Monday, January 01, 2018

Resolution / Le Déluge

When you take a moment to consider the mundane and rather arbitrary reasons we start the new calendar on January 1st, the idea of a "fresh start" to things seems more symbolic than anything. But we are conditioned to see it that way nonetheless, because more than anything, humans are good at adapting to circumstances, which means we search for and find ways to adjust and improve. The holiday break (assuming you get one) and the rolling over of the annual odometer present opportunities to make those adjustments with fresh resolve.

Whether you believe in them or not, whether you follow through with them or not, every resolution is intended to commit you to change, improve, overcome. I like the idea of making resolutions, though I rarely have the discipline to follow through completely with them.

Here is an idea for a new year resolution we should all be able to agree on -- yes, even your Clownstick-loving meathead uncle who ruined Thanksgiving with his latest drunken tirade:  Expect more -- from your political leaders, from your corporate insect overlords and the media appendages they operate, from the individuals who are content to sell you a shoddy product. In fact, expecting more is underselling the idea. Demand more and better; insist on more and better.

If you own an iPhone and are looking forward to next costly iteration because you've been hopelessly branded, take a moment and tell the cult that you're not ponying up for any more of their bullshit until they stop hiding billions of profit dollars in Ireland. Why should you pay your fucking taxes, only so that the people who can afford it most pay the least, every goddamned year?

If you subscribe to the Post or the Times, take a second and let them know that you are done with their Cletus safaris, and that the next one will be the last straw for you -- you won't even give them the click for the article, just a click to unsubscribe from their endless bullshit.

And if you consider yourself a "liberal" or a "Democrat" or simply aligned against the swirling void currently taking the country toward a Thelma & Louise ending, you need to demand more from your own politicians, the people you plan on voting for later this year (and probably for the rest of your life) to have any hope of avoiding that T&L fate. Because while there are some notable exceptions, as a collective political entity, the Democratic Party has been surprisingly ineffective at conveying some sort of plausible alternative to Bone Spurs McHairpiece's Willy Wonka-esque scheme to skull-fuck every American with a net worth of less than $1M, while pretending to give them all ponies and sunshine.

This should not be that difficult; these assholes are nothing if not brazenly upfront about how stupid and arrogant they really are. It should be a simple matter to come up with a few handy loglines that convey a better, brighter message, and a few friendly, effective, new faces to repeat those loglines until it replaces the maga crap they've had barfed in their laps for two years.

The problem is that the Democratic Party -- again, as an organizational entity -- is deeply committed not only to upholding the status quo, but returning to it. They would like nothing better than to go back to the good old days of mid-2015, before the oompa-loompa descended down his ridiculous fool's-gold escalator and started ranting about Meskins.

And I'm sorry, friends 'n' neighbors, but there is no going back directly to that. Too much has transpired; too many "norms" and "rules" we all took for granted have been traduced, perhaps irretrievably. If the Democrats think they can field a status ante candidate who will bring a spork to the Clownstick tommy-gun fight and win, they are on some industrial-strength glue. If they think that winning back the fentanyl 'n' jebus addled Cletus vote is the path to a comeback, they are as stupid as their mortal enemies think they are.

I remember the day after the 2016 election, going into work, trying to focus on the business of the day -- which given the nature of what I do, has a certain degree of daily unpredictability baked into it. I recall the weird buzz in the air, a nervous energy. You might assume the cliché of social services workers, but you would be very wrong. There's a diverse cross-section of folks throughout -- liberal, moderate, deeply conservative. I couldn't tell you the precise ratio of each, but I would bet decent money that it is highly correlative to the general population, or maybe a touch more conservative, counterintuitively.

But I recall going into the office that morning, seeing the glum stare of one of my office mates -- pretty much identical to me demographically, middle-aged married white male with a college degree, and knowing that we were both (like many other people in the building) disconsolate about what seemed to be an incomprehensible result, a supposed slam-dunk that somehow bounced back out from the hoop without going through.

After some early-morning pre-caffeinated niceties, I basically riffed something that I think is at the core of that election, more so than most others at the national level:  either the country got turned into something that we no longer recognize, or it was like this all along, and we just didn't realize it.

