Saturday, June 03, 2006

The political morass

I don't write in my blog about politics much, partly because politics is too depressing, and partly because there's not a lot of opportunity for real enlightened intercourse about it. Everything's so polarized, and the great majority of people who have an opinion have it without any actual reasoning behind it, but just as a result of intuitions, ignorance, and manipulation.

There are really important things to be talking about out there. The ballooning federal deficit, and how six years has undone all the good of the previous eight twice over, under the rule of the party of fiscal responsibility. Soldiers dying needlessly and in vain because they're inadequately supplied and sent to fight the wrong battles. An energy crisis that makes anything from the 70s seem trivial, but which most people are blissfully ignorant of. An administration so mired in scandal and overt corruption that one wonders if the word "corruption" even means anything anymore. Millions of people devastated by disasters natural and manmade and the failure of the safety nets that should have protected them before or aided them after. A systematic erosion of civil rights, humane treatment, environmental protection, the fabric of diplomacy and foreign relations, and even the underpinnings of representative democracy.

But what are the political topics that grab all the attention? I don't even mean the bread and circuses that keep the public mollified with debate over who will be their next manufactured idol. I mean the people that actually talk about politics or read the news. What are they arguing about? Complete non-starter topics that don't even have any meat in them, like flag-burning amendments, or "intelligent design", or, worst of all, banning gay marriage.

Mounting a well-reasoned argument against one of these things is like getting a claymore to kill a fly. There's nothing there to argue against; there aren't really any arguments for them that stand up to even the most superficial of analysis. They're so obviously a tissue of manipulative, deception emotional appeals and shallow diction-play that they couldn't fool any but a real fool. How frustrating it is that 51% of voters are precisely the sort of fool that buys into these things... that will vote for a presidential candidate on the basis that he seems like he's dumb enough that they could share a beer.

Today's news is full of Bush pushing an amendment banning gay marriage and the mind boggles. Should I point out how many important things are being passed over to waste time on this? Or how obvious it is that this is just a distraction from the latest rounds of corruption and the latest soft poll numbers, the next iteration in a spin-cycle of artificially generated, carefully timed red-state outrage that keeps them too frothed to realize they're being hoodwinked? Or actually point out the obvious reasons why gay marriage is no threat to anyone, as if it could matter to repeat arguments that are already known and obvious to anyone who isn't intentionally hiding his head from them?

Short of someone inventing a virus that forces people to think, and releasing it in all the red states, I don't know anything that's going to get us out of this. I suppose the "decline and fall" is inevitable, and all I should be doing is hoping it holds up a little longer, just long enough until when I'm not around to care anymore. Make token gestures even if they aren't likely to reverse the decline: "do not go gentle into that good night; rage, rage against the dying of the light." Try to arrange my life so I can do without the things that are being taken away before they get taken away. Ride it out.

Or somehow, cling to hope? We have, as a nation, gone to sleep before, and then woken up. Those who are so unabashed at manipulating power have always before this gotten too cocky, too bald-faced, so much that even the red-state fuming ignorants said "hey, wait one cotton-picking minute!". The cumulative damage to the economy alone can sometimes stir up a vast angry hornet's nest of blue-collar not-normally-voters into making the election a crap-shoot. There are all kinds of ways things can turn around, and it always has before. Just have to last a little longer.

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