I am worried (politics)

I find it weird that Dino Rossi ends up looking like such a tool even in his own ads.

But I’m worried.

I don’t have a television, really, so I only see TV in bars and gyms. And I keep seeing his stupid ads, and generic anti-Democrat ads, and it seems like I never see any Patty Murray ads. I saw one generic pro-Democrat ad. When I see data about the Republicans getting all this big business money for the campaign, I believe it. They are clearly spending like drunken sailors. And I’m worried it’s going to pay off.

I’m worried that the so-called "enthusiasm gap" will keep Democrats and liberals from voting, that people are tired of hoping for better and weathering the storm and are ready to just give up and let the greater evil win because maybe then at least they’ll shut up for a while.

Note: they won’t shut up. They’ll gloat. Do you really want that?

I’m worried about the major pouters on the left who have decided that half full is never good enough, and if we "send a message" by letting Democrats lose, I don’t know, we’ll get a new glass or something?

Note: the Democrats are the party that is half wrong. The Republicans are the party that is all wrong. This is why I vote for Democrats. But it’s frustrating to vote for Democrats, because they are still half wrong.

Note: This is not going to change any time in the foreseeable future.

Note: When I say the Republicans are all wrong, I still think it’s worth making a distinction between "wrong, but we can discuss it over a beer" and "so wrong it makes my eyes bleed and forces a sanity check." With every election cycle, Republicans move more toward the latter.

I’m worried that the relentless pro-Republican/anti-Democrat message of the mainstream media is going to make the typical centrist, low-information, short-memory voter more sympathetic to Republicans. Because everything sucks right now, and the Democrats are (nominally) in charge. So. Therefore.

Note: knowing that Republican plans will, almost without question, make everything suck even harder requires a slightly higher level of noticing what’s going on.

I’m worried that the teaparty Republicans will pick up seats in the House and the Senate without even having to try to pretend to be a little bit sane.

So I’m worried about all that. And yet, I’m not sure how worried to be. Because there’s always another election on the horizon.

It’s hard to make long-term predictions, because a lot of predictions are based on "if this goes on…" and things don’t tend to go on.

Would teaparty victories mean a brave new world of unhinged right wing craziness? Or a major backlash against Republicans that crushes them so badly that the American right has to form an entirely new party?

It’s hard to know until you get there.

One of the memes getting a fair amount of traction right now is the idea that the US economy, and perhaps the economy of the entire developed world, is going to remain in the toilet for the forseeable future. ()

I see it more from the left, because right now Republicans are trying to convince people that if you just vote for them, things are going to get better again. But once you do vote for them (silly people) they’re probably going to start making suggestions about how the middle class has had it too easy for the last 80 years or so and everybody should get used to a lower standard of living, except the already wealthy, who clearly deserve more than you.

Okay, so, the Bush years. An economic expansion fueled pretty much *entirely* by the now-popped housing bubble. Economic activity generated by consumer debt. There was a lot of government debt too, but I’m not sure where that was going exactly, except maybe to pals of Dick Cheney. And people in Saudi Arabia.

Note: most of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudi Arabian.

When the bubble collapsed, nobody had any money. You don’t have any money. The banks don’t have any money except what they got from the government. The government doesn’t have any money. Where did all the money go? Who has that money?

Rich people.

Wall Street traders.

The CEO who laid you off and took home a multi-million dollar bonus.

The financial wheeler-dealers who got us into this mess.

So, these people are the only people with money, and yet the Republicans go all fainting-couch whenever you suggest extracting a bit more from them in the form of taxes. I guess that tells you what the Republicans are all about.

Note: if the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy created jobs, wouldn’t they already be doing that?

I worry that the only reason progressive social change ever happens is when the entrenched powers start to worry that le guillotine is coming for their own precious necks. Because I’m a soft-hearted liberal type, I don’t want to believe that there has to be blood in the streets before real change happens. I’m just afraid I might be wrong.

A few years ago I read Major Barbara and suddenly felt like I understood the second amendment: it really is about keeping the implicit threat of revolution alive, so just maybe, you don’t have to actually have one.

And, yeah, sometimes these smug, wealthy right wingers make me so angry that I fantasize about them getting torn apart by an angry mob.

But I worry, because the less wealthy right wingers seem to be the only ones forming angry mobs right now.

What kind of revolution would the teapartiers have? Many of their ideas are bizarrely regressive, like repealing a bunch of Constitutional amendments. They’re kind of like fascists — anti-gay, anti-immigrant, anti-diversity of ideas — and yet they’re not promising to get the trains running on time, they’re promising to rip up the tracks and make sure there aren’t any trains at all. Who really wants that sort of thing? When has a society ever thrived by moving aggressively backwards?

Nobody is really against government spending. They say they are. But you know, people just say stuff. It’s not even really lying. It’s more like reciting magic words. Cut taxes! Cut spending! Shrink government! But people don’t tend to sit down and think through what that is likely to mean in the real world. Nobody actually likes living in a broken-down, disease-ridden hellhole ruled by criminal gangs and ruthless warlords. They just don’t think that’s what’s going to happen. They think they’ll get libertarian paradise.

Note: There is no libertarian paradise.

Actually, there’s no paradise at all. Whenever people start promising you paradise, look out.

A lot of things the government does for us are like oxygen: invisible, ubiquitous, easy to take for granted, until it’s not there and suddenly AGH I’M CHOKING TO DEATH ARGLE BRK

Is there government waste? Of course. But start asking people what waste they, specifically, would cut, and it all gets a little vague. Everybody likes their own welfare, their own pork, their own little piece of government spending.

