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Not surprisingly, America is like a western movie featuring good guys, bad guys, participants and onlookers.

A hoary old plot in many Westerns has the good, hardworking and upstanding townspeople under the tyrannical thumb of the villainous and rapacious rancher/miner/oilman along with his henchman and behind-the-scenes strategist.   There is usually also a smart accountant type who never actually does anything bad, but who undertakes to make the politics work out to the economic benefit of the power elite. They have in their pocket the mayor, town council and most important to the plot, the town sheriff.  Often in these plots, the first sheriff has to be replaced when he finally draws a principled line because he thinks the bad guys have gone too far. There is also usually on call a stable of cruel but stupid private gunslingers and thugs who shut down dissent by extra-legal beatings, murders and threats. In various versions of this plot, the newspaper publisher is either a co-conspirator or a fearless defender of the truth who gets trashed for his honesty.  

The laws are made and enforced for the benefit of the power structure.  The town council consists of the most prominent local business men who find it in their economic interest to go along in order to collect whatever crumbs are thrown their way – they go along so that they can get along.  It is only when the virtuous and idealistic lawyer from back east comes along and stands up to the terror that the people rise up and dethrone the bad guys; the peace-loving and idealistic lawyer wins over the girl who was initially a passive participant in the system.

It shouldn’t take long to populate this plot with the actors in our current political drama.  George W. Bush is the rancher/miner/oilman, Dick Cheney is his henchman, the Club for Growth, the oil industry, the financial/insurance sector and the American Chamber of Commerce are the local business men who get the economic benefits of going along.  The smart accountant is played by Phil Gramm who arranges for the laws to be written to allow the exploitation to happen.  The sheriff is played first by John Ashcroft and his replacement is played by Alberto Gonzalez.  The thugs and gunslingers are played by Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, Hannity, and Glenn Beck who work for the evil manipulator of public opinion, Rupert Murdock.  

Along comes the virtuous and idealistic lawyer from back East -  Barack Obama, the consummate outsider, who ultimately defeats the forces of evil by using the power of his ideals and example to  galvanize the average people, reinstate the rule of law, and run the bad guys out of town, and in the end, he even wins over Hillary Clinton. The people then chip in their resources and hard work to rebuild the destruction that the bad guys have caused to the town.

The big question is whether our national spaghetti western is over, or whether there remain further acts, in which there is a shootout in the main street/town square with the remnants of the old regime.  Will the crooked holdover judges let the bad guys off and undermine the rule of law?  Will the prominent local businessmen try to flex their economic muscles to establish new elite?  Will the rancher/miner/oilman hold his workers hostage and seek a buyout as a condition of leaving town?  Will the hostile newspaperman rally the losers from reform to overturn them and reinstate the old corrupt ways?  Stay tuned!

Originally posted to DocMartin on Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 03:14 PM PDT.

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