When you open the cultural door to possibilities, you can't have a bouncer there deciding who comes in. The door is open. Period. Possibilities are endless. Everyone who has the money, moxie or serendipity can and will push their way through.
This dynamic was no more in evidence than when the country elected its first African-American president two years ago, something that would've been unthinkable not too long before. Did you not realize that this broadened opening is the same force that birthed the Tea Party, Alvin Green and the god-like truthiness of Jon Stewart?
You can't have a Barack Obama without a Sarah Palin. Rachel Maddow, meet the ubiquitous Bill O'Reilly. For every Al Franken, there's a Sharron Angle or Christine O'Donnell. They're all the spawn of the same dynamic, an expanding new reality where anything is possible and nothing is predictable.
And everyone who is successfully part of this cacophonous, national uber-party, from wingnuts to traditional worker bees, has become a representative of San Francisco values.
How much fun is that?
Our local door's been open to anyone with entrepreneurial flash and public panache since the 1800s. Wacky ideas are always welcome. A bench in a Palo Alto garage led to billions of dollars. Fortunes were made and lost, and crackpots like Emperor Norton and the Human Jukebox became the stars.
Sure, it may feel like we're in the Roman Amphitheater portion of our historical roller coaster. But get used to it. This is likely to be a very extended phase, just like our confusing and stubborn recession.
That's why traditional pros like Russ Feingold and Harry Reid are in such trouble. Too calculable. Too yesterday's sure thing.
And why not? The politicians are right that a lot of news has become entertainment and the cable news channels are right that the politicians are nonsensical. The seams of our society are splitting, and we don't know where the next tear will come from.
We need more voices, not less, more participation, not apathy. And yes, a little craziness might actually create some perspective in the long run.
This time of year I can't help but think of the outrageous Halloween celebration that used to take place in San Francisco's Castro District up until our city canceled it a few years ago. I don't miss the gunshot wounds, but I know I'm not alone in my nostalgia for the outrageous, beautiful, creative, and obscene frisson that made the event such a popular and potentially dangerous circus.
Well, don't let anyone kid you with those SF demon-seed Nancy Pelosi/Barbara Boxer ads. The San Francisco dynamic of the old Castro blow-out is now the underpinning of our national political scene.
But San Francisco's uniqueness was never in its predominant and often boring liberal stew. Who cares, really, that the Board of Supervisors passes resolutions calling for democracy in Dubai?
Now, as San Francisco has drawn back a little from its Halloween sensibilities, that kind of shocking unreliability has spread around the country.
But it is our shocking unreliability and unpredictability that has gone big screen and nationwide.
Just look at the San Francisco Giants.
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