Monday, November 24, 2014

Some Questions for Camille Paglia

by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster

I read with interest Ms. Paglia's most recent declaratory exposition, which ranged, as usual, over many topics in the most recent edition of

But what struck me most, tucked in with the other items au courant, was the interesting juxtaposition of justifications, alternately vaulting and despising herself and others on one topic most prime in the public consciousness. 

John McCain, the candidate for president, is a threat of unprecedented proportions, according to Ms. Paglia, because he is a loner. Ms. Paglia criticizes the Senator as unconnected -- and therefore unable to act as an administrator to the nation -- projecting predictions on his future behavior in the office of president. In so characterizing and arguing the choice of so many, Ms. Paglia ignores more profound question. 

McCain is not receiving an upswing in support because of an objective perception of his suitability for office. Far from it. McCain is the newest in a line of candidates who exemplify what can be characterized as the Perot factor in the changing currents and political tides in America. What is different here is that he arises from within a major party and is receiving support from groups who are being drawn from a population who would not before have considered supporting a candidate outside the tribal lines of their formal political affiliations. Hollywood is climbing on board, posing a grave threat to the Democratic Party. 

We witnessed such an early tremor in the 1980 presidential election with those identified as Reagan Democrats. But that was the smallest tip of the larger iceberg that now approaches the traditional world of politics. 

McCain is a marker in history. This election should be watched because to understand it is to understand the coming changes, which will signal the shape and direction of the future. 

People, ordinary people, are choosing a cultural direction, which is represented by their perception of McCain. Not the reality of McCain, mind you, but the perception. In choosing to use the process of picking an individual for the office of president to make a statement about their collective vision for our future they are acting intuitively. But they act in accordance with our larger cultural perception of the function of this office. The bully pulpit of Teddy Roosevelt remains just that. It is a means of setting tone and direction for ordinary people who are otherwise voiceless. And ironically enough, they are acting precisely as Ms. Paglia confesses having acted when she voted for Bill Clinton, now exposed as a rampant sexual predator and profoundly dysfunctional human being, as a symbol of the advent to power of her own generation. A vote for Bill Clinton was not an effective "no" vote for Bob Dole. That is the function of third party candidates. And that was the option that Ms. Paglia declined. 

We live and breathe in symbols. To understand the political process it is necessary to consider it in depth and in all of the ways we as human beings use it to set our course through time. 

Yes, McCain is a cantankerous political loner who may have questions in his background. But those factual matters are irrelevant to his function in the process now launched through the primary machinery of politics. McCain is a direction away from the past, which is perceived as both the Republican and Democratic Parties. He is a sharp "no" to politics as usual. He is "yes" to a softening of lines and a coming together to work for a common vision, which overshadows the past and makes it irrelevant. 
So, Ms. Paglia, listen, watch, and consider, for the future is coming.