Here’s something I first started writing about a year and a half ago, as kind of a foreword to today’s staggering blaze of ignorance:
For the last seven years, I have, for professional reasons, paid an unhealthy amount of attention to politics. I have observed every little thing from all angles. The more I work in this capacity — incessant omnipartisan public interaction on the Issues — the more I learn how subjective everything is. Read what Actual Real Genuine People think — not polls, not selective Man-On-The-Street stuff, not what press releases and allegedly underground blogger-press tells you. (And much as I love the Internet Bypass of the Old Media, it has made it painfully easy for Issue Loons to limit themselves to news-sources they agree with while declaring themselves well-informed.) Find out what people, unbidden, anonymously, really think when they share their passions. That’s the only way to elude the media Heisenberg Principle.
What you will find out is that all Important Issues have very, very bright people and shockingly obnoxious assholes — some of them are both — advocating all sides with equal vigor and equal wisdom and equal eloquence and equal convincing-ness. (BTW, bashers, “media bias” just a convenient excuse for you lazy Issue Loons to use when explaining why the whole world doesn’t see things your way.) Issue Loons are no different than baseball fans, and those who prefer the Red Team or the Blue Team are exactly the same, mentally, as the dyed-in-the-wool supporters of the Red Sox or the Yankees.
Now, considering that the walls of right and left are thus broken, here’re the best bits of political knowledge I’ve got to share: Nothing is True, Everything Has Happened Before, and Nobody Is Any Smarter Than Anyone Else.
Nothing Is True: I don’t mean nothing is factual. I mean that there is no Great Truth. Abortion is wrong, and so is banning the procedure. Reefer is bad and harmful and enhances creativity and improves food, sex, and Futurama. George Bush is a fascist dictator who will ruin this country forever and the antidote needed to the general culture of cynicism and an unelected boy king and a regular guy who lacks pretention and sheds real tears, albeit less often than his predecessor shed the crocodile kind. Letting people fend for themselves in an uncaring world is deplorable, but so is stealing from the ants to feed the grasshopper. The world was much better five, ten, twenty, fifty, one hundred, and two thousand years ago, and no it wasn’t. Yes, things have been bad before, but never this bad.
Jesus. People and their revealed truths. Shut up. Stop demanding that normal people be unhappy until your respective teams have won. At least fans of the Yankees and Red Sox have the decency to keep their misery to themselves. They don’t run around demanding that people with no interest in baseball should write panicked letters to the newspaper about how another Yankees Series title will destroy the economy of the city of Boston and turn the Charles River into a flood of raw sewage.
Everything Has Happened Before: Read up on Presidential campaigns. Old ones. Bust out the WayBack Machine; this race is actually very similar to the one in 1800 – Jefferson was called an agent of the French, Adams was accused of wanting a monarchy. Sound familiar? For more than two hundred years, American Presidential candidates have been promising the end of the world if their opponent was elected, and it hasn’t happened. I’m breaking the cycle – no more buy-in for me. Gonna have a drink, and sit in the sunshine, and let the panicmongers panic each other. Leave me be, y’all, I’m going to be happy. Who the President is is as irrelevant to my little life as who wins the Bassmasters Classic. (Yeah, yeah, I know. “Poisoned water!” “80% tax rates!” “Concentration camps!” “Nuclear War!” You’re all bothering me, which you have no right to do. Hush. Go sit outside until the grownups are through.)
Nobody Is Any Smarter Than Anyone Else: I was like all the Issue Loons, once; and I still am a little, but I’m trying to quit. (Admitting you have a problem is the first step.) I had my Issues. I did my proselytizing. I Believed stuff. And I, like all other Issue Loons, was an asshole. I thought I was smart enough that other people — obviously not as smart as me — should listen to what I said, and heed my Important Wisdom. But then I realized that that was presumptuous, egotisitcal, and seriously fucking rude. To lobby someone to go your way is to openly admit that you believe you are smarter than they are. Might as well just be honest and put it that way: “Support Bush/Kerry, because I said so and I’m smarter than you.” This is why I’m not telling the Issue Loons they’re wrong — some of my best friends, as the cliche goes — just to leave the rest of us out of their hobby. We of the Silent Majority don’t look down our noses at people who don’t grok the NFL or the S&P or LINUX or birdwatching, you don’t do any more kvetching about what fools voters (or nonvoters) are, or demand that we watch this ad or read that article. I’d even take the lead on signing a treaty.
(Article One: Otherwise normal people trying to terrify otherwise innocent people into voting for their team will be fed to small, aggressive sharks. Slowly. That panicmongering shit drives me nuts. Don’t ruin my good day because your team dropped behind in the standings.)
So that brings me to this election. The lingering Issue Loon in me needs to note that I’m double-extra appalled at the repulsiveness of the Red and Blue candidates for the Big Job. From my perspective, here’s the difference between the two guys:
That’s the list. Everything that matters enough to me to shift my vote, they’re in agreement. There is a truism in advertising that says that the more time and money spent differentiating a product from a competitor, the more similar the products really are. We are effectively faced, come November 2, with the choice of Bud Lite or Miller Lite, Coke or Pepsi, Ford or Chevrolet. I’m sure people smarter than me see differences between these two rich ruling-class shit-don’t-stink preppie clowns – though I guarantee you those smart people won’t see the same differences – but I don’t. Bring me somebody with radical new ideas, and I’ll listen.
I feel better now. I’ll return to comedy and leering tomorrow, I promise.