Friday, September 12, 2008
Helen Keller Watches The Matrix
So, this has been a very confusing week for me. I found myself in the camp of people who think McCain's post-Convention bounce would prove to be totally ephemeral, especially in the battleground states Obama's targeting, but then polls from New Mexico and elsewhere started to suggest that I've misapprehended this race entirely.
I still think that Palin mania has topped off. A whole bunch of people jumped onto the Republican ticket in the wake of the announcement, but at least some of them will get buyer's remorse before November 4th. Whatever enthusiasm she's generated can only go down from here. Although, let's be serious, it doesn't seem to be going down. And more to the point, in the last weeks, the Republicans have done exactly what we expected them to, and the Democrats have reacted in kind--that is, to say ineffectually. We may wring our hands and bang our heads, as the wretched lies in McCain's latest ads unfold, but how is it possible that in the last 20 years, the Democratic Party hasn't learned that a constructive majority of the country votes from the gut?
The other day I spoke to my dad, who is sitting thousands of miles away in a country so mismanaged it's in a massive energy crisis, in a country now ruled by a man who won office on name recognition alone, in a country held together by the weakest of threads. How Pakistan is like America is the subject of another post, I assure you. As I was saying, I spoke to my dad and he said he doesn't understand how Democrats became this way. JFK hustled his way into the White House. His knuckles bled blue after that election. Where is that party now? I had no answer for him, and couldn't explain to him why people here actually thought Obama was the heir to the Kennedy mantle.
I had two or three days of optimism, yes, but I came to realize this election is lost when I saw Obama on Keith Olbermann's show say, "The American people aren't stupid. They are going to get it." It's not just that he said it -- he meant it. But they -- that is to say, we -- are stupid. We are demonstrably and unabashedly stupid. We don't get how our leaders' environmental poilcies mean our descendants will have to conquer Mars for the species to continue. We don't get that fiscal policy isn't just for eggheads. 13% of us think Obama's a Muslim. Fully, 100% of us, apparently, think John McCain is a war hero because he didn't know how to fly his plane and got tortured for five and a half years as a result. And countless hordes of us will never, ever, ever vote for a black man.
Still, the hope-mongers insist that Obama is The Matrix. He is transformative, impossibly cool, burgeoning with ideas, a visceral and intellectual mindfuck. He will free us from the grime of our daily lives. But the American people are Helen Keller, deaf and blind to all that he may be.