For the counterestablishmentarians, “program” and “funding” are words with talismanic power. President Obama will “fund programs” or “not cut programs” that will rescue the environment or curb domestic violence or teach civility or help the disabled or train the jobless. The proper program can do everything but play canasta. And it can be advocated without wondering how it might work or whether it would work or what other programs would not be funded so it could be.
As they’ve piled up on the website the last couple months, I’ve found this kind of Reason oddly dispiriting, precisely because it’s so conventional—it’s the kind of thing you might even hear from a Republican. From a counter-establishment, I expect more reasoning like Jamaica Kincaid’s (Vermont). “I am a woman,” she writes. “From the time I was 14 years of age until I was 57 years of age, every twenty-eight days or so, I had a menstrual period.” She concludes, after several long paragraphs of logic-chopping, that Obama’s “simple, firm, clear support for a woman’s right to choose . . . is what makes me committed to his reelection.” QED.
But such arguments are increasingly the exception on 90days-90reasons.com. What a strangely conventional thing Eggers’s hipster counterestablishment turns out to be! Why, in my day, sonny, a lead singer for a band with a name like Death Cab for Cutie wouldn’t be caught dead endorsing a Democrat, especially one who’s busy convincing the country of his pragmatism and moderation. Counterestablishments simply lived outside categories like right and left and Democrat and Republican. And they were never suckered by White House commissions and federal initiatives.