious interest rates? are we supposed to just sit back and let them game systems and markets and lobby to loosen regulations until the divide between the rich and the poor becomes insurmountable?
yes, i know that many of them have worked their asses off over their lives to get where they are, but they seem to believe that the accumulation of wealth is the ONLY worthwhile goal in life – or at least the only life choice worthy of compensation. they act as if people who devote their lives to educating, protecting and enriching the lives of others in a variety of different ways – besides you know, buying them crap because you’re so effing rich – that anybody who devotes their lives to “pointless” things like that should just get used to the idea of living hand-to-mouth every day? you want to be a teacher in these United States? prepare to die poor.
they just seem entirely ignorant of the myriad ways we’ve turned our great nation into a massive trickle-up economic paradise for the ultra-wealthy. i imagine they deride countries like Germany, Canada & the UK for finding ways to protect their middle classes from utter debt slavery. i just don’t understand what the Leon Coopermans of the world want. to be treated by everyone at every moment like the gods into which the money they’ve already acquired makes them? i just don’t understand what they want. a freaking parade? they got Citizens United – making it a legal fact that they have more of a right to free speech than the rest of us by virtue of all the money they have.
as fellow members of this great nation, we have every right to shape our society any way we want. they’ve had their trickle-up economy for thirteen years now – since the ouster of Brooksley Born and the repeal of Glass-Steagall. i think it’s time less ideological hands had a turn at the wheel. what’s absolutely disgusting however is that thanks to the filibuster and this two-party trap our oldest democracy has set itself, something far more game-changing has to occur than a Democratic Congress, but those are all issues for another day. the first few hurdles are purely philosophical. like in Alcoholics Anonymous, we need to first recognize that there IS a problem, and that more of the same is NOT the solution.
we need to see that Democracies CAN have Socialistic qualities as well as Capitalistic, and that perhaps a good balance of both (ala Germany – they seem to be doing okay, don’t they?) is the key to a happy and healthy Democracy in this day and age. you could argue about what the founding fathers would or would not have wanted until you’re blue in the face, but i for one think they’d agree with me on this – or at least my hero Ben Franklin would. Franklin would also fight against the Leon Coopermans of the world like he fought against the Penns – the ridiculously pretend-aggrieved ultra-wealthy of his time.