The Great Divide
Over the weekend I accidentally got into a rather bitter argument with a righty; she seemed normal enough at first, but I found after a very short time that I couldn’t put up with her, because there is simply no getting through to such people, nor is there any way to politely skirt politics with True Believers. Just as it was during the Bush years, the righties are sowing their oats and waxing triumphant yet again, yet they still cannot point to any such triumphs, except at the ballot box (or Supreme Court, as the case may be…). Then as now, they believe that every liberal idea since Torquemada has been again decisively proven wrong, and the only thing left for us liberals is to fold our tents and go home, and take the gays, blacks, poor, environmentalists, Muslims, “illegals” and what have you with us, and all the world’s problems will be magically solved.
Trouble is, of course, that mass genocide is problematic, both logistically and politically, and as such a whole lot of human beings unworthy of consideration stubbornly continue to exist, seemingly out of spite. Take the world’s billion or so Muslims: ”They” attacked us on 911, and as such no threat of national bankruptcy can deter us from teaching them a lesson, using bombs, drones, invasions, broomsticks, and buckets of water as visual aids, and when they’re slow on the uptake, bring in the dogs. War is peace, and don’t you forget it. Chickenhearted fretting about the inevitable blowback is dismissed out of hand, and the cost, what cost? Apparently, the “small government” righties so relentlessly fetishize can afford to have lots of wars going on while enforcing deep austerity at home, even though thousands of years of history say no.
In an interesting little video speech of Jay Rosen talking about Fox News that Balloon Juice linked to over the weekend, Rosen outlined the ease with which right-thinking Americans are taught to forget what happened five minutes ago, at five-minute intervals, and thus continue to hold their rather counterintuitive but yet startlingly consistent beliefs. Though Rosen lapses into a lot of boring self-indulgence in his 15-minute lecture, he hits on an important truth: what is actually happening on any given day is incidental to the right, since the story told will always be the same. Those elitist liberals and dirty darkies are at it again, and here’s why you should be resentful, and continue watching Fox to feel better.
Some sharp-eyed liberal smarty called this drearily familiar phenomenon “epistemic closure,” and ought to be permanently silenced for it. What it is, you don’t need a sheepskin from Harvard to see; a bunch of craven and self-interested malefactors of great wealth have bought up huge chunks of the public discourse and with it a thriftily slim majority of our elected officials, and they have a neat and ever expanding fairy tale to explain why this is a good thing for people who think “epistemic” has to do with boils or something. These people are being systematically taught to reject all “facts” as some sort of liberal plot, and keep clicking their heels and visualizing Kansas, even as their puppet masters laugh all the way to their eighth vacation home (via Gulfstream).
Republican policies, which above all favor the wealthiest over everyone else, always tend to make most Americans angry and insecure, so Republican politics, since they’ve been in such ascendance these past dozen or so years, are now about channeling that understandable anger into electing more Republicans, usually by declaring that non-Republican people are just bad, and no attention should be paid to them. They call liberals naive Utopians and whatnot, but yet their own unbroken and provable record of failure is airily dismissed because the despised and un-American liberals stood in the way of their greatest achievements, and next time they’ll get it right, you’ll see.
No Republican has ever balanced a budget in my entire lifetime, and no Democrat has ever markedly increased it, but the Republicans are the party of Fiscal Responsibility. The stock market, under Democratic Presidents, has performed markedly better than under Republican misrule, but the Republicans are the party of prosperity. Abortions go up under Republican Presidents and down under Democratic ones, but the Republicans are the “pro-life” party. No Republican has ever won a war (since that man, Lincoln, anyway), but the Republicans are the biggest, baddest, thing going on the world stage. No Republican has ever advanced a policy whose benefits would even peripherally redound the the non-rich majority, but they call the Democrats “elitist.”
It isn’t easy living with so many flagrant contradictions, but it is easier when you believe, as the Red Queen said, many “impossible things” before breakfast. That’s why God made “Fox and Friends.” If Miss America believes it, it must be true, especially so early in the morning.