can america handle the truth?

We’ve talked here in the past about the willingness of Americans to accept the sobering reality of our current situation, here on the precipice overlooking peak oil and global warming doom. Even the best of us, I’m sure, are tempted to look the other way, hum a pleasant tune, and ignore it until it can no longer be ignored. Clearly, if we’re going to survive it, we need a leader both willing and able to paint a viable and attractive vision of the future for us, and invite us to join in the effort. It’ll be risky. Asking people to forgo their far-flung subdivisions, begin supporting local agriculture, sell their SUVs for scrap, and drastically cut their consumption could bring out the worst in people.

I know I’ve said it here before, but that’s the thing that bothers me most about the way Bush handled 911. He had everyone in the US willing to sacrifice and do what was necessary, and, instead of laying out a long-term plan, he just asked us to keep doing what we do best — consuming.

So, assuming our next President doesn’t just ignore reality, and actually tries to rally support for real, substantive change, what are the chances that he or she will be successful? I know that Obama is running on a campaign of “change,” but do people actually have any idea how significant that change is likely to be?

Here’s how our pal Jim Kunstler puts it:

…I’m concerned that the American people will hate the new president if he tells them the truth: that an old way of life is over and a new one has to begin now. We’re about to find out how much “change” the public can really stand…

So, what do you think? Can America stomach reality? And, is it possible that our new President could package and sell change in such a way as to not alienate and anger a huge percentage of Americans? Assuming Obama wins the White House, what chance is there that he can pull it off?

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13 Comments

  1. Ol' E Cross
    Posted March 3, 2008 at 11:38 pm | Permalink

    Oh, and I also think Obama has the right message (which is similar to Edwards). While appreciate diplomacy and compromise can feel like betrayal to those closest to a cause, I still like preserving freedom of belief.

    I think the best course with Christians isn’t to debate whether gayness or any number of things (drinking, smoking, movie watching) is right or wrong, but to point out Jesus command number two (after loving God) is loving neighbor as well as perceived “enemy.” That all folk have human dignity and the right to love, marriage, and health care, whether or not you agree with their choices, is key. In converse, that all folk have the right to moral/religious belief, however primitive they seem, doesn’t diminish their humanity.

    If getting us to view each other as common, in essence, if not action, is one of his aims, I hope he can pull it off.

  2. Ol' E Cross
    Posted March 3, 2008 at 11:40 pm | Permalink

    I think I meant to put my above comment under “torture in the workplace.”

    It’s getting late. You know me.

    But, on this post, I’d just say, “No, not yet.”

  3. Tommy
    Posted March 4, 2008 at 6:54 am | Permalink

    To answer your last three questions:

    No
    No
    None

  4. Edwards Fan
    Posted March 4, 2008 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    He can’t tackle it all at once. He’ll have to lead people into it one step at a time. First, he needs to announce that our tax dollars, instead of going to Iraq, will be going toward infrastructure, education, a national rail system, and alternative energy. We need massive investment in these areas. The good news is, it will create jobs. And, then we need to seriously tax consumption.

  5. Posted March 4, 2008 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    Obama’s slogan is Yes We Can. Here’s why I believe that:

    “Change” will not happen overnight. Obama’s strength is that he will listen to the people and make an honest and sincere effort to implement change. But obviously, it’s a process. But just to work towards a positive goal and move the country in a different direction will feel good, and that’s all we need right now, is to start moving. Just start moving, start changing, and the very PROCESS of doing that will make all the difference. The act of beginning will be inspiring, it will be “hopefull”, and I really think it’s what this nation needs, is to work together towards agreed upon goals.

    You know, Obama has that charismatic ability to motivate people to act for change. He’s inspiring. And it’s not like everything is in Obama’s hands. It’s up to the people to stand up and start working, start doing, start changing. But Obama is the one who has the ability to empower those who typically feel hopeless and have little faith in this country.

    The US is still is great country in many ways. It’s time to start looking at the positives and put all the negatives behind us. The past is in the past but with Obama’s leadership it’s an opportunity to move forward into right now – what we can do today.

