Saturday, October 6, 2012

Chapter 89: In Which I Discuss the Lies We Tell Ourselves

I watched the debates. I am currently a rhetoric and composition teacher, and assigned my students to analyze this farce, so I had to watch, too. Favorite part: Romney telling Jim Lehrer to his face that he would be out of a job should he become president. Then he proceeds to make the same threat on Big Bird, effectively sending Jim Lehrer and and the Sesame Street Workshop to the unemployment line, and it's only a half hour into the debate. Ah yes, the Republicans' age-old war against PBS. Lehrer was not a good moderator, but I can see how he'd be flummoxed by holding in his desire to punch this smirker in the jaw.

Other than that, the same talking points as ever. Drilling for oil, destroying reserves, giving more benefits to more billion-dollar energy companies. More hot air, as always. I look at those two men and see nothing.

Biggest disappointment: Obama did not bring up the 47 percent remark. For me, that was the most telling and honest moment of this election. So of course it was something not meant to be filmed. Romney himself came out with what would have been his response the other day, after Obama's failure to capitalize.

"Well, clearly in a campaign, with hundreds if not thousands of speeches and question-and-answer sessions, now and then you're going to say something that doesn't come out right. In this case, I said something that's just completely wrong."

"Well, clearly in a campaign, with hundreds if not thousands of speeches and question-and-answer sessions, now and then you're going to say something that doesn't come out right," Romney said. "In this case, I said something that's just completely wrong."

So this guy who wants to be president finds out in the home stretch of the campaign that many people who don't pay income tax are seniors and people who are just flat-out poor. Not the welfare queens trading food stamps for 40s while their eight kids play in the dirt. Well, I'm glad he learned something. Makes him a more well-rounded guy.

But deep down, he believes what he believes.

Over the summer I taught high school level ESL. These were rich kids, the kind whose parents could afford to send them across the world to a summer camp.  The most interesting part was seeing the gamut of privilege awareness. On one side you had those who were aware of the social constructs and systems of oppression their lives were built on, and on the other side you had those who were entirely self-entitled. Then you had a range in-between.

One time we were having a sociological discussion in the Upper Intermediate class related to different places and economies. This one kid, who was either French or Belgian, states "Africa does not have as much as Europe because Europeans work harder." Needless to say, all sorts of alarms went off in my head. As the teacher I felt it my duty to keep things focused on ESL, but asked him to consider the cultural differences that create different levels of wealth between (white) Europeans and Africans. I asked him if he really thought the average dirt-poor farmer, oil worker or diamond miner in Africa did not work hard, and eventually he came around that cultural differences could be the reason why one group has more modern-day distractions than the other group.

I did my best, but I was still BSing him. I felt it would have been out of line to point out that Africans are worse off economically because Europeans have been raping their resources for the last 200 years. And it's not the kid's fault. The Europeans do just as much to never face their colonial past as Americans do. Germams are more willing to make amends for Nazism than the horrors their Prussian ancestors committed in Africa. All the European kids at that camp had a vague idea that Nelson Mandela was an admirable peron, but nobody could even tell me what he did. They were fed the same nonsense about his election in South Africa ending racism that American kids get about Martin Luther King ending racism by giving a speech or something.

But it goes deeper. It's class. At some point, the boy's father obviously told him that the reason poor people are poor is because they don't work as hard. Not the situations they are born in, their resources, or the prejudices against them. This is what the rich tell themselves, and their children, in order to justify a wasteful lifestyle, and their own culpability in oppression. So it was interesting to me when Romney said basically what this kid said. Two people, separated by age and geography, with the same story embedded in their culture. Romney is a politician, a liar by trade, but I know he 100% believes this.

And that's always infuriated me. I've never met anyone on government assistance who wanted to be. Yes, living in the Bay, I met a fair share of lazy pothead assholes getting by on their EBT cards and welfare. California's a welfare state and it breeds that culture. The real people, however, were making ends meet on welfare while working jobs, when they could find work. Romney says such people "believe that they are entitled to healthcare, to food, to housing." Health, food, and shelter are apparently an entitlement now. That was a "let them eat cake" moment if I ever saw one.

