Even as I stood on my tiptoes applauding the Democrats taking over Congress, I kept thinking how ridiculous I looked. Here was an old guy wrapped in a silk brocade robe with a healthy portfolio clapping for a bunch of wealth-confiscators. No, start that again. I am not that guy. I don't own a silk robe, I never stand to applaud any victory, whether it's football or politics. And I'm not old. And the Democrats are not wealth-confiscators, except that a lot of them are very wealthy, having confiscated this and that for themselves at some point.
Still, there are guys like the dude in the robe who believe the old party lines, and it's about them I want to speak. We have such a sports mentality in this country that we are ready at any time to give up our interests just to see a glorious win. We believe, as per their commercials, that Republicans are made of oil, cash, and gunpowder, while Demos are redolent of sweat, populism and peace. In reality, neither party could exist without the other. They are two sides of the same coin. One of them holds power until it gets itself into a mess it can't handle. Then, they call on the other party to fix it. When the Democrats failed to win in Vietnam, a war they waged and couldn't figure out how to get out of, they gave it up to the Republicans, who ended it. (Not before destroying a whole new country, Cambodia, and killing and maiming tens of thousands more people.) Now, it's the Democrats' turn to end a war the Republicans started and don't know what to do with. Let's hope they do it without destroying another Cambodia (Syria, maybe?) and sacrificing thousands more people.
As far as the economy goes, the guy in the robe won't see much difference. The Republicans gave him enough of a tax break to buy his robe cheap (made in China) and to purchase the plasma TV (made in China) that he's just watched the elections on. That was very Democrat-like of the Republicans, who have long ago swapped economic dogma with the Democrats. Now that the Democrats are in charge, his new robe will be made in Vietnam, and when he upgrades his TV, that will be made in Vietnam, too. Some years under the Democrats (not many), Wal-Mart, which owns China, will find an even cheaper China in Vietnam. Vietnam, meanwhile, will be owned by Wal-Mart until it finds another country (Cambodia, maybe?) to take up the torch of cheap. At that point, cheap won't be quite as cheap as it used to be under the Republicans, so there will be a clamor for change.
When that happens, the old dude in the Vietnamese robe (he's really old now) will be watching the elections on his wall-sized TV, and will stand up to cheer the winning Republicans. He'll reach out for his cane to stabilize himself, but where his cane used to be stands a Tax Collector with a pit bull called Debt. Behind them is a scorched field of oil derricks hand-pumped by temporary workers from New York. No, it's not global warming, it's an Art Installation.
Andrei Codrescu's latest book is New Orleans, Mon Amour: Twenty Years of Writing From the City (Algonquin Books).