It has been six months since my last post, “American Empire (?): The Way Forward.”  I imposed a kind of self-banishment from blogging to finalize my PhD dissertation and compete my viva voce. Upon emerging from my academic cave a couple of weeks ago, I was greeted by the realization that little has changed.  I now know how Punxsutawney Phil must feel every February 2nd when the same old drunk Penn-men get dressed up to greet him and violate what for this subterranean mammal must be a blissful slumber including hopeful dreams that something new awaits him on the morning of his next winter’s wake up call.  The same knucklehead politicians and pundits seem to be with me after my academic reclusion, although fewer of the more colorful and stupefying ones like Perry, Bachmann, Santorum, and Gingrich are with us in their aspiring form.  I must admit that my masochistic evil twin misses them a great deal.[1]  However, notwithstanding the constancy of our national leadership deficit some things do feel different, which I interpret (using the much maligned term) as hopeful.

As I identified in December, the US does appear to be experiencing a decoupling from the woes of the world, especially that emanate in Europe.  While not entirely decoupled, our markets are certainly benefiting as a relatively safe place to store wealth, especially for monied folks in the southern Latin clines of the euro who want to avoid catastrophic losses with a return of the drachma or the peseta.  Among other things, they are buying up big-city US real estate; and it is important to note that US Treasuries, slammed by S&P last July, are doing quite well, thank you.  The reality is that while we have gained a great deal of weight that should compromise our prospects as the most attractive (one-night) romantic target at closing time at the local bar, demand for all things American remains at unprecedented levels.  However, there is a greater (hopeful) decoupling development, which is more local and more personal that appears to be taking hold: people seem to be ignoring bad news and have begun to find ways to get on with their lives.  In the absence of national leadership—particularly in Congress—individuals are leading for themselves.  It is as if they have declared the current crisis moot.

This condition amounts to another ‘work-around’ to be added to the list of three others in my last post; this one is, in effect, a psychological work-around where we each—one-by-one—reclaim our personal sovereignty.  People are beginning to turn the noise off and listen to their own music.  They are making tough choices (in many cases because there is no other choice) and moving on.  They are forging new pathways and new identities to escape the banality of the current crisis to produce what for them is transcendence toward a more manageable future.  This development is not based in apathy, or denial, or anger; it is based in reality and, I believe, is for the most part a very good thing.  While reclaiming sovereignty can be interpreted as a dangerous trend toward isolation and disunion, in the current crisis it may be just what our leaders need to sober up and start serving their constituents again.  Can you imagine the tectonic shift that will occur when our leaders realize that no one cares anymore what they have to say?  Who is elected this November, or in the coming two or three election cycles, may become irrelevant.

Nearly two centuries ago Alexis de Tocqueville observed of Americans that they had a particular sense of sovereignty that began with the individual and eventually “emerged from the towns and took possession of the government.”[2]  Perhaps reclaiming our personal sovereignty is a first step, however painful, to reclaiming America’s seat at the table of greatness.

[1] Although I read this morning that Bachmann has had her staff reserve precious lawn space outside Congress to herald the expected battering of Obamacare by the Supreme Court, no doubt with her trademark bimbonic stare.  My twin awaits re-satiation.)
[2] Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America (New York: Literary Classics of the United States, 2004), p. 63.