No One Masturbates to C-SPAN But Maybe They Should
A man stands on the sidelines of a fight. The melee is more words tossed at one another than actual blows and neither opponent even bothers to notice the man so he watches. Both sides of the struggle scream insults at one another. The rage they exhibit is almost comical if viewed from the man’s self deluded objectivity — they’re both so goddamned hysterically angry.
Both sides use their version of morality as a bludgeon against the other. Both opponents zealously use anything and everything they can think of to knock the other off balance, to obstruct them, to defeat them.
The man on the sidelines just observes. Either one of the raging combatants could enlist him in their fight, tipping the balance, but they are so focused on their self righteous causes, they ignore him completely.
Eric Wilson, in his column American Shithole, asks “Who are we, America?” as he spews out another brilliantly written rant against the Powers That Be in Trump’s Regime.
Roughly 5% of the American public see America as a once shining beacon of hope to the world and, in an effort to turn back the clock, are willing to brick by brick allow the dismantling of the attempts to equalize the landscape of her people. A blind eye to rollbacks on voter rights, education, healthcare, affirmative action, policing reform, and practically everything from the New Deal to the Civil Rights Act is subject to destruction. This 5% has convinced another 20% to vote with them
Roughly 5% of America are idealists, hoping against hope that the country can live up to the rhetoric of its founders (all while tearing the very idea of its founders from the pedestal of history) and seeking a better, more just, more utopian society. They are activists and work toward everything from equal bathroom rights for transgender persons to the reforming of police culture to increased awareness of our racist past (and present) to the centuries old subjugation of women. The fight for the health of the planet, the education of the children, the rights of the downtrodden and left behind. This 5% have convinced another 20% to vote with them.
Roughly 50% of the country is watching from the sidelines, ignored by the other two sides. A state of willful apathy. They are busy working, coming home exhausted, grabbing a tasty adult beverage and watching Dancing with the Stars or a pirated copy of Pacific Rim 2. They don’t see anyone really doing anything about the problems of the country as American politics hit a stagnant point of forward momentum soon after Reagan blew the rims off of things by winning the presidency with 525 out of 538 Electoral College votes weighing in for him. Ever since, it has been a matter of one side beating the other side but just barely.
Some of them voted for Bill Clinton but Bill signed the Omnibus legislation and fucked an intern. Some of them kept the faith and voted for Obama but Obama deported more immigrants than any president before and used deadly model airplanes to kill civilians. Some voted for McCain but had to hold their gag reflex in check because, you know, Palin. Some voted for W but then he declared the longest war in American history based on bullshit evidence. And because the system is corrupt and broken, they weren’t surprised at all when Trump won.
These people don't feel supported by their community, their schools, their government. When they get sick, no one cares. Why should they care back? They see that everyone else is speeding, so they hammer the accelerator as well – what's the point in being the only one who doesn't? They are incensed by school shootings yet no progress is ever made, so they check out. This is referred to as the bystander phenomenon. 50% of the country has given up on society in any active sense.
That’s who we are.
My wife recently made the observation that, on Literate Ape, I am the closest thing we have to a Right Wing voice. This alarmed me. Anyone who knows me (no, not from the internet or from gossip or from an ex-girlfriend) knows that I am anything but Right Wing. A Right Wing voice? Are you joking?
In our very polarized political cottage, it goes without much extrapolation that today is a “You’re With Us or Against Us” environment and, in that frame, I am both a LibTard and a Neo-Nazi depending on whose opinion I am skeptical of and how I decide to voice that opinion. As David once wrote “If there were to be an actual revolution in this country, I'm concerned that neither side would have me as a soldier.”
Rather than try to defend myself in that context, I decided to look into it a bit. Go back and re-read essays written. Find out where this assertion came from. Prosecute myself in depth. Understand why I may be seen as anything but the dyed in the wool, old school Liberal that I see myself to be.
At core, I believe in the freedom to choose.
To choose where you live, how you make a living, what you do to your body and what others do to it, as well. Freedom of religious or political expression. Freedom to be wrong.
I believe the government should stay out of our personal lives but that it is government’s responsibility to ensure equal protections, equity, justice and dignity to all citizens under the umbrella of that body. I believe in the feasibility and obligation for the government to provide universal healthcare, a streamlined pathway to citizenship, a military force for defense, protection of the environment, and the regulation of corporate industry.
I believe that it isn’t the angry activists on the street that will change society but the Ryan Cooglers and Jordan Peeles and Patty Jenkins who will right the ship’s course. By being excellent at what they do and telling stories society desperately needs to hear and succeeding in creating communal experiences that millions upon millions of Americans share, their work influences everyone and in a convincing way.
I also believe our choices all have consequences and that to use your background, marginalization, privilege, victim status, suffering or success as an avoidance of those consequences is the bullshit reasoning of a child. This is the part that revokes my Progressive card for many.
I am a Liberal who really dislikes the most strident and extreme of the Progressives. I mean, disliking the extreme Right Wing is so fucking easy and obvious, calling them out is like calling out dogs for squatting when they shit or the sun for being a giant, flaming ball of gas. Who, in their right mind, doesn’t already know that these guys are lying assholes and what benefit do we garner for repeating it?
No, despising the Tea Partiers and Trumpsters is so easy and unchallenging as to be kind of silly. They aren’t listening so I’m not almost ever talking to them. It’s the goddamned Progressive Extreme, the Army of the Identity Victimhood, the Knee-jerk, Call-out Mafia whom I take issue with. And #FuckTrump isn’t brave or oriented to change — it is an eighth grade taunt and nothing more.
At 52, this is what I know. Almost all of the problems we face today can be solved with A) legislation and B) enforcement of legislation. To effectively change the policies to be more Progressive, we have one tool at our disposal — democracy. Six million more people voted for HRC than Trump yet, based upon the system that we all agreed to live with (because so far, no one has had an epic protest of the Electoral College despite the fact that it hurts both puppies AND immigrant children in a long term sense) he won that election. Barely. Again.
If 5% of that aforementioned 50% of the citizenry living out that bystander phenomenon were convinced to vote our way and in the states that mattered at the time, the election has a very different outcome. Politics is not a fucking boxing match, it’s a chess game. And no one wins chess by screaming insults at their opponent or bashing them over the head with the board.
This means finding reasonable compromises and working with people less ideologically motivated by passion because passion is the enemy of reason. Passion is awesome when it comes to fucking, fighting, or fleeing but is lousy when trying to craft long term rules designed to protect everyone.
As my wife says, “No one masturbates to C-SPAN.” But maybe they should. In a democracy, it is the patience of voting and legislating that steers us toward the utopia we seek.
I'd spank it if we got universal healthcare. Maybe twice.