The party was a smashing success.
With virtually every member of Long Island’s A-list in attendance, it had been the foremost event on midsummer’s social calendar. From the entertainment provided to the food served to the weather conditions, all aspects of the festivities had gone without a hitch. Many had such a good time that they did not leave until just before dawn, drunkenly singing and laughing as they poured into their respective automobiles.
Nonetheless, the man responsible for the bash, a lonely, reclusive billionaire, felt strongly disappointed at what had taken place. Voicing his feelings aloud as his trusted, and only, friend walked up alongside him, he declared that the now-married love of his life, whom he invited, did not have a good time. Determined to, in his own words, “fix everything” by recreating the era in which they both were in a relationship, he first stops to hear a few words of advice. “You can’t repeat the past,” his friend warns. Taken aback, the billionaire replies, “Can’t repeat the past? Of course you can!”
So goes the story of Jay Gatsby and Nick Carraway. In the end, of course, as anyone who has read F. Scott Fitzgerald’s immortal 1925 tale of the American Dream gone awry very well knows, the former pays the price in kind for his ruthless pursuance of that which is already far behind him in life. The moral of The Great Gatsby applies to today’s political landscape, particularly regarding the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, with frightening accuracy. It appears that with each passing day, Sarah Palin is increasingly considering making a go at the White House. While there is only a minimal chance that she could conceivably claim victory in most of her party’s state primaries, and absolutely no chance of her defeating Barack Obama in the ensuing general election, the fact that so many who participate in our country’s electoral process somehow believe her to be qualified for the presidency is more than slightly disconcerting.
As poll after poll has shown, Palin’s base lies almost squarely within the GOP’s lower socioeconomic strata. Unlike their more affluent or educated counterparts, fiscal issues are of only marginal concern to these voters. Many of them, who live in rural, isolated areas of the South and Midwest, are searching for the same thing which Gatsby was: the past. A great deal see Palin as a throwback to traditional American values or whatnot, generally meaning Andy Griffith’s Mayberry on a national scale. Of course, no such environment ever truly existed, and even in an alternate reality in which it did, Palin, considering her seemingly turbulent family life, would most certainly be no purveyor of it. Try telling that to her pseudo-religiously devoted band of groupies, though, and the result would be strongly negative, as both she and they so obviously base their political stances on emotionalism; not logic or reason as everybody undeniably should.
In the event that a majority, or even a strong plurality, of the Republican primary electorate were to follow in Gatsby’s footsteps, throwing Carraway’s words of caution into the wind, then they would effectively bring about the GOP’s untimely demise. The last grand ball which Gatsby threw was outstanding to be sure, as was the Republican party’s performance in the 2010 midterm elections, but, as the old adage goes, “The higher one rises, the harder one falls.”
Attempting to repeat the past will only guarantee the GOP a fall of unimaginable proportions. Let us hope that such a catastrophic scenario never sees the light of day.