Tuesday, November 1, 2016

On the Silent Majority


An antidote for our never-ending national nightmare?
“She would say, yes, life is unfair, but don’t be one of those people who think the deck is stacked against them.”
- J. D. Vance, interview with Sean Illing on Vox.com

"Are you assholes listening now?"
- The most vividly meaningful line from an article all progressives should read.
I’m not clear on why I chose those two quotes to top a post that will talk about something entirely different. My best guess lands somewhere in the contrast between two lines of thought that are equally valid, but where one has more real-world value than the other.

The idea of the “Silent Majority:” has been in my head a lot lately. Donald Trump tried to appropriate the phrase (from Richard M. Nixon....think about that for a minute), but, appropriation being what it is, and math pointing where it does, Trump can’t claim he speaks for a “Silent Majority” – not least because the people he leads are fucking loud. Also, not a majority. That’s true regardless of the poll you consult.

I think Slate ran a piece on what the real Silent Majority sounds like. In a word, it’s sad. Probably more than a little sickened. Well, maybe sickened, then sad. Y’know, the feeling you get from eating an entire pint of ice cream in one sitting? Sucks, right?

Anyway, the existential nausea of the unfocused focus group (hat-tip: Rocky Horror Picture Show, if I’m being honest) captures where I think the actual majority of Americans live these days. What else is there to say about a world where public officials – e.g. people who, in a better world, should feel more qualified than you to run….anything – talk to you like elementary school teachers caught stealing your lunch money? That article was described as sad, but all I could think for as long as I read it was that I was “Fellow travelers!” I mean, these were my people! Who can no longer wrap their heads around the perverse dog ‘n’ pony show that has become every Presiden…scratch that, every camp….never mind, they really never, never stop campaigning, do they? Pretty goddamn sure that’s not the point of democracy, but it’s the sick, stupid world we live in and, yes, I blame Iowa and New Hampshire for all of this.

The actual point is, I read an article-view today with a guy who thinks the country is less polarized than its political class. And, as someone who believes this, I’m inclined to believe him. When people talk to me about getting rid of Citizens United and “getting money out of politics,” those don’t track as real solutions to me – and for more reasons than I want to get into here, because the articles I’m linking to are the star(s). To put it in (overly?) simplistic terms: no system will ever change until the people within it want it to change. If you’ve seen sign of any politician going that way, holy shit, do I want to borrow your glasses, because all I can see are people doubling down on a shitty bet, and then doubling down again. The Permanent Campaign is all we’ve got right now and it’s an embarrassment to, oh, everything.

And, in all honesty, I think that makes me part of the Silent Majority. I think there’s an entire country dying for elected officials do anything except keep campaigning. Dark days ahead and, holy shit, the nights that follow them look straight out of the Arctic winter.

Again, and as with everything, read the links. They're good. 

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