A new kind of army and a new kind of debate

The Medvedev Girls, a group of the president's female fans, posing on Pushkin Square. They donned

Vladimir Filonov / MT

The Medvedev Girls, a group of the president’s female fans, posing on Pushkin Square. They donned “school” outfits Thursday, the start of the school year, to test young male passers-by on their knowledge of Dmitry Medvedev’s life and times.

Everyone needs a good laugh once in a while, even the Russians.  Russia is moving toward a presidential election, but no one is certain who the candidates will be.  Maybe Medvedev will run again and maybe not, maybe Putin will put himself forward and maybe not. However, both are campaigning; a recent NPR program featured a Russian expert who said that Putin had been photographed on his Harley and that was an essential part of his campaigning strategy and therefore he is running.  Putin has another interesting strategy, he has his own army – not soldiers with guns and tanks, but pretty girls in skirts.  Well this week, Medvedev marched out his version of Putin’s Army, Medvedev’s Girls; there job is to parade around, look good and talk about all of the good things he has done as president.  They both manage to field their armies with a straight face – but I cannot see how anyone can read about it without laughing.  Before November of 2012 the american electorate may be praying for Obama’s Girls or Perry’s Army (or whoever the candidate turns out to be); this will be one of the most dire election in our history.

There is very little humor to be found in American politics in 2011 and will be less in 2012.  Every national discussion turns to accusation and finger-pointing and away from substance and meaning given enough time.  The latest one is dumbfounding – how could the timing of a presidential address to Congress be so controversial?  And then it starts – “he knew what he was doing”, “he did it on purpose”; or the other side: “they refuse to compromise or engage in reasonable dialogue.”  Did Obama intentionally pick the time and day that would cause another incident?  It does not seem possible – but on the other hand, how could the republican leadership without protest allow a speach that would render their party’s debate meaningless?  And then, there is the NFL – if the president was to speak during the first NFL game of the season would his speach not be rendered as meaningless?  After all,  who would give up a football game to hear a president?

This may have all happened before – by this I mean the general animosity and polarization, not the timing of “jobs speach” – but if it did I missed it, I missed it in school studying American history and I missed it in adulthood when  like events might have taken place.  To me this is very new and very different; it feels to me as if we are standing on the edge of a huge shift in politics; a new era  beginning.  However one might characterize the elections, political debates and lawmaking process of the last 235 years, it will be a characterization of the past and not the future.  What exactly does that mean?  I haven’t a clue.  The constitution and our common history no longer seem to be clear and agreed upon guidelines.

For what purpose was the union formed?  Was the country formed as a framework for business and private party or was it formed for individual freedom and rights?  What is the role of government, of the federal government, of the state governments and then county and city governments?  How many services should government profit – what is too much?  What level of taxation is fair and reasonable? “Eliminate social security!”  “Create national healthcare!” “Build a strong army to protect us, deter would attackers – an army equal to our status as the world’s leader!”  “Cut the army; we don’t soldiers, we need jobs for our citizens, we need to educate all of our children and help everyone that needs it!”

Without the battles that have been fought in Syria, Tunisia, Yemen, Egypt and Libya we appear to be reaching the same point some of those countries have reached: a time to rethink the state and citizenship.  And like some of those countries the various factions are so polarized that the discussions would be very, very difficult and the possibility of violence never far off as tempers flare with the heat of the inflamed rhetoric.  Happy Labor Day!


1 Response to “A new kind of army and a new kind of debate”

  1. 1 lynne rosner September 2, 2011 at 6:14 pm

    Thank you for posting. I read about Tverskya Street and Moscow. In the history was the passion of Christ for which the square once stood. Art and literature was also critical in its reformation. The connection between the Kremlin and the road to Tver, well it leads to martyrdom and sorrow. Time for a strawberry or maybe a good southpaw peach. Thank you again for your posts.

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