I should preface this piece by noting my general mood over the past couple of weeks — tired, needing a break and getting it, then dealing with this damned sinus infection that is still dragging on a bit, though I’m certainly feeling much better than I have been. (That said, the sneezing fit just now left me think a follow-up visit to the doctor won’t go awry.) Oddly enough work itself isn’t really a trouble so far but then again the new quarter’s just started, so knock on wood there.
But anyway, this likely explains what I’ve come to realize has been a certain — I think necessary — distance from the roil of political discussion and debate that I’d been living in for years via the many sites I tracked online, not to mention the general ebb and flow of news that I always track regardless. The eternal news junkie and history/political fiend that I am can’t ever let them go entirely, I won’t pretend otherwise.
A large part of this comes from something that is obvious — the election is over. (With Al Franken apparently claiming the Minnesota Senate seat now, it really is over.) Of course, the electoral cycle is hardly a determinant for how all events play themselves out, and if anything the events of even these last few first days of 2009 — the initial wrangles over first economic steps by the Obama administration, the continual playing out of the massive slowdown around the world, and most wearyingly what is one of the most depressing chapters yet in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict — shows how much is again at stake, symptoms of eternal questions. Therefore the question of regular commitment — of staying involved and ready — also comes to the fore. You can’t run and hide from the world, it’s all right there, and there’s plenty of good writing, reflection and discussion on it all happening as I type, on sites I’ve long recommended and linked to.
But while my commitment and interest and desire to stay on the right side of knowledge hasn’t wavered — to be informed and considered in my conclusions — my sense of needing to ride the crest of a wave 24/7 has eased back a lot. This is essentially a reflection of my own satisfaction with the electoral results, after all — to my mind the better candidate won and I am more than happy to give him and his organization the space and time to do something which will hopefully be of overall benefit and worth to the citizenry, even if (and perhaps especially if) the correct steps in some cases would be do nothing at all. Ergo, rather than obsessively tracking every move being made and worrying that not everything is turning out perfectly on some sort of unrealistic scale of expectations, I’m more content to watch, wait and think a bit. If anything the political events I’m more rightly concerned about at present are those that affect me directly — the California state budget battle continues to drag on and I am, after all, a state employee, though the UC operates a little outside the direct framework. The question of budget is a large one for my workplace these days and whatever finally happens, there’s going to be an impact.
Meantime, one of the things I had thought I was going to get the most running pleasure out of following the election — watching the bitter infighting and self-mutilation among the right and happily cackling at their follies — isn’t really worth the time, even if it is always worth the mockery. There’s plenty to poke around at, of course, but the sense that a bunch of them realize they’ve been wrongfooted by events and can do little but mumble Ronald Reagan’s name and look around at each other in the hopes that he’ll magically reappear overrides everything else these days. The worm will doubtless eventually turn but it will do so when that mindset — and, quite likely, that generation — disappears, to be replaced by something worth paying attention to. Rush Limbaugh isn’t some sort of incarnation of a newly energized approach towards taking over the tools of political debate like he was back in 1992, he’s just a comfortable storyteller down in Florida now saying things to an audience that has grown old and dull with him. If the GOP wants to follow that route in general, then the Whigs can finally have some company in the American political ashheap.
So I’m on a pause for a bit, waiting on an inauguration but really just waiting. Patience is always the watchword in the end, and if all the talk these days on many fronts lies in retrenching and building up resources and riding out larger events, in a certain sense that matches my mood. I fully realize I’m lucky enough to be able to be so contemplative, that this is a luxury of a certain position partially due to chance and partially due to the choices I’ve consciously made. (Let me just say here it’s nice not to have any debt at all, and I’ll leave it at that.)
I am content to let all the initial squabbles and storms and things play out over these next couple of months. We’ll see what happens from there.