Scheer: What is your view on what’s going to happen in this country in the next 50 years?
Vidal: We could still be saved by our own incompetence. I think that the coming depression is going to ... see, I’m old enough to remember the ... depression of the ’20s and ’30s. That was a moment of greatness for the American people, and indeed for politicians like Roosevelt. I remember Gene McCarthy and I were talking about it once, and he said, “You know, the Depression was the only time when anything worked!” He said, “I’ve got a lawyer now who wants to be a songwriter. I’ve got somebody else who’s supposedly fixing the roof, but he wants to be a painter.” He said, “Nobody does what they should be doing in this society.” This is a guy who’d just run for president, and a very good one, too. Antiwar. And he said, “You know, this is ridiculous. I mean, in those days, you had a carpenter, and he was a real carpenter.” He said, “The post office worked. They weren’t dreaming about being rock stars; they were dreaming about getting the mail out!” And he said, “To watch all the services crumble, and everybody fantasizing about the future, because they’d seen people in the movies who fantasized about the future, and the future came true.” I thought that was wise. And ... I think the fantasies will stop when there’s no longer the leisure, and people will actually get back to work doing whatever it is they’re supposed to be doing, or even what it is they would really like to do. An awful lot of people who want to be painters rather than doing roofs—well, be a painter. Nothing’s difficult anymore; you can get the means for everything rather cheaply. With the Internet and all this kind of interchange all around the world so rapidly, you can make a reputation, I think, rather quickly, and present yourself as a writer, as a poet, as this and that. So, that, I think, the bankruptcy of the United States, which we’re looking at the edges of now, is going to be very useful to [bring] us to our senses.
Watch and listen to the interview at: http://www.truthdig.com/interview/item/gore_vidal_on_campaign_08/