With the arrival of Barack Obama, an old era ends, and a new era begins -- the sixth political realignment in US history. Modeled on Beowulf, Obama emerges as a battle-tested hero. Beowulf slew a monster and its mother. Obama overwhelmed Hillary Clinton and her husband, the former president in one of the most classic gladiatorial contests in American history.
Obama becomes the first black presidential candidate nominated by a major party -- a momentous development. At the same time, the Clinton dynasty rusts and crumbles into the dust as the final syllables of her once strident campaign echo in the winds of history in the form of a curious series of statements that combine to form her "last hurrah" of her gone and now passé political era.
The backstory of political realignments in US history is riveting, because it serves as a backdrop for the new morning opening unto America today and tomorrow.
That pithy term, the "last hurrah" entered the American political lexicon with the publication of Edwin O'Connor's bestseller of the same name in 1956. Two years later, Spencer Tracy led an all-star cast in the film adaptation directed by John Ford. Based on the amazing career of the extraordinary Bostonian power-broker, James Michael Curley, the plot tells the story of a gifted politician whose career enters the twilight zone and eventually falls afoul of a decisive shift in the political zeitgeist of post-war America.
But it was in 1828, when America experienced its first seismic realignment in the political terra firma. In that auspicious year, every white male became eligible to vote for the first time in US history. In that era, America was governed by a brilliant president, John Quincy Adams, but while he commanded prophetic powers and articulated far-reaching policies in education, economic development and diplomacy, he failed to recognize the massive realignment that was taking shape right under his feet in the American political landscape.
In those glorious days, Andrew Jackson caught the mood of the times and swept away the old political system that he described as a "monopoly" dominated by power blocs of privileged elites and a landed gentry that granted itself the status of a medieval aristocracy. Jackson pledged to place political power into the hands of the common man, and he adopted a campaign style of electrifying political rhetoric that cut right to the heart of the hopes and ideals of the newly enfranchised American male population.
The Jacksonian Era reigned supreme for twenty years, but it was torn apart by the uncontrollable torque of the burning issue of the day: the abolition of slavery. Abolition shattered both of the major parties, the Democrats and the Whigs, that fractured along fault-lines defined by slavery on the one hand and abolition on the other. Lincoln and the Republican Party rose from those smoldering ashes to dominate the next period through the Civil War and Reconstruction with many crucial policies to enhance economic development including: the expansion of railroads and federal aid to land-grant colleges and universities.
In 1896, American political culture underwent its third political realignment. William Jennings Bryan bypassed the politically powerful editorial pages and appealed directly to the people by dominating the front pages to enunciate his strident populist message. At the same time, new campaign finance laws changed the game that had been predicated on political patronage, and major new private sources of funding came into play. Mark Hanna financed McKinley's campaign and projected his message through a kaleidoscope of new techniques. Professional speakers functioned like surrogate spin-doctors to deliver the Republican message directly to the people while vivid posters, handbills and massive rallies supercharged the atmosphere creating a Pavlovian response among the electorate.
The new Progressive Era led to investigations of official corruption and trust-busting, while America became palpably more democratic with the institution of primaries permitting the voters a role in the selection of candidates. For the first time in US history, the Senate was elected by the people rather than appointed by the powerbrokers. Teddy Roosevelt launched the conservation movement that began to preserve America's natural heritage. Eventually, through the suffrage movement, America's women obtained voting rights historically denied to their gender.
The extension of voting rights to women set the stage for the fourth political realignment under the leadership of FDR. The New Deal of 1932 opened a new era when the progressive ideal of laissez faire capitalism broke down in the Great Depression. With the introduction of many innovative yet totally pragmatic programs, the New Deal morphed into the New Frontier and the Great Society when new civil rights legislation led to a further expansion of voting rights for minorities and lowered the voting age to 18.
Throughout the seventies and eighties, the American political paradigm ricocheted from the progressive ideals of the New Deal in the Carter administration to the preference for laissez faire capitalism in the presidencies of Reagan, Bush and Bill Clinton. While other historians might question the political importance of Reagan and his era, his election in 1980 should demarcate the fifth political realignment in US history, a period of corporatism, capitalism and corruption on a grand scale as American corporate interests globalized their economic power through unsubtle diplomacy, military interventions and wars. Bill Clinton and the Democratic Leadership Council adopted much of the Reagan agenda when they came to power merely extenuating the corporate paradigm at the expense of the great social achievements of the New Deal, the New Frontier and the Great Society.
