I’ve been asked several times, by the few people who even bother with me any more these days, why I remain obsessed with American politics, and why I didn’t just tune it all out long ago. They tell me they can’t bear the wretchedness of it all, can’t stand to contemplate the inanity, cynical chicanery, cruelty, and endless, ridiculous lies. Kathy, bless her heart, lets me watch MSNBC at all hours of the day and night, but mainly when she’s doing something else, or about to go off to sleep while I forge on into the wee hours – All In with Chris Hayes actually helps her get into the mood to head to bed – and she doesn’t much care for it if I want to strike up a conversation about this or that latest outrage. My fault. I’ll bring up the most unpleasant stuff at just the wrong moment, often while fast-forwarding through the commercials – Look, she’ll say, we’re watching Say Yes to the Dress, right? Not the time. In my bubble. The thing is, I feel like somebody has to keep watch. I feel, actually, like I’ve been left up here to man the parapets, and keep an anxious eye out for what’s probably on the way. Gotta tell you, the view is ominous, and the dread of waiting for that moment when the insidious, spreading ink blot of lunacy crests the last hill and seeps over the border to begin the destruction of my own, beloved country, is frickin awful. Yet doesn’t someone have to keep an eye peeled? We need to see this coming! We need to admit it’s happening! We’re all going to have to push back at some point.
It’s cold up here. I wouldn’t mind some company.
Just look at the headlines, pasted in above, which I managed to find in about twenty seconds of Google searching. Anti-mask protesters, anti-vaxxers, punters for Ivermectin and Hydroxychloroquine, rank anti-social selfishness and scientifically illiterate quackery galore. Here. In Canada. It’s already spreading north. When you ask me why I’m staring so intently at the wellsprings of madness in Red State MAGAWorld, it feels to me like we’re back in London in 1940, and you’re wondering why I keep obsessing over the radar coverage of a bunch of airstrips in northern France. Well, because, that’s where the bombers are coming from, and they mean to leave nothing but rubble, corpses, and smoking holes where used to stand everything we struggled hard all our lives to construct.
They’re coming. I can practically hear them.
These days I’m running mighty low on hope. Just today, I’m seeing on the news, the Premier of Ontario cancelled a press conference scheduled for the announcement of new (and badly needed) vaccine passport requirements. The policy hasn’t been abandoned, not yet, but clearly the Premier is spooked about the details, and probably wants to water something down in order to mollify the vocal dissenters who form a large part of his base, and also occupy a few chairs in his cabinet. We are, with respect to this and a lot of other matters, being run by noisy, restive minorities, and the dum-dums they elect within our minoritarian political systems. It’s rendering us incapable even of responding to life-and-death emergencies, let alone formulating long-term policy to head off looming existential threats. As this infernal pandemic has laid bare, these vocal, increasingly aggressive minorities share a number of toxic traits:
- Lack of empathy
- Unwillingness to sacrifice even the smallest scintilla of personal freedom in favour of the common good
- Complete incapacity for critical thought
- Endless grievance and entitlement
- Profound ignorance of all aspects of science, history, economics, world politics, domestic political realities, the functions of government, and the way things work, generally, particularly as regards the systems and institutions of civil society
- Complete inability to engage in cost/benefit analysis
- Deep suspicion of expertise and authoritative sources
- Complete credulity with respect to the most absurd conspiracy theories, transparent scams, rank lies, and old rhetorical tricks that ought to get laughed out of a room full of fourth graders
- Willingness to resort to violence to achieve political ends
- Atavistic terror of the Other
- Infinite capacity for denial and cognitive dissonance, even in the teeth of personal experience and the evidence of their own senses
I would once have attributed this litany of character disorders only to a peculiar, if sizeable, set of American MAGA cultists under the thrall of Trump and his GOP cronies and fellow travellers, but clearly we’ve got them here too. Not as many, and not as bad, but it seems to me that a healthy society ought to include almost nobody – nobody not under the present custody of the prison system, anyway – who fits the profile. There sure as shit shouldn’t be a policy-warping voting bloc of the bastards to whom top elected officials feel beholden, and compelled to appease.
What went wrong?
How do we fix this horrific mess?
These people are taking veterinary medicines designed to clean worms out of the guts of livestock, while claiming that vaccines are part of conspiracy led by Bill Gates – or is it the Rothschilds, or George Soros? – to control our brains, or track our movements, or something. Meanwhile COVID, which could have been fully suppressed, is back almost as bad as ever, and mutating within human hosts who refused to do anything to protect themselves. You think Delta is bad? If Delta is the worst variant we get, the Cosmos will have cut us a break we truly don’t deserve.
What’s next? If Justin wins, will there be claims that he stole the election? How is this my country?
If this is the best we can do with all the advantages gifted us by luck, history, science, and the the blood, toil, tears and sweat of prior generations, we’re doomed. We are doomed as a civilization.