This is still true, you know. All the same people are still out there, waiting for the next round. On either side, some will be spurred into action again, or for the first time, or demoralized into heading back for the couch. The good news is that it can cut the other way. The pendulum swings, always, inexorably. It seems to be swinging more and more quickly the last few cycles.

So we all have to decide what we want from these entities, and then demand it. One without the other is just a bunch of [mimes jerkoff motion]. I think there's a decent chance that Clownstick does not make it through his first term, or that he is at least supplanted by a Democratic challenger in 2020; however, either scenario will be for naught if the Democrats persist in going back to what was, instead of understanding what is.

A (reasonably) healthy body politic needs at least two functioning parties. Right now, we don't have even one. The Democrats try, god bless 'em, and poll after poll indicates that their central ideas are in sync with the sentiments of a clear majority of the populace. Yet they fail, again and again, in successfully conveying that alignment of ideas to the electorate. And instead of heading out and talking to the people who would vote for them about the things that would motivate them to vote, they shovel money to some Beltway hacks that run SWOT analyses for each other and never leave their offices to find out what actual people think.

The worst thing about that dynamic is that, every time the "strategy" fails, the Democrats invariably decide that it failed because they didn't execute it well enough. It never occurs to them that genuflecting to idiots who despise them and will never vote for them is a bad strategy to begin with. They could take the cash they're shoveling to rodents like Mark Penn and use it to get voters registered and motivated, and actually win. Imagine that.

No, seriously, you're going to have to imagine that for yourself, because the Democratic Party and its geriatric leaders and organizations are apparently incapable of imagining it for themselves. All you have to do is take a look at the recent special elections in Virginia and Alabama, and who turned out to push those elections to the Democrats, and then how Ralph Northam and Doug Jones are already soft-shoeing the idea that a change took place and is necessary. Way to dance with them that brung ya, guys.

Now, the Republican Party has lost its collective mind, and its strategy has been to motivate the most deeply stupid and insane contingents of the electorate. But hey, it works. Again, don't ever kid yourself about who's really out there in this country. Most people are more or less decent, but there's a broad spectrum of attitudes and actions in play there. And some people are just bastards at heart, period.

The solution is not to reach out to the bastards and make it palatable somehow to jump off their burning ship. Let them go under, or they'll learn to swim. You cannot simultaneously believe in the ineffable truth of evolution -- survival of the fittest and most adaptable -- and keep expending valuable effort in trying to prop up jabbering idiots and closet racists, people who would die off if nature were allowed to take its proper course.

Anyway, the real point (and I do have one) is that, if we take it as a given that the predicted "blue tsunami" comes through this year in the midterms, the Democratic Party needs to understand the urgent need to adapt as well.

Fuckface Von Clownstick may be the most transparent grifter in most of our lifetimes (though Don King, Pat Robertson, and Newt Gingrich certainly give him a waddle for someone else's money), but he was right about at least one thing -- the "economic recovery" from the worst recession in eighty years did not benefit most Americans, and things did indeed need to be shaken up (just not by a rabid chimp). At best, the recovery brought some people back up to where they were before the shit-storm hit and the bankers took what was theirs. But just as many never recovered at all. We can rightly sneer at the cheap mediot excuse of "economic anxiety," but death by despair is a real thing.

The fact of the matter is that we have a lot of elaborate mechanical systems of financialization whose sole function is to ensure that rich people get richer and everyone else stays right where they're at -- if they're lucky. Ideally, there would be a political party that worked directly against those nefarious efforts, and if my aunt had balls, she'd be my uncle. The fact is that no such party will coalesce or act, unless there is a movement to compel such a set of actions.

That's where you and me and everyone else, and our resolution, come into play. This is not about you going to the gym a few days a week for the rest of January, then one or two days a week next month, and by the end of March you're merely intending to go. This is really about what the rest of our lives will be like, and what our kids' and grandkids' lives will be like, if we accept our collective lot to scramble for their fucking crumbs in perpetual indentured servitude, or if we decide to fight back, with our votes and our wallets.

Tumbrels and guillotines would be great, and I am all for that, but the fact is that change can occur without anyone getting physically harmed in the least. All that is needed is for everyone to pay attention, and to step up and act where they can and must. But to do that, there needs to be a sense of urgency (resolve) imparted to politicians and decision-makers that a new course of action is necessary, that a return to before and a sigh of relief won't cut it.

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