Half-Wits And Hellhounds
Eh. Muhhh. Pbbt.
So, it’s like this.
I’ve mostly cooled it on the political posts — not because I think authors shouldn’t talk about religion or politics (to the contrary, I think they should, because authors who are only mouthpieces for their books are boring donkeys), but because a) I’ve been busy and b) I’ve been trying not to think about it, the way one might casually ignore the rabid gorilla with the fire axe standing in the corner of the room.
Which, of course, makes me part of the problem.
While the Tea Party has been stomping on people’s heads making lots of raucous ruckus about their points, the Democrats and Independents have been politely sipping tea rather than misspelling racist political signs trying to make an actual point. The most we do is get online and start Tumblr accounts and say, “Hey, haha, look at these assholes and their silly signs,” and then we all high-five one another and tickle each other’s doily-draped balls and then wonder on Election Day exactly how it is that the same assholes who can’t spell “Moron” somehow tra-la-la’ed their way into power.
Listen, as an author, you start to see how the entire world around you is a tangled skein of many narratives. Some of these narratives are genuine, and many more are artifice, but when a narrative grows legs and gains momentum, it’s never impotent. The story matters. And stories compete. Truth versus fiction. Ignorance versus awareness. Any versus counts: men versus women, liberal versus conservative, old versus young, homophobic racist monster fuckfaces versus enlightened tea-sipping cherub cheeked pinheads.
And so on, and so forth.
Thing is, we have increasingly allowed the loudest monkey in the room tell the story. I mean, it makes sense from a spectacle standpoint: big froth-mouthed chimpanzee swings up to the podium and starts screeching out something approaching a story and hey, we’re all rapt. What is that monkey saying? Hahaha! Silly monkey. Listen to how loud he is! Look at his big bug eyes! He’s so cute in that gray Pee-Wee Herman suit of his and OH NO OH MY GOD HE’S BITING MY FACE OFF AND NOW WE’RE ELECTING HIM TO OFFICE WHAT THE FUCK WHAT THE FUUUUUUU –
It’s like this: you see a particularly troublesome child running around the yard chasing the cat with a pair of scissors. You can stand by and be entertained by this. Or you can stand by clucking your tongue and saying, “Tsk, tsk, tsk, he is eventually going to either stab that poor cat or cut off his ear with those scissors.” Or you can get off your crap-can and do something about it. Yell! Grab the scissors! Protect the cat!
That is the current political process, and for the most part, Democrats and Independents (and even the GOP to a point) stood back and chose one of the first two choices rather than stepping in, yelling at the kid, and taking away his scissors. And now scissor-wielding cat-chaser kid can make legislation.
For the most part, the election yesterday felt like a battle between half-wits and hellhounds. It felt like — what? It felt like a choice between active evil and passive incompetence. Intolerance? Or ignorance? As I tweeted yesterday, in Star Wars terms it was a battle between Darth Vader and Jar-Jar Binks. Sure, Darth is an evil child-murdering and Jedi-killing dude. But at least he gets up in the morning and knows what the fuck is going on. Jar-Jar just bumbles around and steps in shit and seems blissfully unaware of his own stink. No, of course you don’t want Darth Vader to rule your lands. But when the question comes up: “Hey, what are we going to do about the economy?” at least Darth has an answer:
“We’re going to sell the shit out of Wookiee pelts,” Darth says.
And you’re like, “But — whoa. Whoa. I cannot abide that, Doctor Vader. Wookiees? We love Wookiees. They’re cute, but in a, ‘I Will Tear Off Your Face Over A Bad Game Of Parcheesi’ kind of way.”
Darth just shrugs.
Then you ask Jar-Jar. Hey, blah blah blah, economy?
“Meesa don’t know! But meesa sure it gonna mooey mooey work out!”
And then Jar-Jar poops in his hand and wipes it in his big floppy hairless bunny ears.
It doesn’t take long to be like, “Ehhh. Nnngh. Thank you, Senator Binks? (Jesus, is he really the incumbent?) Okay, sorry, Wookiees. We like you and all, but it’s time to give up those pelts. At least Vader over here has a plan. Like, any plan at all.” Because when you’re stuck in a hole and you feel like all is lost, who are you going to listen to? The guy who shrugs or the guy who says, “If we kill one of our own and use their bones to make a step-ladder, we can all live?”
Do I believe the Democrats really don’t have a plan?
To a degree. It certainly doesn’t feel unified. They’ve had the majority for how long now, and they can’t seem to come together. If you want to give the GOP anything, it’s that they organize well. Even in the face of Tea Party mutiny they still put a pretty bold smile on it and come together in the end, a fractious empire made whole. The Democrats act like a box of cats shaken up and loosed into a Macy’s store.
I don’t believe that the Democrats have accomplished nothing. We, as a very impatient country, expected everything to get fixed in two years, which is borderline brain-diseased as far as notions go, but what I do believe is that the Democrats did little to combat the narrative — there’s that word again, “narrative” — that they accomplished nothing. Only in recent weeks did I start to hear how they “did some shit,” which was accurate but far too late, and in far too quiet a church-mousey voice.
Again, it’s the kid-with-the-scissors chasing a cat. The Democrats are the parents trying to reason with an unreasonable child by “communicating.” “Tommy, honey, shh. Stop chasing the cat with the scissors. I’m sure the kitty doesn’t appreciate that. Would you appreciate being chased by a boy with scissors?” I swear, we were on vacation in Hawaii and a couple was carting two children up to the Kilauea Lighthouse, and the one child was squalling and carrying on as children are wont to do, and the parents were trying to reason with this screeching three-year-olds.
They literally said: “Honey, if you don’t stop crying we’re about to enter a ‘Time-Out Situation.'”
A time-out situation?
That is not language a screaming child understands, nor cares about.
And so it goes with the Democrats, whose language used to describe their successes sounds right in line with that. They never boldly stepped forth and said, “Here’s the list of awesome shit we did. Boom!” They never dropped the mic and strode triumphant off stage. They always felt like a nebbishy fist-struck nerd trying to justify why you should not, again, hit him in the face.
So, they lose.
They lost the narrative. We lost the narrative.
Lose the narrative, lose the election.
Now the GOP — a party whose ideals I don’t necessarily oppose on paper but of course the “fiscally conservative” party spends record-setting amounts of money to get elected, so, uhhh, ehhh, eek? — has sauntered forth to steal the podium, and a number of the Tea Party lackwits have stepped up to do the same, and this is a trend that will continue.
Unless we can change the narrative.
I’m not convinced we can. I’m not convinced we care enough. I’m not convinced that liberals actually have the backbone. I’m not convinced that they won’t flinch — again and again — any time the GOP fake a punch (“two for flinching!”). I’m not convinced that our voices are loud enough. Sure, we like to giggle and nod at the Rally for Sanity, and I certainly enjoyed watching that entertainment on the television, but once again — church mouse voices speaking only to other church mice, painting with so broad a brush to be generally meaningless. A whimper, not a bang.
I might be too cynical. It might just be the political hangover talking.
But two years ago the message was YES, WE CAN.
Now I think the message is, EHH, MAYBE NOT REALLY SO MUCH PLEASE DON’T HIT ME.