Here we go again! Political mechanics (rather than celestial mechanics, quantum mechanics, or auto mechanics) brings the Silly Season of a presidential election around once more. Tonight, in Iowa, the results of the first of the Primaries will give us the first clues whether He Who Must Not Be Named gets traction.
The social mechanics, along with technology, seems to make this election cycle unlike any seen in American politics. Despite a common assertion, the world (society, really) does evolve and change!
So no one knows what will happen tonight!
Recently I’ve written a number of posts venting my frustration with the current state of our society…
And I find myself at a loss. If you’ve ever survived a car crash (or other catastrophic accident), you may have experienced one of those drawn out slow-motion instants where you realize — and even seem to have the time to consider thoughtfully — two things: that you’re about to crash, and there’s nothing you can do about it.
I’ve driven myself (and others) crazy over the years — the decades — ranting and warning about the nature of how we go about our business. And to be clear, this is not a matter of disagreement of opinion. This is a matter of how we form and “debate” those opinions.
Simply put, we do it very, very badly.
I’ve quoted Leon Wieseltier from his appearance on The Colbert Report many times in this blog. What he said there is especially appropriate as we begin our Silly Season once again:
“A democratic society, an open society, places an extraordinary intellectual responsibility on ordinary men and women, because we are governed by what we think, we are governed by our opinions. So the content of our opinions, and the quality of our opinions, and the quality of the formation of our opinions, basically determines the character of our society.”
He makes two points that I think are crucial.
Firstly, that, as members of this sort of society, it is incumbent on us to pay attention, to know what’s going on, and to participate (specifically, to vote). And, yes, that is a big ask, but it’s part of the necessary burden we must shoulder if we are to keep this society.
Secondly, that what matters, what truly matters, isn’t just our opinions, but the quality of those opinions and the process we use to derive them.
Perhaps the best simple tool to aid in forming quality opinions is simply asking, “Why?”
And, as I’ve said many times, asking “Why?” is one of the key dividing lines between us and the animals. Animals live their lives as best they can and do no ponder the why or wherefore of it. So you are more human when you ask, “Why?”
Donnie Boy says Megyn Kelly’s question to him (asking him about his own published words) in the first debate was “unfair.” Why?
It’s a simple question. Why? Explain yourself. You’ve just asserted some serious bullshit there. Why do you think it has any connection to reality?
It’s been cute (by which I mean it makes me tear my hair out and say nasty things to the images on my TV machine) listening to the talking head “experts” try to figure out how they got Trump so wrong and why is he so successful?
As I’ve said, he’s the natural end product of where society has been headed for decades. A lot of this is on the GOP, who has trained its electorate away from science, logic, or critical thought. But most of it really is on all of us (see any of several previous posts).
I think it’s useful to distinguish between DB’s appeal and his success.
His appeal is pretty clear. He’s been a figure in the American scene for many years; he’s a reality show star; and he’s a “bad boy” who doesn’t play by the rules. On top of that, he’s an anti-politician, and citizens on both sides of the aisle are heartily sick of politicians. All of them.
His appeal, simply put, is based on populism. In a society that runs on page hits, Likes, and Followers, populism confers validity. We live in a time in which people can be famous… for being famous.
Donnie Boy’s success, however is due to the dialectic failure.
Which isn’t what happens when your Flux Capacitor shorts out (that would be dielectric failure), it’s what happens when we lose the ability to parse the bullshit from the substance.
And we’ve been indulging in bullshit for so long we think it’s steak.
I had an idea for a cartoon (preferably an animation) that starts on a chicken, a rooster (labeled “Trump”).
The chicken is cowering and afraid. As the camera draws back we see that it’s cowering in front of a scary, menacing fox (labeled “Megyn Kelly”).
As the camera continues to draw back, we see coming over the hill, giant bears, even scarier and more menacing than the fox. The bears are labeled “Putin” and “Ali Khamenei” and “Kim Jong-un.”
[And, yes, the fox is a double pun.]
I just wish FNC hadn’t put out that snarky tweet. They gave up their high ground. As it was, they gave DB the excuse he needed to not end up with egg on his face. (And did we all notice how he bought his way out of that?)
I will tell you this much. All this fucked up bullshit goes down much better with reasonable amounts of beer (or other libation).
There comes a point where it all starts to seem very funny.
But my favorite among the IPAs is the Northwest Passage IPA by local company Flat Earth Brewing (6.5% ABV, 115!! IBU).
It being winter, it’s more the season for stouts and porters, and I’ve been enjoying both the Out of Bounds Stout (6.3% ABV, 51 IBU) by Avery Brewing as well as the Edmund Fitzgerald Porter (6.0% ABV, 37 IBU) by Great Lakes Brewing.
But again, my favorite is from Flat Earth. Their Cygnus-X1 Porter (6.5% ABV, 45 IBU) is to die for (plus, the name appeals to us astronomy fans).
Yep. It’s gotten to that point. Politics in America requires the frequent application of some form of anesthetic. Something to deaden the pain of it all.
Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more…