SLACKJAW by JIM KNIPFEL
January 22, 2012

Fickle Mush-Heads, Unite: You Have Nothing to Lose but Your . . . Well, Whatever

 

Although I don‘t exactly take politics “seriously,“ considering it little more than a blend of celebrity gossip and a plodding horse race between nags all wearing the same number, it does give me a chuckle now and then. Primary seasons especially are always good for a grim and hearty laugh at the expense of the rest of the nation. What a bunch of silly, desperate dancing monkeys the masses become at times like these.

       Three and a half years ago, then-candidate Obama was presented by his acolytes as a religious figure who had arrived on earth to save us all. While it was never stated quite that bluntly in the ads and the posters, the implication and the imagery were certainly there. The people swallowed it whole and elected him on the premise that he was, in reality, the second coming of Christ. I could understand why he had such a rabid following—and it wasn‘t just here. Not long after taking office he was given the Nobel peace prize because he‘d . . . umm . . . well, because he was Jesus Christ, I guess, and not another oafish buffoon with a bully sidekick.

        After a few months it started to become evident that maybe he wasn‘t Jesus after all, but just another political functionary like all the others. Recognizing this, the people didn‘t like him very much anymore. Some of the true believers held fast to the fading dream, convinced all wide-eyed and otherwise hopeless, that he really was Jesus, but was waiting for the right time to stroll across the Potomac.

        Most folks gave up on the notion though. It seems to happen every time.

        Here‘s another thing that happens every time. The masses elect, in this case, a Democrat. Things don‘t get better, and in fact they get a little worse. So the voters decide that all their hopes lie with the Republicans, who will turn things around. They elect a Republican. Things don‘t get better, in fact they get a little worse. So the voters decide that all their hopes really lie with the Democrats, who‘ll turn things around. They elect a Democrat. Things don‘t get better . . .

        It‘s like a slow pendulum or a Beckett play. Or better still, an example of a broken Hegelian dialectic—a dialectic hopelessly stuck in the void with no synthesis to move things forward. Just a thesis and antithesis switching places every few years for eternity, slipping a little each time. I‘ve been watching that fucker swing back and forth since Nixon, and still get a big kick out of it.

        All this comes to mind again after seeing a few minutes of one of the Republican debates. Five or six men standing politely in a row on the stage, reciting scripted answers to scripted questions, occasionally dropping in a scripted jibe, knowing it would make the news the next day. I couldn‘t fucking tell them apart—they looked the same, they sounded the same, they were all saying the same thing. I‘ve long felt that during primary season we should make the candidates wear Village People costumes so we could at least tell the Indian from the cop from the construction worker. Even if they were all still saying the same thing, at least they‘d have some identity. Plus it would be funny.

        What always leaves me feeling a bit gray and ashen inside after witnessing things like this debate is knowing each of these candidates is a candidate and was standing on that stage because nationwide each of them had hundreds of thousands of true believers behind them—people who waved signs and wore buttons because deep in their hearts these people honestly and truly believed that, oh, Mitt Romney, say, was the One True Hope for them and for millions of Americans.

        I mean look at these candidates (any candidate for any office, but especially this lot here). Would you even want to have lunch with these people, let alone let them run a country? Anyone who wants to hold public office is suspect in my book, but these freeze-dried, pre-programmed operatives are a notch beyond absurd.

        But there you go.

        Then, if the candidate of their choice drops out of the race, well, they just latch on to another. In an instant, he‘s the savior, he‘s the one who‘ll make everything better. Because lord knows they have to cling to something for godsakes—and this guy‘s on TV.

        What sad and desperate people their supporters must be. Maybe they don‘t have the blind fervor that Obama‘s disciples had last time around, but none of these candidates are being presented as religious icons. But even without that little bit of marketing fluffery, these people have followers. I just don‘t get it.

       Are our spirits that wasted and desolate? So bereft of anything real? So deeply tragic?

        Well, okay, that‘s a foolish question. I have no idea why I concern myself with these things, except that it is both funny and sad—again like a Beckett play. In Endgame, one of his characters says, “there‘s nothing funnier than unhappiness,“ and it‘s proven every four years, marching around in a straw hat, cardboard sign held high.

 

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