    To answer your last question, doesn’t everyone at least agree that Obama has a better chance than Hillary?

    And for all those sinister people out there saying no, no, no, none, no chance, we’re doomed, ect, let me ask you this: Does having that attitude help? Are you really saying that there IS no hope, that there’s nothing that can be done, that everything is irreversible and that nothing is going to change?

    I’ll tell you this – go ahead and think that there’s no chance of change and go ahead and spread that around and put those vibes out in our community. What I’m going to is be optimistic and believe that we CAN accomplish whatever we want to accomplish. Our whole community is a team, our whole state is a team, our whole nation is a team, and our whole world is a team. We have to work together as a team and belive as a team and take responsiblity as a team. If you tell me it can’t be done I’m just going to laugh and keep doing what I do. I believe that there’s more to gain by being positive and believing that change can happen.

  6. Posted March 4, 2008 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    I’m sick of hearing that Americans need to have tough news candy coated with an “attractive vision”.

    Tough up. How about “you’d better hurry up and clean up your act or you’re going to be picking through the trash to feed your stupid cake-hole”?

    “Sell me an attractive vision.”, how about “Fuck off”?

  7. maryd
    Posted March 4, 2008 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

    I second Cousins Vinyl…

  8. Posted March 4, 2008 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

    Let me add something else and put it this way: it’s a good thing that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr kept fighting for change and refused to believe that it couldn’t be done. Revolutions have happened throughout history, you either make it happen or you don’t.

  9. egpenet
    Posted March 4, 2008 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

    We are WAY beyond the point of some intellectual debate about Global Warming, Energy resources and the Debt Crisis.

    There’s nothing more to say. Don’t waste your breath.

    The poles are melting. The oil is running out. Coal is available, but won’t fit in my tank. If liquified, burns badly. We are making ethanol with our food (corn), which is inflating our grocery prices. And the credit crisis is about to bring down the international banking system.

    All of this is actually happening now.

    Stay home. Enjoy what’s on TV. Hang on for the ride. It’s NOT the end of the world, just the end of the world as you might remember it.

  10. mark
    Posted March 4, 2008 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

    I know where Mr. Cherry’s coming from. I share his frustration with the masses. Believe me, I don’t find a lot of joy in the thought that we need to convert millions of these shallow, fearful, suburban zombies to the cause. Like Steve, I find it hard to believe that they’ll ever be worth the effort. It seems to me that everyone deserves a chance though. It’s not as though we’ve had leaders these past several decades that have told us the truth about our situation. We owe them that much. The American people need to be presented with the facts. Then, if they want to come along, and try to fix things with us, that’s great. If they don’t, however, they can have Texas and Florida. Like Steve, I don’t want to carry anyone, especially if it’s against his or her will… But, hopefully, things don’t get to that point. Hopefully we elect someone who will rise to the challenge and find a way to build consensus around what needs to be done. I’d like it if our nation could stay intact. I’ve kind of grown to love it… And, like Cousins said, what’s the sense in going on if there isn’t hope for something better?

  11. Posted March 5, 2008 at 11:23 pm | Permalink

    “Hopefully we elect someone who will rise to the challenge and find a way to build consensus around what needs to be done.”

    I can see now that I’m going to need a lot more ammo than I previously thought.

  12. mark
    Posted March 5, 2008 at 11:57 pm | Permalink

    If you take care of Texas, Florida and Ohio, I think we’ll be OK.

  13. Kirk
    Posted March 6, 2008 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    “I share his frustration with the masses. Believe me, I don’t find a lot of joy in the thought that we need to convert millions of these shallow, fearful, suburban zombies to the cause. Like Steve, I find it hard to believe that they’ll ever be worth the effort. It seems to me that everyone deserves a chance though…”

    Mark – Reading your comment I couldn’t help thinking how much it sounds like a statement from Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh. People on the right see you and I part of the sleeping masses in need of conversion.

    I prefer to find common goals with people on the right rather than try to convert them. They don’t want to be converted any more than I do. This common ground does exist, especially in community based organizations like neighborhood groups or Friends of the Freighthouse or Growing Hope.

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