So I wake up and get juiced on the caffeine and watch this video of some bald fella explaining why everybody hates Trump and it gets me to thinking……
There’s some saying about living your life as if you’re the hero in the novel of your own making. Then it starts making sense how and why political rhetoric is so incredibly popular and effective (in part if not mostly or even entirely) by essentially doing that for us (hijacking our own narrative, making it easier on us than writing our story for ourselves). Now it’s creative writing 101 that every story needs a pro- and antagonist, right. And the kicker is how all the rhetoric helps us formulate to ourselves our own heroic virtue by comparison to somebody else. me and my side the heroes for thinking and feeling and behaving the way we do. the other side villains for the having vastly dissimilar values. It’s an easy way of somebody else setting you up as the protagonist which is all so easily reinforced in the echo chambers we spend our time in. That’s essentially what’s happened with Trump and what the other side was so effective in doing with Obama and Hillary, creating that hero/villain narrative based on the fragile egos and laziness of the constituents of their tribes. But it’s never a novel of an individual’s own making (cause that takes effort and some smarts and discipline), it’s a narrative laid out by the sophists and professional rhetoricians who set Trump or Obama or libs or conservatives up as the villains and their opposing heroes. And they do it as well as anybody writing a Hollywood screenplay does – with Trump or Hillary being the figurehead embodying all of society’s villainy – Dr. Doom opposing the Fantastic Four hero tribe. And the more you react against your tribe’s nemesis (especially on Twitter or Reddit or YouTube comments), the more you get to virtue signal to yourself (convince yourself) and others how just and heroic and virtuous you are. Similar to how a Christian might convince himself of his love for Christ, in part, by how much he detests Satan. Part of your love of God (your own virtue, really) is in how you react to what opposes him. Perhaps strength of conviction in anything requires a nemesis. A counter principle or philosophy or set of values. Similarly, the more you fret and fuss and whine and Tweet about the other side, is proof of your dedication to the better cause. And it’s not purely an anti-Trump phenomenon. I still get Facebook post from people still shitting the bed over Obama and Hillary well after those ships have sailed. But that’s a testament, I suppose, to just how robust and tasty these posters’ indignation was. They still savor it, going back months and months afterward, hoping for another sip or the discover of some overlook crumbs of pretentious, feigned indignation. But it probably feels good going around with a made up nemesis. And ya might think how bout doing something productive instead just slinging shit at the other side. But if you or somebody else can convince you they’re enough of a terror, then that shit slinging seems like efficient effort. See, you gotta see the kitty cat next door as a real monster to justify all the hours practicing swordsmanship for the day it attacks.
One time I found a several years expired box of Kraft mac ‘n cheese in the cupboard. And I imagine being lazy and cheap I didn’t wanna waste it so I went on ahead and cooked it. By then (and, in truth, probably well before then) that pack of powdered cheese, though sealed in the baggie, had lost it’s flavor. Not lost exactly but it had altered and I don’t mean to just bein’ bland, it had turned to something almost offensive, retaining just enough cheesy zing to remind and taunt me over what it used to be. Taunted me over the processed creamy goodness of what once was but was no longer. And the reason I’d gone for that box was cause there was nothing else in the cupboards. And when you’re starving enough to go for that long expired box, and it taunts ya on top of your hunger, then you really hate IT. I really hated it. I hated it and it’s taunting ways – its taunting me in my hunger and misery. I hated it but not myself for having been too goddamned lazy to go to the store on Friday. Hated it instead of hating myself for getting too goddamned wrapped up in some caffeine fueled Craigslist rant instead of going to Kroger for a frozen pizza or some pitta bread and hummus. There seems to be a lot of delight in having a moral whipping boy when you’re confused or stupid or regretful or scared or hungry, whether that whipping boy’s Trump or Hillary or Obama or libs or conservatives or SJW’s or Wall Street or an expired box of macaroni and cheese.
THen I get to thinkin’ how Trump or Hillary are like buffets representing the cumulative foundational beliefs in their ideologies like the appetizers and entrees and all the shit on the salad bar (cottage cheese, beets, pineapple fluff, etc.).
Some loudmouthed talking-head cocksucker knows I prefer cottage cheese and deviled eggs to Hillary’s salad bar of antipasto salad and a bowl of mixed greens, including kale. If I’m some ghetto rat or some skilless, jobless blue collar loser or some unfuckable, screaming ideologue that imagines he/she oughta be desirable for fucking or mating based on his/her pure existence alone, it’ll feel good to be told the other side are just a bunch of unsophisticated slobs with their cottage cheese and deviled eggs. Or, conversely, snobbish pricks for liking kale salad. Or lazy pigs and slobs for not wiping up their French dressing. And if the salad bar don’t suffice to bolster enough of your ego, you can always move on to the desserts (guns) and the entrees (social justice warriors and political correctness) with the differences being mostly crab legs versus fried chicken. But either way, it’s tasty all round. (throw in Bernie’s socialism as liver and onions and Gary Johnson’s libertarianism as prime rib too, if you like). And then the real sophisto (charlatan) comes out the woodwork claiming, “I aint’ no right-wing shill. I like me a taste of kale every now and then too. That’s just how goddamned level headed I am.”
Somebody called me out recently for referring to one of these ideological shit slingers as a snake oil salesman. According to my critic, my rhetoric was only proof of my opposing ideological thinking. But my criticism, I felt, was a bit more nuanced than that. It wasn’t a criticism of the shit slinger’s underlying beliefs, it was criticism of what’s done with those beliefs. Not taking them and engaging in nuanced or productive debate against an opposing set of beliefs. But taking those beliefs – like Silly Putty that can be formed into Mickey Mouse or a dildo – working his sophistic magic on it – to create that good tribe versus bad tribe narrative. And yes, I admit to the hypocrisy of the “snake oil salesman” reference while bemoaning a lack of civil political discourse. And I acknowledge what runs through this discourse implicitly as well – the smug, arrogant, narcissistic, whatever……notion of the independent as hero.
Now the ideologues of both side are gonna wanna justify themselves with principles and say that I must be arguing against the principle of standing up for your principles. Or arguing that valid or valuable principles don’t exist. But I’d say it’s a bit more nuanced than that, sorta like the snake oil salesman thing. I’d say the stronger you hold an ideology, the more likely your thinking and feeling’s governed by the narrative of us versus them than the ideology’s underlying principles. And you can split hairs about which side has better principles but when a stew’s constituted of foot paste (ideology) I suggest it doesn’t so much matter who used more toe jam in the stew (ratio or proportion isn’t the point to argue) or whether the toe chunks float around with the carrots and hunks of taters or if the toe jam was puréed into the roux. At the end of the day, it’s still a toe jelly stew.