In 2000, after the collapse of electoral procedures in Florida America departed radically from its core traditions of constitutional democracy with the arrival of the Bush-Cheney Era via the Supreme Court decision divided across party lines in a five to four vote. With a victory in the electoral college of one vote backed up by a one-vote plurality on the Supreme Court, George Walker Bush never experienced genuine democratic legitimacy. Even though he lost the popular vote by one million, Bush eclipsed his rival, Gore, by only one solitary vote in the Electoral College in an election that decimated America's standing in the world.
The coercion of many Congressional Democrats after 9/11 permitted the neoconservatives to gain a modest upper hand during the elections of 2002 and 2004, but the backlash finally struck them full in the face in 2006. Bush and Cheney built their political movement on the foundation established by Reagan, Bush, Sr. and Clinton, a corporate military-industrial complex of global proportions replete with xenophobic wars of aggression and the cruel rendition of prisoners to far flung dungeons where torturers would torment the enemies of the corporate state.
Realizing that the moment had arrived for her to make a grand entrance onto the world stage as the first woman president, Hillary Clinton and her staff prepared a campaign to install her as the heir-apparent to the mutating American corporate political system. They calculated their equations and calibrated their strategies to build a campaign on the classical corporate model: top down command and control via funding fueled by eager lobbyists and pliant corporations propelling a massive public relations offensive designed to captivate the electorate through the MSM.
The strategy worked at least for a time. For the first eleven months of 2007, Hillary Rodham Clinton was on track to become a political phenomenon of monumental proportions -- a colossus on the stage of human history. For the first time in recorded history, the most powerful person on our planet would be a woman. Hers was a vision breathtaking in its grandeur -- an emblem of social, political and universal progress -- the gender revolution incarnate. The Clinton campaign became a juggernaut of Titanic proportions. It rolled over, under, around and through the political landscape of America like a phenomenal freight train hurtling toward its appointment with destiny in January 2009, when the planets would shift, and the stars would align signaling the dawn of a new era.
At that point, her Chief Strategist, Mark Penn, penned a political memorandum over one hundred pages in length proclaiming the "inevitability" of Clinton's claim to the presidency. That is the point when The Political Titanic hit the proverbial iceberg. From that moment, Hillary Clinton's popularity began to waver under the pressure of a new vibration ringing throughout the political cosmos.
It began with a riveting fusion of jazzy political improvisations. Barack Obama presented his simple message of change from the old system of bosses, corporate grandees and lobbyists buying American elections via his new and refreshingly sophisticated rhetoric that electrified the audience on the internet. The moment was right, and Obama's timing was honed to perfection by his Chief Advisor, David Axelrod. Courtesy of advancements in technology and the internet, a new political era was finally dawning in America. Long heralded by visionaries like Phil Noble, Obama cast his star into the political firmament as the engine of change to deliver America from the clutches of a warmongering imperialist regime of torturers. The people responded in their millions by sending campaign contributions to Obama in unprecedented proportions.
From polling data available from November 2007, it has been abundantly obvious to those willing to take note that Hillary Clinton's candidacy would succumb to the onslaught of Obama's compelling message embodied in his enthralling character in the age of the internet. While Clinton's campaign struck the iceberg late last year, her ship has been listing, reeling and taking on water at a frightening rate ever since. In recent weeks, her campaign has begun its final descent and is now sinking beneath the waves of gravity -- what goes up must come down. The lifeboats have been dispatched, and some of her key personnel have sent their resumes to the Obama headquarters.
The bow of Clinton's massive ship is now under water, and the propellers are raised above the surface as the once majestic hull drifts downward. The adamantine stress on the hull will cause Clinton's ship to break asunder as it plunges deeper into the murky depths below. Her husband's once gleaming credibility has become the most egregious victim of her crash.
Not even uttered by her, Hillary Clinton's "last hurrah" was heard in the halls of the DNC meeting about the Michigan and Florida delegations. When Hillary's supporters were displeased at the progress of the deliberations their voices rang out, "No-bama! No-bama! No-bama!" and the even more chilling note of self-inflicted destruction, "McCain! McCain! McCain!" History has recorded that Clinton's trusted aide, Mr. Harold Ickes, personally presided over this poignant scene of political apocalypse when Hillary Clinton and her dynasty collectively hit the self-destruct button, and superdelegates abandoned her sinking ship and leapt aboard USS Obama.
For the sixth time in American history, the political landscape is realigned. Behind the collapse of the Clinton dynasty, an American Beowulf if ever there were one, Barack Obama now faces the last remaining monster from the Reagan-Bush-Clinton Era: John McCain in a cosmic clash of titanic proportions. The tides of time favor Obama.