A friend who grows radishes in England has joined me in a quest for reasons for optimism about the United States, from which he emigrated a few years ago.
Another friend, who like the two of us once committed journalism for a living, opined that Republicans in Wisconsin and in the U.S. House of Representatives have "gone too far" and ignited a political back-fire.
We wanted to be persuaded but weren't, even though folks like Keith Olbermann and Robert Reich support the notion.
Suppose, for a moment, that the disgusting antics of the Republican majority in the House have, in fact, turned many independents and even a few intelligent Republicans against the party's extremism. What would be the practical result?
Perhaps a few Democratic spines in the Senate might be stiffened against some of the more outrageous bills spewing out of the House. But Harry Reid & Co. have already caved in on the big battle of this session: they've accepted as real the Republican Deficit Bogeyman and the only question is how deep will the cuts be in essential services and programs. With near record unemployment, with retirement savings decimated for millions of older Americans, with the poorest health care in the civilized world, with urban infrastructure decayed and failing, we'll disembowel the programs we need most.
We'll keep excreting trillions on unwinnable wars, to beef up the profits of the defense and energy industries.
Having maintained the fiction of a government of, by and for "the people" by making corporations people, all of the real people will lie down and expose their throats for convenient stomping by the hobnailed boots of Big Business.
But if folks really are steamed about what the Republicans are doing with their majorities, we will re-elect Barack Obama in 2012 and restore Democratic majorities in Congress. Obama will make more concessions to the corporate oligarchs, post more foxes to guard more public henhouses, take away more civil liberties, and move the country still further to the right. His second term policies will be virtually indistinguishable from Bush II's second-term policies. You know, the ones that almost caused a second Great Depression.
The new Democrats in Congress will be clones of the ones still there: either thinly-disguised Republicans called "Blue Dogs," or spineless wimps who sell their souls to corporate America and go brain-dead when the far right shouts "Boo!"
As for Wisconsin, all you need to know is that its governor recently told a Christofascist meeting that every decision he makes is made on direct instructions from God, with whom he converses daily.
My radish-farming friend didn't flee these shores for political reasons, but to wed an English wife. Politically, the Brits have problems enough of their own, but at least over there, a pol who hears voices from heaven is usually asked to undergo psychiatric examination.