Perhaps the most depressing part of this last campaign season is not the outcome, but the final confirmation of just how pointless political discourse really is. Maybe in the end it has value in the “throw enough pebbles in the river and it may change course” sense, but for all the fretting and strutting, all the incontrovertible evidence one way or another, the dial simply does not nudge for most people, not even myself.
As my friend says, “politics is religion”. Which is not to say it is aligned with religious values, which in some cases it is, but rather that political views are faith based rather than reality based. In other times we might have been forgiven, because evidence was unavailable or hard to come by, but today one only has to Google to find literal transcripts if not video. If you want to find how odious either candidate was, it’s not a case of needing to trust your friends or even the news. With a modicum of effort, you can find the original evidence, unfiltered. In that regards, both Hillary and Trump looked massively awful in incontrovertible ways. There is no need to trust the word of the apparatchiks, it was all there to find for yourself.
And, yet, on both sides there was a remarkable ability to whitewash their candidates to the point that many claimed literal innocence when again, it took no effort to see innocence and guilt imbibed in stone in uncut YouTube video, or emails, or in the words of the candidates own Twitter feeds. There should have been no room for ambivalence or question, and yet, many were able to convert their candidates from at best highly compromised, to complete messiahs, practically with halos above their heads.
I had no issue with anyone saying, “Yes, (s)he has issues, but it’s the least of the two evils,” (though as a liberal I find it harder to say the same about Trump, who literally advocated torture)(go see the fucking videos!). However, on both sides with amazing examples of self-delusion, partisans described all claims against their candidates as lies made up by the other side, even where some of those so called “lies” could come only from internal dissent. That’s not to say there weren’t lies and distortions on both sides, but again, the truth of much could be found carved in the stone of verifiable recorded evidence.
But we must have our messiahs. I know not why, other than our amazing ability to take one flaw and convert it into an indictment (a favorite of the “debate school” crowd in the comment sections of many blogs – make the tiniest error, even in spelling, and your whole argument is moot).
Perhaps the only positive thing about Trump is as much as we say we want humans, we really want infallible gods, messiahs as it were. The tiniest flaw can be gleaned onto, and thus we end up with candidates like Hillary where you can literally calculate the time between any responsive thought she has and the necessary politically correct filtering prior to it leaving her mouth. Trump broke that mold and for all of his horrible flaws, at least was human, albeit all too human (which brings to mind a statement of mine – “Hillary was inhuman, Trump is too human.”).
And yet, as I note above, those like Scott Adams and even family members of mine were able to make him more than he was (or less, depending on your view). But of course as I note, my side cannot claim innocence here – those like Amanda Marcotte were able to convert Hillary from a self-interested consummate compromised politician to a kindly grandmother with only our best interests at heart.
Am I better? Perhaps some in that I can at least see the problem, but my filters exist too, which is why I feel the hopelessness of it all. As much as we delude ourselves, we are not well thought out creatures of logic, but animals with enough computational logic strapped to our heads to make arguments that sound cogent, but are ultimately just reflections of our animal instincts and biases. We use our intellect not to actually find the truth, but to simply create what looks like the truth to try to convince others (usually failing because they are doing the exact same thing!).
If it were simply a game, a matter of entertainment like some TV series it would be ok, but the result is real failure and real suffering. We create great senses of meaning, but the outcome is ultimately the arbitrary combination of the pseudo-intellect and pseudo-logic we each spew coming together. Chaos theory, with real pain. It is enough to make me wonder that my Wiccan friend is right – that in some universe our true souls are perfect, but perfection is boring, and we have decided to subject ourselves to this “entertainment” of imperfection where there is pleasure, but also suffering, and in some twisted way we enjoy both. If so, all one has to do is watch the news to see we are created in those Gods’ images. As I say, “News is what happens to you, entertainment is what happens to others.”
I can only hope someday I am proven wrong about this, and when I am it doesn’t involve lakes of fire.