The News: Read it and Weep
We’re still in the Halloween hangover, and my media stream and TV selections are filled with books and movies in that genre, some of which, like A.C. Wise's Hooked, I love.
But the truth is, these days, reality is far more terrifying.
Item: “More than half of all Republican midterm candidates running for federal and statewide office have raised unfounded doubts about the validity or integrity of the 2020 election results, and according to CBS News' analysis, all of the states but two — Rhode Island and North Dakota — have a candidate on the ballot who is an election denier." CBS News
I wrote last week about how religious practice, and the political veneration of religious practice, trains us to accept delusion early in life. The Big Lie is the logical consequence. Republicans now approach elections with a “heads-I-win-tails-you-lose” mentality that is impossible to square with our democracy.
Item: “In the final days of the campaign, Republicans across the country are sharpening a message focused on what they dub ‘parental rights,’ portraying Democrats as out of touch with what’s happening in the nation’s schools and warning of a dystopian future — pornographic books in school libraries, liberal brainwashing in classrooms, and scant parental involvement — should Democrats win Tuesday’s midterm elections.” The Washington Post
Lies beget lies. Labeling science, history, or literature as "brainwashing" would not be possible without a credulous public. Saying it makes it true, whether you’re talking about critical race theory or litter boxes in classrooms. Whatever they feel should be true is the truth. This is the intellectual foundation for a theocracy, not a democracy. Every factless movement brings us one step closer to The Handmaid’s Tale.
Item: “A new poll from The Washington Post and ABC finds that nearly nine in ten Americans are worried about an increased danger of politically motivated violence. Election officials in Michigan [where an attempt to kidnap the governor was thwarted] are especially worried as the midterms approach and multiple election deniers are on the ballot.” PBS News Hour
Gone are the days when things like the Big Lie would get you laughed off the ballot and declared mentally unfit for office. One of our major political parties and their media lapdogs push it daily. It’s no wonder people are worried about violence.
Except for the outer edges of the political spectrum (on which my political views belong), American political discourse during my lifetime has mostly been about how best to advance our shared values. For example, we all wanted to lift people out of poverty. Some wanted the government to be part of the solution, while some thought government was the problem. But in principle, we all agreed that poverty was bad for Americans.
Today, we live in an America where tens of millions of people believe that poverty is a judgment. Poverty is a consequence, either of godlessness or lack of character.
We used to agree that advancing knowledge was a good thing. Scientific breakthroughs were celebrated by everyone. We all cheered the moon landing, even those who opposed NASA's budget. Now millions believe it was a hoax.
Tens of millions think of science as apostacy, a threat to our culture, another part of the deep state conspiracy.
Tens of millions believe that our lives are controlled by a hidden cabal and that certain billionaires will save us from it. (!)
We cannot unite for a common goal if we don’t have any common goals, and at this point, keeping our democracy intact is not a common goal. The people who campaign the most strenuously for the destruction of our democratic institutions are the ones calling themselves “patriots,” while those seeking to maintain them are resisters.
As Dr. Seuss said, “And this mess is so big and so deep and so tall, we cannot pick it up. There is no way at all!”
Don’t worry, though. The Christmas sales are already beginning. That means we can leave horror behind….