Reading Nancy Isenberg's White Trash is at once reassuring and dismaying, basically for the same reason -- we are not in unique times. Things have always been thus, or at least mostly. We were granted a relatively brief respite of about sixty years or so, roughly from our entrance into WW2 to 9/11, give or take.
Isenberg patiently and effectively busts the tired "godly puritans escaping oppression" myths we were all fed in school, and paints a more real, more lurid picture. London had a surplus population centuries before Dickens coined the phrase, and many of the early colonists were vagrants and vagabonds and other such undesirables, pressed into servitude and shipped across the ocean.
That these folks came from "mean (mostly as in 'average,' but also to some extent as in 'cruel') stock" was less of a factor in their generational fates than was the concerted effort by colonial masters -- merchants, politicians, builders, tradesmen -- to keep them down so as to ensure a steady supply of cheap, generally compliant laborers.
What shines through is how consistently the low-born cracker class, as a generalized demographic, are kept in their place with fairly modest efforts, mostly empty appeals to pride, religion, jingoism, racism, whatever. But those efforts worked, and continue to do so quite well.
So the ugliness of the campaign, the "winning" candidate, the sentiments that were appealed to, the tenor of the electorate, none of those are unprecedented. American history is littered with such examples of worse behavior than what we saw last year. That is strangely reassuring, to know that the nation as a whole has been able to get past such things in the past.
But it took a lot of blood and pain and time, and despite all that, the dipshit mentality still persists, and seems to be on the rise. The stupid is like mercury, it cannot be beaten or bred out of anyone, it spreads when you hit it, and it poisons what it touches. And it is getting on pretty much everything and everyone these days.
We already know that Clownstick and his crew are gaslighting America, but I'd take it the extra logical step and say that the media are gaslighting us as well, and in pretty much the same fashion. Clownstick demagogued the rubes with a lurid picture of bullshit, a flaming hellscape that only he could fix. Similarly, the media keep the twenty-four hour news cycle going by pushing the most sensationalized stories they can find. You would never know that the violent crime rate has been steadily declining for years, and is relatively low. And as mentioned above, as toxic as the 2016 campaign was, it was presented as an unprecedented, do-or-die cataclysm.
Most of us probably (hopefully!) never imagined a day where someone got into high office with the express assistance and collusion of a hostile foreign power -- and all the politicians and voters from that party were just fine with it. Such a thing seemed to be unthinkable a short time ago, but perhaps it had been lurking just below the surface the whole time, watching, waiting for the right moment to seize the opportunity.
Well, it's been seized, and too many people seem just fine with all that. Even though the truth of the matter is that, if those 80,000 rust-belt rubes not shown up and Butter Emails had squeaked in instead, those same folks would be swinging from the rafters over every jot and tittle. They would be seeing collusion in every crack in the pavement.
When enough people stop believing or caring about empirical facts and informed analysis, when enough of them seriously think that pulling some foolishness out of one's ass is just as valid as paying attention and strategizing accordingly, you are in deep trouble as a nation. The US has come a long way in a relatively short period of time, and it can slide back just as far just as quickly.
And we may very well be on that path after all. The sheer amount of toxic dumbfuckery in play right now, at the political, electoral, and cultural levels, cannot be offset or countered quickly. We have been focused on the foam at the crest of the wave, rather than the overall current and the tide direction.
The tide takes time to turn, but so far it has not shown any signs of abating or turning. Too many things seem to be a wink or a nod to the white-power crowd, people who we had hoped had essentially disenfranchised themselves by this point. But they found their champion in the sort of toxic narcissist who will jabber about "fake news" as a euphemism for "stuff I don't like," again bearing in mind too many of our fellow rubes no longer count "facts" or "information" as anything of any value at all.
Such a person, who does not want to do the hard work of leading but merely wants to be feted like an Egyptian god-king, is the ideal useful idiot to blithely toss dog-whistle rhetoric to the punters, perhaps even unknowingly. After all, they're just words on a teleprompter, which proved how stupid Obama and Hillary were, but apparently is acceptable now. Alrighty-then.
Honestly, it's a small wonder that he doesn't have a team of minions carry him around on a litter on these trips abroad. Maybe some chickens could be sacrificed to secure His favor. Whatever it takes to distract from the actual work of overseeing the (for now) world's largest economy and military.
