So it’s election season again in the US, and the press is all abuzz over the recent declarations of candidacy. Last time around, I still cared a bit, mostly out of habit I suppose. I liked Romney, who I think is a fundamentally decent man, and I was disappointed to see such a talented, intelligent and enterprising fellow rejected in favor of an inept fool like Obama. So I was interested to that extent.
But Christian reaction had by then so permeated my being that I knew the only difference the election might possibly make is that of a few percentage points in my federal tax rate. Not that those percentages are unimportant, for they are, and the welfare of millions hangs upon them; but thanks to the mind-boggling deficits of the first four Obama years, they are upward bound, for the foreseeable future, almost no matter what. Obama spent so much money that no future administration is going to be able to cut taxes. Obama has eliminated all room for such maneuvers. It’s a genius move, albeit not the move of a genius.
Evil is fundamentally stupid. You can be ingeniously evil, but to be evil in the first place is stupid. E.g., you can devise a brilliant plan to rob a bank, but robbing a bank is an essentially stupid thing to do.
The genius of Obama is in doing stupid evil; that’s the one thing he seems to do really well, despite the impression that with this as with everything else he is apparently backing into it unawares, albeit looking good and streetable in so doing. He *looks* like a pro, see; that’s the thing. He shucks and jives with very few false notes, even though it is clear, if you watch him for half a moment as if you had just met him in the street, that he has no idea what he is doing, no idea what the words he says actually mean. He’s all bluff; all hat, no cattle, as they say in Texas. Clueless. But good at it!
But I digress. The 2012 election did not matter much, I knew. The course was set, other options – even minor changes of heading – had dwindled to wild improbability, and we were headed steeply downward no matter who won.
As the 2014 elections have amply demonstrated.
Nevertheless, I watched with interest. But, not this time. The whole thing is now like an incredibly bad daytime soap opera, so painfully inept even as fantasy that I can’t bear to attend to it. The whole exercise is so patently false, so obviously completely irrelevant, thoroughly dishonest, and most of all stupid, that as with an aggressively bad TV show, you have to wonder how the actors can bring themselves to say their lines. It’s so boring that the boredom of it is excruciating. I’d rather watch paint dry. Literally: this afternoon I watched as a sample of paint dried and changed color (to see if it would look right when it did)(I wasn’t wasting time, see?), and it was more interesting than the election news. The thought of actually sitting down to read something about Hillary, Marco et alia is about as alluring as the prospect of taking sandpaper to my fingertips.
It’s like the half-time show at the Superbowl: ginned up, fake, full of noise, flashes, skin, shouting, hurry, and spastic jerks, signifying … nothing whatsoever.
But then, this my visceral boredom and irritation with the political show is interesting in itself. Is it just that I’m getting old and cynical, nothing new under the sun, etc.? Or is there something different at work? Am I not the only one? Are youngsters, too, declining to tune in? Is the whole thing now so completely disconnected from any living reality that it is all cost, no benefit, and ought therefore to be avoided like the plague?
I am sure that there is in my reaction something of the former, of the man who tires of the hurry and noise of quotidian life and as his dotage approaches yearns for the quiet and peace of the countryside, of the truly important businesses of the insects and birds, the trees and flowers, and of course the grandchildren, that do really signify. But too I feel that there is in this reaction something also of the latter – that our public life has got so very false and absurd that it is, not just for me, but for many others, more and more *impossible to watch.*
But if that is the case, then beware, because it means that things are going to change. The networks cannot long survive if we start to tune out. If the politics of the republic are no more alluring, no more interesting, and no more remunerative than a run of the mill reality show, then it will be back to rewrite, pronto. Hollywood needs the issues to seem real, and really decided, in order for people to get really excited about them, or interested.
Politics could indeed get interesting again, if there were any possibility of anything other than a rerun of last season, amped up a notch. What would it be like if reaction were needed as a dramatis persona? Like the guy who, in the middle of filming, smashes into and through the set on his Harley, kicking the whole production up a level or two in the hierarchy of show business self-reference?
If that opportunity should arise, we must be careful not to take it; must be careful to act from our own conviction of the Right, without partaking of the delectations of the Show, or engaging in its discourse. Nothing could be worse for us than to be co-opted by the Show. No: we must reject it, root and branch. Our tenor, our constant, dreadful threnody, must be this, and only this: Turn back, O Man, forswear thy Foolish Ways – your Whole Show Sucks. Get real, or Go to Hell. Your choice.
In the meantime, let us all attend to the great work of the birds, of the sky, of the winds and of the earth. Let us attend to our children, and their earnest engagement with Reality, and their search for Truth. Let us do the things that are worth doing, that therefore merit life in the first place, and that are worth dying to preserve. And let us be ready to die, rather than forsake them.
Finally, let’s enjoy the spectacle as the scrim of the Show catches fire and begins to Collapse™. Nothing like a nice cozy fire. Hear the crickets?