Romney's the equivalent of that kid at the school who walked around with $700 cash in his wallet, then whined when it got stolen. His idea of what is important is completely divorced from everyone else's. Yes, people believe they are entitled to the basic things that were taken from them. For instance, there's a lot of homeless in the Bay. The wealthy keep arbitrarily raising property values with no end in sight. That's also why the area is such a powder keg. You cannot have champagne-sippers living in close proximity to that many people who literally have nothing. After all, gated communities were invented for a reason.

This is all propoganda. The shiftless negro (cousin to the negro rapist), the drunk Irishman, the siesta-taking Mexican, the no-class-having white trash. These stereotypes are invented to make the poor hate each other, and themselves. How many poor have internalized that they are not worthy of healthcare? The town hall meetings with the people shouting. And they say it's the blacks over there being lazy, without realizing that, in Romney's eyes, they're just one dirty lump.

And can somebody explain to me why this guy is running for president? Somebody who was pro-choice up until some mouth-breather told him this year that he's required to hate women. I know why Obama ran. Because at some point somebody told him (paraphrasing George R.R. Martin), because he looks nice, dresses nice, and smells nice, he should be president. Romney's the same kind of narcissist. This guy outright says he doesn't care about his constituents. He's there for the same reason Bush was there: to help out his buddies monetarily. For a guy like him, governance will always be second to business.

Behind that smirking exterior, there's some truly evil things going on. The Republicans are far right-wing. I watched a bit of the RNC, which they held in Florida this year, just to troll all the people they disenfranchised in 2000. A sea of white faces. And they were literally throwing nuts at a black reporter and calling her an "animal." I kind of liked the Clint Eastwood speech, rambling as it was, but the moment he said "we own this" and they started roaring was genuinely terrifying. I wondered how many people there were former, or active, members of the Florida Klan. The fact that they trotted out Condoleeza Rice made the whole thing even more sinister. I wouldn't want to be within a mile of such a place. Behind the rhetoric, there are people in their party who truly want blacks subservient, who truly view women as brood mares, who truly want homosexuals wiped off the earth. So it comes to the same decision as every four years: spineless beurocrats versus comic book villains.

It took me awhile, but I've finally joined the 50 percent (there are those percentages again) of Americans who don't vote. I probably will at some point, for smaller elections and such, but the federal election is just masochistic. On November 2nd I'll be in Canada at World Fantasy, watching the events from afar, probably talking politics all day long.

Despite what many say, Americans aren't stupid. Many people, not anarchists, not socialists, but regualr Americans see the two-party system as a smokescreen and refuse to take part. And sometimes their response is complete apathy, which is never good, but there's a large contingent who are just fed up with the whole thing. I don't expect the electoral system to change in any way. The change is going to come from the people, as these politicians keep letting them down.

Back to my point. Simply put, there are many rich people who hate poor people. The same reason many whites hate blacks: a guilty conscience due to oppression, and a refusal to acknowledge it by seeing the oppressed as the orginators of their problems. It is the fear of retaliation. Only hate would inspire somebody born with the best healthcare in the world to deny the poor healthcare. Obama said black people need to "pull themsleves up by their bootstraps." Obama is also a millionaire. He grew up in a privileged household in the tropical paradise of Hawaii, and does not have the slightest idea what it means to really struggle in this country.

I wish Romney had stuck to his guns. I believe that we, as a country, are moving towards a new level of honesty. Things are so bad that folks are losing the energy to keep up their lies. There's a reason the police--and vigilante cop wannabes--are shooting young black men left and right now. They simply don't have the energy to maintain that "protect and serve" PR, and just want to blast away their perceived enemy. Romney was raised to believe what he believes, same as that kid in the ESL class. It's a lie, but it's a lie that allows him to get through his day. It's a cornerstone, a keystone. It's the heart of him.

1 comment:

  1. Damn, dude. I vote for more jeremiads on this blog. This is all I caught of the debate.