A Fraught Moment

A Fraught Moment by James Howard Kunstler

The last time the Democratic Party blew up in a presidential election year was 1860. It had evolved from Jefferson’s 1800 bloc of yeoman farmers to Andrew Jackson’s rowdy caucus of frontier populists in the 1830s, and settled into a slough of pro-slavery apologists by the 1850s, including two do-nothing Democratic presidents, Pierce and Buchanan. The party held a nominating convention in the spring of 1860 and couldn’t come up with a candidate when a claque of southern “fire-eaters” walked out. They tried again a few months later and cracked up into three separate parties with three nominees — and of course Mr. Lincoln won the election. The result was the bloodiest war in US history.

That’s one way to drain a swamp. Historical obfuscators might say the Civil War was a lofty, legalistic quarrel over “state’s rights,” but of course it was really about the intolerable depravity of slavery. A hundred years later, the mysterious inversions of history converted the old slaver’s party into the Civil Rights party. That had a good fifty-year run. It included a hearty side-dish of anti-war sentiment, and a general disposition against the Big Brother treatment of citizens, including especially the overreach of the CIA and the FBI.

What is the Democratic Party today? Well, it’s the cheerleading squad for “seventeen” government agencies that add up to the craftily-labeled “intel community,” a warm-and-fuzzy coalition of snoops, false witnesses, rogue lawfare cadres, seditionists, and bad-faith artists working sedulously to hide their previous misdeeds with ever-fresh ones. They’re the party against free speech, the party against due process of law, the party determined to provoke war with Russia. They’re the party of sexual confusion, sexual hysteria, and sexual conflict, the party of kangaroo courts, cancel culture, erasing boundaries (including national borders), and of making up rules for all that as they go along — like the Nazis and Soviets used to do. The ideas and policies they advocate are so comprehensively crazy that their old support of slavery looks quaintly straightforward in comparison.

It’s taken a while for the full efflorescence of these political pathologies to present. But now they are finally on display for all to see in what is supposed to be a climactic impeachment melodrama. The impeachment process itself has revealed the party’s genius for inventing new debaucheries of law and government misconduct — the latest being Rep Adam Schiff’s blatantly illegal cadging of his opponents’ phone logs. And now, after three years of unchallenged wickedness, they literally face the moment of truth.

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James Howard Kunstler

James Howard Kunstler says he wrote The Geography of Nowhere, “Because I believe a lot of people share my feelings about the tragic landscape of highway strips, parking lots, housing tracts, mega-malls, junked cities, and ravaged countryside that makes up the everyday environment where most Americans live and work.” Home From Nowhere was a continuation of that discussion with an emphasis on the remedies. A portion of it appeared as the cover story in the September 1996 Atlantic Monthly. His next book in the series, The City in Mind: Notes on the Urban Condition, published by Simon & Schuster / Free Press, is a look a wide-ranging look at cities here and abroad, an inquiry into what makes them great (or miserable), and in particular what America is going to do with it’s mutilated cities.