Storm Clouds on the Fourth of July

The Tea Party Movement has some promise, but it too looks backwards. Madison, Adams and Hamilton were clearly great men, but where are their modern equivalents? Surely we don't want to rely entirely on ideas honed in the Eighteenth Century, laudatory as many of them are. It's good to be reminded of them, but it's also good to have a plan. I haven't heard one yet, just a lot of no - no to taxes, no to spending, no to socialized medicine. That's all fine as far as it goes, but it's not exactly inspiring.

But don't get me wrong - I love my country. And maybe it's because I love it so much that I am so depressed. Yes, I know it's always darkest before the dawn and all that. And I want to "look at the bright side," as my grandmother always advised. Still, these are dark times and it's hard to pretend otherwise. Obama's eager aide-de-camp Rahm Emanuel wants to seize on this as an opportunity - and perhaps he's right. Only not in the way Emanuel would suggest, ramming through Obama's ill-conceived notions. No, my suggestion is even more radical. We should junk the liberal and conservative orthodoxies that have divided - and blinded - us for so long and go back not to Eighteenth Century America, but Nineteenth, to the days of that most American of philosophies - pragmatism. "The pragmatists rejected all forms of absolutism and insisted that all principles be regarded as working hypotheses that must bear fruit in lived experience." Now there's a thought that might brighten even grumpy me on the Fourth of July.

And speaking of "lived experience," the darkest times call for the biggest parties. Get drunk and boogie. It may be your last opportunity. (Just kidding - Happy Fourth).