Friday, 11 November 2016

Thoughts On Waking Vol. III (Oh, shiiiiiit)

I recently saw a Daily Mash article that was about hangovers being a full-on existential crisis for anyone over the age of 35.  I can relate.
How come the worst political news coincides with a hangover for me?  I don’t know – it’s not like I’ve got any control over that, is it?  If you there’s anything I can do to avoid a hangover, I’d like to hear it!
Anyway, my most recent political nightmare hangover occurred on Wednesday, 9th of November 2016.  Here were some initial thoughts upon waking/shaking/forcing myself into recognition of cold, hard, ugly facts, in the form of headlines for newspaper articles I will never write:
Four horsemen approaching as trumpets sound
Reality TV contest ends with surprising result
Hilarious candidate no longer funny
Dear white people, you have ruined everything. Again.
George W Bush not ridiculous enough for US voters
US children already asking “But Mommy, why didn’t someone stop him?”
“Things have to get worse before they get better” revolutionaries heartened
Right-wing populist peddling easy answers still a news story
Greedy corporate billionaire defeats corporate greed
Anti-intellectualism still a big vote winner
Tired of flipping a coin, US voters decide to roll the dice…
White male billionaire rails against the establishment; working class white people inexplicably take it seriously
Most divisive candidate ever calls for unity
US voters so sick of democratic process they elect anti-democratic demagogue
Sloppy data protection worse than sexual assault, misogyny, racism, narcissism, authoritarianism and stupid hair, say US voters
Patently ridiculous man gets job ahead of well-qualified woman
“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you. Then you win.” Gandhi
Much like Brexit: Not all Trump voters are racist, but all racists are Trump voters
US TV networks hiring satirists at highest ever levels
Words “establishment” and “elite” have lost all meaning, say linguists
Inarticulate buffoonery a big vote winner
Crazy, racist promises prove a big vote winner
Two-party system completely inadequate for complicated world
Weak populist at danger from right wing supporters
Political class trumped by economic management class
“But she was just as bad” the new “I’m not racist, but…”, say experts
30 years of neoliberal consensus not in interests of working class
Campaigners for honest politics stunned into silence
Political subservience to big business reaches zenith with election of billionaire president
America expected to just drink through this awful hangover
Safe pair of hands loses to tiny, dangerous hands
Lowest common denominator still a safe bet
Human progress not a straight line to a goal, everyone realises
Non-USians still apparently qualified to comment on US election at length
Country traditionally impervious to outsiders’ criticism again subjected to outsiders’ criticism
US Election: Everyone lines up to hear what foreign blogger thinks
Hey, America….take care, yeah?  Take care.
Political ranting “already passe”, say fashionistas
After gentle challenges to neoliberal consensus (“globalisation”) from the left have been exhausted, we’re left with challenges from the right. 
And, here are some subsequent thoughts, in the form of facebook posts I will never write:
So, here’s my take on the US election – because, obviously, everyone wants to know what I think about it all.  Especially people now fearing for their safety in an era of heightened tensions and out-spoken bigotry.  Surely they want to know what facebook thinks, right?
People are saying…..and I would never say this:
Dear America,
What the fuck is up with white people?
Are you so scared of everybody that you just gone wave your guns and start shooting?!
Check yourself.
I would never say it – but people are saying it.  But I would never say it…but other people have said it.  But I don’t say it.  I didn’t say it.
Whatever the specific conditions that precipitate The End of Western Civilisation (and they cannot be far away), we can be sure it is richly deserved.
The Democratic Party leadership were able to stage manage the selection of their Presidential candidate, despite a strong (and surprising) challenge from the left – and the effects of their management look disastrous.
The Republican Party leadership were unable to stage manage the selection of their Presidential candidate, after a strong (and surprising) challenge from leftfield – and the effects of their lack of management look disastrous.
This is a disaster – but it’s not “America”.  “America” is two continents, billions of people, many varied countries, cultures, languages…it’s not even the USA – a country of hundreds of millions of people and far more diversity than is regularly recognised from outside.  It’s not even the US Electorate – it’s not even a majority of the people that voted…it’s a little under half the people that voted who have caused this.  Let’s remember that before we start talking about Dumbfuckistan and other thoughtlessly insulting shite.  Please.  It’s really really important not to get into careless dismissal of large numbers of people we don’t know or understand – because that kind of ignorance is one of the things that got us into this mess.
It’s like that scene in Goodfellas, you know the one, where Tommy is haranguing Spider, the kid that serves them drinks – and Spider tells him to go fuck himself, and Jimmy says “What, are you gonna let this little punk get away with that?!  What’s the world coming to?”  And Tommy shoots Spider and kills him and then he says “That’s what the fucking world is coming to, how do you like that?”  And Jimmy says “What’s the matter with you?  I’m playing around with you, and you shoot the guy?”  And Tommy says “I don’t know if you’re joking, there’s a lot of people here” And Jimmy says “You’re gonna dig the hole” And Tommy says “OK, so he got shot – is it a big fucking deal?  What is it, the first hole I dug?  I don’t give a fuck.”
Well, the US electorate is Tommy, obviously.  (The news media is Jimmy, equally obviously.)
In the 90s, election reporting described the US as bitterly divided. As Matt Taibbi in his book Spanking The Donkey, about the 2004 election pointed out:  “when half the country doesn’t vote, the nation is not bitterly divided.  The nation mostly doesn’t give a shit.”
A lot of people in the UK and US have long been wishing for more political engagement, but may now be more careful for what they wish….engagement with politics without good information is dangerous.  Engagement with politics based on anger over loss, fear of outsiders and a search for scapegoats is very dangerous.
Maybe the candidate who threatened the power of big business hit upon an un-tapped well of interest – one that no recent presidential candidate has dared go near – won some votes off that – however implausible it is that a billionaire will deliver poor people from the ravages of international trade…maybe that was at least as compelling a reason as all the racist stuff.  Maybe the neoliberal orthodoxy is actually being challenged in a meaningful way – even if the person doing it is a total charlatan.  Just maybe.  It might be the start of an explanation for what, to many of us, at first glance, seems like an act of criminal insanity.
Why are we even talking about this?  Those of us who know fuck all about US politics, or the country in general?  The worry is that it will affect all of us, and in potentially negative ways.  So, that’s why we’re all talking about it.  In case you’re wondering.  After such a long, drawn-out affront to humanity that has been the campaign, it’s totally understandable that people are thoroughly sick of it all and want to not hear any more about it.  All of the above is secondary to this: My US family and friends, hold tight, we’re with you.  Love & Peace.

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