And yet this election cycle is a little weird, Rossi actually does seem to be campaigning to remove pork *from our own state.* Vote for me, I’ll eliminate your job! Doesn’t have much of a ring to it, does it? So why is it working? Are people just not connecting the dots? Or do all right-leaning voters have a weird blind spot where they literally cannot recognize anything that benefits them personally as being due to "government spending"?

(I think the reasoning goes something like this: government spending = bad. Me having money = good. Therefore, government spending *cannot possibly* be responsible for me having money.)

(And then the robots all get confused and turn themselves off.)

A lot of right wing rhetoric really seems to come down to the notion that there is a veritable army of losers (read: non-white, non-native) out there getting something they don’t deserve, and IF WE COULD JUST stop giving THOSE people stuff they don’t deserve, then I (Mr./Miss Teaparty 2010) would have everything I deserve. You know, money, fame, security, a sense of personal power. True love. Washboard abs.

Whenever a sentence begins with "If we could just…", look out. There is no "just." Everything is more complicated than that.

I have a paranoid theory. This paranoid theory is that Obama was *allowed* to win in 2008 by the right wing powers that be. They own enough of the voting machinery, they could have made sure McCain/Palin squeaked it out. But they didn’t want to do that this time. They knew the economy was going to suck for a while, they knew voters were getting fed up with Republican rule, they knew a lot of things were failing all at once, there was a risk that another four years and Sarah Palin could truly push people over the edge. Armed revolution over the edge. Blood in the streets over the edge.

So they thought, let’s get a Democrat to take the heat for a while. We’ll collaborate with the other Republicans — House, Senate, Governors — to ensure that there isn’t much liberal progress during his presidency, and to ensure, above all, that the economy does not improve. We own the media, so we can spin the narrative however we like. Most people aren’t paying much attention, they’ll just blame the guy in the White House if their lives suck.

And, oh, it’ll be a black guy. We can really *use* that to get certain people all worked up.

Then, after four years of things sucking, the American people will eagerly welcome their new Republican overlords. Things will continue to suck, of course, but the media will also continue to be running our press releases for us so they will assist us in pretending that things don’t suck.

Everybody wins! Except the American people, of course. But really, who cares about those losers?

I have another paranoid theory. This paranoid theory is that we reached peak oil in 1976 and some industry insiders, like Dick Cheney, know this. The 20th century belonged to the USA because we mastered cheap oil. People like Dick Cheney want to hold onto that hegemony as long as possible. They know the 21st century will belong to whatever country masters post-cheap-oil. And they are afraid, because they don’t know who that will be.

It could still be us, though. That’s the thing we don’t know. We could be on the verge of everything sucking forever, or on the verge of a new golden age, or who knows?

Note: it will only seem like a golden age in retrospect, after it’s all over. During the actual golden age, everybody will still spend most of their time complaining about stuff.

Note: when people stop complaining, look out. That’s when things are really bad.

We make the future every day. It’s not a roller coaster ride that we’ve been strapped to. It can feel that way, but it’s not. It’s an unfolding fractal pattern. That’s chaos theory. You are a butterfly flapping its wings. We are all butterflies flapping our wings.

And I’d like you all to flap your wings by voting.

Unless you’re planning to vote Republican.


  1. “so wrong it makes my eyes bleed and forces a sanity check.”

    Goddamn roleplayer, dropping in the mechanics of the Call of Cthulhu game.

    A lot of right wing rhetoric really seems to come down to the notion that there is a veritable army of losers (read: non-white, non-native) out there getting something they don’t deserve, and IF WE COULD JUST stop giving THOSE people stuff they don’t deserve, then I (Mr./Miss Teaparty 2010) would have everything I deserve. You know, money, fame, security, a sense of personal power. True love. Washboard abs.

    Sounds like someone’s grabbing the wrong end of the Objectivist stick. Objectivism is wrong in a lot of points, but you can tell when someone’s got the wrong impression of an idea

    I think that the Republicans knew that winning the 2008 election would be a bad move and at best they’d be digging themselves into a hole. So the put up some token resistance, picked a few candidates and took it gracefully so they could get into opposition, crap over the Obama administration, and come in once the economy is starting to look up again. In Bridge terms, it’s a discard on a trick so you save your better cards for when you have a better chance to win a trick and then win some more.

    1. Author

      Call of Cthulhu is a useful metaphor for so much in life.

      1. True dat. Also a handy way of explaining why you’ve sided with Team Evil. Cthulhu has a massive potential of uses, as does his cult of followers, Yog-Sothoth and Nyacrothep (Although he probably see us as having a massive potential of uses)

  2. I saw a bunch of

    Patty Murray ads on Komo in the morning when I stayed in seattle earlier this week.

    Whats hard to get your head around is the actual thinking processes right wing people use. Reasoning with them is a lost cause in some cases simply because they fundamentally view the world so differently.

    Authoritarian followers tend to overtrust police/officials and pithy homespun statements really resonate well with them. They can hold multiple conflicting viewpoints on things and feel no remorse.

    They also don’t check for consistency as much as other kinds of people do. This atmosphere makes it easy for sleazy candidates to grab power.

    Overall, the best reading I’ve had on how right wing american’s think was done by a canadian professor who made this book free: http://members.shaw.ca/jeanaltemeyer/drbob/TheAuthoritarians.pdf

    His comment on the tea party movement is very scathing and a good read: http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/~altemey/drbob/Comment%20on%20the%20Tea%20Party.pdf

    1. Author

      Re: I saw a bunch of

      His analysis of the teaparty is pretty good, thanks.

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