I didn’t used to notice years being particularly interesting, though I often felt interesting things were happening in my life and the world around me.
Empires would rise and fall. But there always seemed to be some continuity in the sweep of my personal history. No one year being all that more significant than another. No one event defining an era.
Though I have grown up in interesting political times, I have never quite felt the pendulum of history swinging between left and right in this country. Watching a culture of Kennedy/FDR worship morph into the veneration of Ronald Reagan always seemed less an ideological gyration than an incremental victory for money and marketing.
People still seemed to have a sense of shared responsibility, a sense of community and the knowledge that we’re all in this together. Even if Tea Baggers, in a bizarre spasm of corporate doublespeak, wanted government to keep its hands off their Medicare, they recognized the underlying virtue of the government program.
There was still hope that facts, with their distinctive progressive bias, might still somehow inform our world.
But I had little doubt where politics, awash in money in a modern world, was headed. The die was cast in 1975 when the Supreme Court, building on a historically obscure, though monumental, screw-up, equated spending money with free speech. It was just a question of time before the intended consequence of that decision would be realized.
And now it has.
On Jan. 20, the Supreme Court may have made its most significant decision since establishing itself as a co-equal branch of government alongside its executive and legislative brethren 200 years ago in Marbury vs. Madison. This time, the justices brought in a new, senior partner, corporations, and proclaimed them free to spend as much shareholder money as they want to influence and elect politicians.
It’s only 22 days old and the new year has already piqued my interest.
Addendum: A dissent from the left.