But this current trip begs the classic question: How many Polacks does it take to wave a confederate flag? This will get bypassed in the torrent of news and nonsense, but it is an important symbol of something much greater than what we normally think of it as. Focusing on the traitor-slaver rag's history of pain and racism is necessary, but again focuses on the foam (the, erm, whitecaps) while ignoring the actual current.
Again, we are now a country where the average citizen knows more about some "real housewives" characters than they do about who represents them, and how well. Again, maybe we were always that country, and we're just now realizing it. Technology has amplified the voices of outraged ignoramuses, along with all the other wondrous things that are provided. Those morons are emboldened by that amplification, and we are seeing the consequences.
Starting to see the consequences. Hope you're in it for the long haul, because it is about to get weirder. I stand by my earlier prognostications that the stupidity and arrogance of the current administration will prevent them from doing as much damage as they'd like. But they will do some damage, and more importantly, containing the symptom doesn't necessarily affect the disease.
When facts are what you want them to be, and reality is what you tell yourself it is, new and interesting possibilities open up for you. Flags and symbols that have been universally recognized for generations now mean just what you say they mean, neither more nor less. You can tweet a doctored photo of your hero throwing a kill-switch on his political opponent in a gas chamber, and have your kindred chastise the majority for not getting what was clearly a high-larry-us joke.
You no longer have to familiarize yourself with the source documentation of your own country, because you stopped reading a long time ago, and besides, reading books is for fags. So it makes sense that you might interpret the Declaration of Independence as a call to insurrection, and get all indignant when someone mentions it, even when they've been mentioning it every year at this time since the late '80s.
The beauty of being this type of complete fucking retard is that everything means exactly what you want it to mean, what you need it to mean -- words, deeds, people, flags, symbols, documents.
Obviously, it's a very short putter on your mobility scooter to arrive at the conclusion that if you studiously avoid knowing or learning anything of value, you can simply declare unilaterally that everything means exactly what you want it to mean, neither more nor less.
Fuckface Von Clownstick's supporters made that decision many moons ago, well before FVC decided to run. It just happens that he is the perfect empty vessel for their nonsense -- or any nonsense, really, as long as the check clears, he'll say whatever you want him to say on any given day.
But the potentially dangerous conclusion that we all need to understand is that these rubes, through their refusal to learn or experience anything new, or question their idiot dogma, believe that the country is what they say it is. That's how you get an anonymous Polack waving the traitor-slaver flag at a rally in Warsaw in 2017. The contents of the speech given at that rally hammer that whole idea home -- the country is what we say it is, and we're not letting you libtards take it away.
And this is how we end up with utter mediocrities and total fuckups in extremely important positions. I am not kidding, and this is not snark -- as I have mentioned before, Clownstick is the sort of person you would never work for or with, nor would you hire him for anything more complicated than moving rocks from one end of the property to the other. And even then you'd have to keep an eye on him.
His children are no better. One is a dyed-in-the-wool brander like Himself, pushing her knock-off handbags and glad-rags. One rides the charity grift racket, throwing epic fundraisers at dad's golf courses, then acting all surprised when dad charges roughly what the fundraiser took in. And Uday "runs the business" more or less like dad always did -- seat of the pants, skin of the teeth, fart of the squeal, whatever. Jesus H. Tapdancing Christ. Seriously, is there one (1) serious person out there who would really work for this fucking guy?
Well, the same goes for most of the people he's selected to "run" the gubmint. They're all hacks and dipshits and money-grubbing assholes. It should be unthinkable that a spoiled princess like Betsy DeVos, who has spent her adult life trying to buy and marry her way into influence, should be picked to run the American public educational system into the ground by making it into another goddamned profit center.
I'm out of solutions on this one. It's hard to force someone (or millions of someones) to not be a moron or an asshole. But we have collectively engendered this type of stupidity, simply by not squashing it.
That should be the real takeaway here: beyond the insult-comic jabber, the alt-right fascist trolls, the skeevy grifter con-man mentality of these people, what really shines through is how mediocre they really are. All of them -- Himself, the kids, the thieves and poltroons in the cabinet -- these are people who are literally unemployable in the real world, and they literally know nothing besides how to fill their pockets. This needs to be pointed out at every possible opportunity, every bit as much as the Russia stuff.