Lost Year

2002 was the year that sucked the chrome off the future

I can't stop! Just this month, the Bush administration announced its willingness to use nuclear weapons and land mines in Iraq. At home, thousands more people were rounded up by the INS (with some 500 to 700 in SoCal alone) the week before Christmas on suspicion of being swarthy.

Maybe this is the idea: to so deluge us with reprehensible stuff that we become numb to it.

We have no future! Why do I keep saying that? Because the only thing that keeps the future from being just another damn day is our ability to dream of something better and the will to bring it into being.

There used to be the presumption, borne out by experience, that each generation would have it better than the one before it. Fiction imagined the future. Science created it. Utopia ho!

The 1960s Star Trek episodes seem hokey today—the Enterprise's computer is clunkier than your laptop, plus we're now armed with the knowledge that velour is not the fabric of the future. But it did have a utopian vision—the better tomorrow—that we don't. The Earth they left behind wasn't rife with land mines and social inequities.

Science fiction, which had rightly anticipated so many things, turned dark decades ago, with grim, totalitarian, post-apocalyptic imaginings. And damn if that isn't the future, or lack of one, we're slouching into, where our selfish short-term portfolio matters more than the world we leave our children.

The future starts now, if we're going to have one. Take a bus. Buy green. I don't know about voting Green next time. Democrats have to realize they need the Greens onboard, and the Greens need to bite the bullet and throw their support behind a progressive Democrat. It is with sadness that I ask you to repeat after me: Ralph Nader will never be president.

But maybe he could get a cabinet post if things shake up enough. I suggest pushing for this reach-across-the-aisles ticket: John Kerry and John McCain. Kerry's a deep guy, one of the better products of the Vietnam generation, and McCain echoes the best qualities of Barry Goldwater: not someone you'll necessarily agree with, but more honest, compassionate and fed up with the system than most folks on the Hill. Just to keep things fun, he and Kerry could agree to switch places on the ticket when they run for a second term.

Not likely? But how likely is it that the Greatest Nation on Earth would have a doofus like Bush running it? A man of whom a Republican senator opined this year after meeting with him on the economy, "He's engaged. But it's all surface engagement—all kinds of wisecracks, snortling and nicknames." That was the word in the paper: "snortling."

Imagine a responsive government because you and your neighbors vote and write and protest and make it respond. Imagine our state getting out of its cash hole by releasing nonviolent drug offenders from prison. Imagine greener cars with chia dashboards. Imagine hybrid tricycles, linking leg power and electric motors. Imagine a mass-transit system of log-flume rides connecting the Southland. Hop onboard, and let's splash our way into the future, ever so far away from this sucky year.

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