Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Character of a Nation

My last post warrants further elaboration and I will provide that in the near future. I obviously would not have put the entry on this website if I did not intend to discuss it.

In the spirit of the historic election concluded one night ago, however, I felt that a reflection on the current political and cultural climate of our nation was in order. I am relaying that critique from my unique perspective as a political journalist.

I was hired about two weeks ago to provide freelance news content of a political nature to a website operating out of the Goldlands. My third assignment was to head over to Rich Town on Tuesday afternoon and interview voters and poll workers, gauging their motivations and policy preferences.

What I found profoundly sickened me.

In my professional capacity I could never voice aloud the strong political views I hold, nor could I make known my opinion of those masses who yesterday evening headed to the ballot box and gave control of the House of Representatives to the GOP.

Here, however, I am free to speak my mind, and I will.

I am disgusted.

I am nauseated by the puerility, simple-mindedness, self-righteousness, and sheer unabated ignorance that seem to be the defining characteristics of a majority of American citizens.

I spoke last night with ten different people, three of them Democrats and seven Republicans, and expected at worst to hear from the conservatives a diatribe of ideological dogma whose tenets I disagreed with.

As it turns out, I'd given the people a bit too much credit.

Among the politicians, among the elected officials, there is certainly a binding set of ideals. Half of the Tea Party candidates may not be able to string together a coherent sentence expressing their policy positions, but the national Republican leaders are at least able to weave plausible-sounding lies as they grin at the unbelievable scam the American electorate is letting them pull.

Among the voters themselves, though, the rank and file who were the impetus of yesterday's wave, there is no such thing as ideology. There is no such thing as policy. There is just a vaguely-defined fear of "freedom" being taken away, a longing for a past that never existed, and an anger for its own sake that stubbornly disregards the tremendous benefits conferred on the country by many Democratic measures.

Of the seven different Republicans I spoke with, not one (with the single exception of a town councilman) could name for me an actual, factually-based issue that had roused their concern. Several claimed that the healthcare bill, which is almost exclusively an insurance-regulation law, created socialized medicine, and one young man seemed certain that President Obama had repealed the federal ban on partial-birth abortion, but of course neither of these things is true.

The reasons for their discontent, and thus for inaugurating a major political power shift in our country, never went beyond misconceptions, outright lies, and thinly-veiled racism.

Some of their statements were so outrageous that my editor would not print them. Here are some of the gems that never made it to the Web:

* "This is just the way we were raised, and in order to remain free it's important that we stay true to that."

* "I'm concerned about freedom of speech. There's been talk of trying to shut down people who have this belief in our country, this belief in freedom of speech." [The speaker was referring to Fox News pundit Glen Beck, who has evidently been the target of political persecution]

* "I haven't been given any kind of feeling that [President Obama] is a Christian at all. I don't think he is."

* "The government is looking to a certain type of religion and wants to make it the religion of government. There is an effort to incorporate that into the Constitution, and that would diminish our freedom."

* "The current administration is trying to point our country toward Marxism and a one-world order, step by step."

* "President Obama wants to impose Islam on America. If he had the chance I believe he would." [The fact that the President has failed to act thus far on his religious convictions despite spending the last two years as Chief Magistrate with a majority in the House of Representatives and a supermajority in the Senate did not strike the voter as strange]

* "I don't know anything about [the Democratic nominee for Congress]."

* "The Democrats are all for letting people run over our borders, because they think those people will vote for them." [The Latin horde will presumably be unhindered in its electoral takeover of the U.S. by the constitutional requirement that voters be citizens]

* "Nancy Pelosi--I can't put my finger on it, but she just makes my toes curl. Obama, too."

* "As a person who doesn't have healthcare, I always applaud efforts to get me healthcare." [A Republican voter, explaining why he is opposed to "big government" but conflicted over the healthcare bill]

This is not out in the blighted countryside. This is in a well-educated, prosperous suburb, in one of the wealthiest regions of the United States.

If the contagion of idiocy and fanaticism has spread even here, to this land of professionals and college graduates, then what must it be like elsewhere?

I don't know what to do or think.

I do know, however, that this country's voters have once again proven themselves to be imbecilic children with nothing to say and nothing to offer.


Jeannie said...

I don't have a clue about politics. I do not look into the issues. I am not even in your country. However, if you watch tv, or listen to other people, you get a very skewed idea of what's going on. Many people think this skewed view is the reality. It isn't. But there really is no where to go to get the actual truth because official party information is propaganda. So, depending on which brand of paranoia you adhere to - and advertisers want you always uncomfortable and afraid so you will buy crap to feel better so we are programmed to fear - you will fill in gaps in knowledge with some conspiracy theory and a reason to fear the other side. "They" are always out to get us.

laura b. said...

I continue to be astonished by people's baseless fears and complaints and the reactionary decisions those fears lead to.

Kevin Musgrove said...

I'm astonished and disheartened by the unfocussed anger and quite venomous drivel that some of these people are expressing. It will be no consolation to you that we're only marginally better (and much less well-organised) on this side of the pond.

Aunt Snow said...

vaguely-defined fear of "freedom" being taken away, a longing for a past that never existed, and an anger for its own sake that stubbornly disregards the tremendous benefits conferred on the country

Yes, this is depressing and disturbing. Amazing to think that the stimulus bill included the LARGEST TAX CUT FOR INDIVIDUALS IN THE HISTORY OF THE US, yet people still believe that Obama raised their taxes.

Amélie said...

Ah, this all reminds me so much of my nations and nationalism course. All this sentimentality and nostalgia for the past is nothing but symptoms of the successful embedding of nationalistic symbols and ideals in a company. Gotta get republicans credit for being so damn good at preying on people's fears and manipulating their (at times simple) minds with nothing but mere psychological methodology.

Amélie said...

and by company I meant country. Too much business studies for me :P

Madame DeFarge said...

Kevin is right. We're not that much better over here. But most people are stupid when it comes to political opinion. They simply act on gut instincts and they are rarely reliable.

Gauss Jordan said...

Consider the intelligence of the average American. By definition, half of them must be less intelligent than that.*

* Assuming a Gaussian distribution, of course. ;-)