Prediction: An Opening on the Left

03Sep11

Maybe that protester carrying the sign had a point.  The sign said something like, “Government – keep your hands off my Medicare!”  In two regards.  First, the person was clueless, and therefore is apt to be easily led; and second, the person’s sentiments were decidedly socialistic, regardless of how the Tea Party (with whom s/he was affiliated, as I recall) may be painted.

I’ve heard suggestions that, actually, the Tea Party is a rather leftist movement.  Given the political absurdities we’ve seen in the past several decades, it is conceivable that a charismatic leftist, mouthing the right formula for God, guns, and glory, could begin to draw support for a devolutionary socialism in which Social Security, Medicare, and other sources of financial support for the have-nots come to be seen as rather apolitical – as givens, something like the currency, the military, and voting itself.  Indeed, we may already be there, lacking only the charismatic leftist.

Nobody questions these things – voting, I mean, and the need for a military, and at some basic level the need to facilitate survival for the vast majority of the public in hard times.  Demands for anything resembling laissez-faire capitalism will be simply disregarded – they may actually be a good way to persuade people to try to kill you – if push comes to shove and too many of us are seriously at risk of disability or death due to disease, exposure, or starvation.

These conditions are not yet ripe; hence, we don’t yet have the left-wing demagogue who would ride any such wave.  But the midterm elections of 2014 could provide an opening for such a development, if a double-dip recession does unfold.  My sense, at present, is that the first dip of the Great Recession – which many people seem to have construed as  a pause on the way back to financial stability and growth – may instead prove to be a mere glimpse of the real free-fall.

Should something like that develop – and at this point, I’m giving it 51% – the cries on the left may be so sharp, by 2014, as to yank Obama out of his rightist reverie, back to his roots and, possibly, his passion.  The prospect persuades me to bump the odds of his eventual perceived greatness from 15% up to 20%.

My point here is that, by 2016, the country may be as consciously prepared for an evolved, subtle socialism as it has been at any time since the 1960s.  In that event, Obama may hand the mantle to a leader, emerging perhaps in 2014, who will have both the ability and the motivation to drive toward a fundamental change in public perceptions of the social contract, and of the national and local government that supposeldy derive therefrom.

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