Like Finding Hay in a Haystack–The Cretinism of the Political Divide


WHILE NEGOTIATING MY SALARY as the Wednesday cog at the Weeklings it was agreed that I would handle politics exclusively. I figured, sure, why not? Tons of material there. I’ve been the politics guy before elsewhere, and it was definitely more interesting than when I was the sports guy. Or even the restaurant blurb guy (the broccoli rabe was too salty, the Merlot was overpriced, I’m not a big fan of salmon tiramisu, etc.) But here we are, six columns in, and I’ve yet to say anything about the state of the state, let alone the union. Why? I guess because I’ve come to realize that almost any utterance across the political spectrum containing the least degree of certainty now bores me shitless. (Why less? Why not “shitmore” or “shitbound” or “shitpacted”?) At any rate, I no longer have the will to try and convince anyone of anything, even while strapped with an overwhelming arsenal of facts. Because facts no longer matter, and information is relative. Take global warming. Sea rising an inch a year? No snow on Mt. Ararat? Massive die-off of innumerable species? It’s all meaningless, if only because no matter how dire things become, there will always be a lab in a Tampa strip mall willing to feed enough pie charts to negate a billion starving people, let alone a permafrost’s worth of methane.

"I am dead, but my legacy of refuting inarguable science lives on in those poisoned by my stridency."

Hey, the internet itself is a vast grey ocean. Without horizons or knowable depth. It’s the sound of innumerable people breathlessly opining (posting, tweeting, drowning) set to the nods of pixel-friends who already agree with them. If “likes” were castanets, we’d all be contestants on So You Think You Can Flamenco? Which brings me to FOX. Say what you want about the Murdoch legacy, but it’s a master class in cutting through the static. In fact, I’ve begun to suspect their programming is neither left nor right, right nor wrong. And was never intended to be. It’s a massive uni-directional air horn. A blast of high-frequency current meant to reduce everything within broadcast radius to hapless inertia. Or even insanity. In exactly the same way I Got Moves Like Jagger, the toxic stuxnet of melodies, has no discernible politics or viewpoint. It’s pork and fat and salt stuffed aimlessly into the meme-o-sphere, and we are one giant, translucent sausage casing gleefully sucking it up.

You put the virus in my centrifuge

So here’s my column: Obama better win, or the leader of the free world will be an argyle sock. Done.

"Corporations eat people, my friend."

Okay, but what should you do from now until the election? Nothing. Every syllable Wolf Blitzer utters from the time you finish this sentence until the time he declares a new president is a steaming squirt of tedium. And that goes for all the networks, papers, pamphlets, speeches, sites, blogs, rants, columns, tweets, videos, press releases, position papers, tumblrs, and posts that make the case for anything but six months of silent, genial even-handedness.

You are welcome to now envision me in a pose not unlike this.

Here’s the one inarguable thing I’ve learned during this election cycle: Republicans despise the poor for being too stupid to make themselves rich, and Democrats despise the poor for being too stupid to educate themselves about all the ways Republicans are cynically fucking them.

Yes, you can attribute that aphorism to me when you blast it out across the internet superimposed over a picture of a cat wearing a lime rind helmet.

What? I'm on epilepsy meds.

Whether you’re on the left or the right, you almost certainly think everyone on the other side is irreparably stupid. You might not admit it, and you’d probably never say it out loud, but it’s stuck there in the center of your chest like a cyst of hair and teeth. The truth is that most people on both sides are stupid. Everyone’s just convinced it’s not them. They take turns bitching about the great unwashed, the media elites, the welfare mothers, the Aryan brothers, the deluded and the denuded and the libertarian douches. But even the dumbest pig-fucking Georgia farmer is convinced he knows exactly The Way Things Should Be.

"Yes, I'm an agriculture student at Georgia and yes, I'm moderately fond of pigs. Sweet, soft, wallowy, butterfat pigs. So?"

Here’s a profound misunderstanding we all made without questioning it: Sarah Palin’s “real America” and “soccer moms” and “main street” stump phrases were never meant to describe a humble, admittedly unpolished, but proud segment of the population unrepresented by Washington. Her rhetoric was loudly and unabashedly trumpeting a supremacy of thought, life-style, and even geographical placement, represented by blindly placing your nose in the ass of not only the correct god, but the god that conveniently approves of the way in which you’re already living. Which is less the witless, sexy-librarian, ironic joke we’d imagined, and more like genuinely terrifying.

I am Zion's trumpet.

There’s a theory that says only 20% of the overall population of any given culture is capable of sustained, reasoned, analytical thought, and the rest are hopelessly addled by deep-fry revivalism and a taste for divisive boilerplate. Which is hard to argue with, even though it’s clear that the modern version of this nihilism began with Lee Atwater. That is to say a party-wide embrace of the notion that you (yes, you) are a finger-sniffing subnormal incapable of grasping the complex issues that underlie governance. So give us a whiff of Swift Boat instead. Give us a taste of Kenya and Mission Accomplished and Kitty Dukakis’ pill problem. We are all, in the end, being cynically condescended to. The parties just handle their wetwork differently. On the left, there’s New York, Chicago, and the West Coast, convinced that 200 million vaginal wand troglodytes are willing to vote away their rights and interests to every slick asshole who knows how to gay-up their fears and Jesus-down their rhetoric. On the right, there’s a vast swath of FamilyLand and ValuesMart, certain that the coasts are infested with a collection of fags, Jews, artists, essayists, actors, Sharptons, intellectuals, scientists, and anarchist professors. Where the theory originated or who it ultimately describes is meaningless, because it’s a self-serving and intellectually limiting delusion that both sides are equally wet up to the asshole in.

Willie Horton is a convenient joke and political reference, but he's also this guy, alive, in a cell, right now.

Here’s what conservatives want this country to be (or return to), epitomized in one person:

Tom Landry: White, stoic, hard-assed, old school, Christian, and a staunch proponent of the power running game.

Here’s what liberals want this country to be, epitomized in one person:

Barack Obama, the one we actually voted for: a dangling cig badass that should have spent the last four years insisting on a public option, refusing to extend his despised predecessor's ludicrous tax cuts, shuttering Guantanamo, defeating the filibuster, calling Mitch McConnell an obstructionist bitch to his face, legalizing drugs, freeing Mumia, and partying like it's 1999.



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About Sean Beaudoin

Sean Beaudoin (@seanbeaudoin) is the author of five novels, including The Infects and Wise Young Fool. His new short story collection, Welcome Thieves, is just out with Algonquin Books.
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