Sunday 13 December 2015

Why I’m not writing about politics: I’m bored.

Back in 2011, I went nuts about the GOP nominations. In 2012, I went nuts about the election. Now, in 2015, nary a peep. I have no plans for 2016. What gives?

In 2011, I discovered the Republicans had been taken over by the Tea Party, a far far right Christian fundamentalism, white male dominated, faith before facts brand of conservatism to beat all conservatism. It was hilarious. People would open their mouths and then, without any reflection, without obviously any knowledge, experience, or logical powers of reasoning, utter the most inane bits of nonsense as if they were Moses coming down from the Mount doling out profound words of wisdom God would be proud of. I suppose this has existed for all times in the political arena, but I can’t help thinking the craziness of the past few years started with the arrival of Sarah Palin on the scene. As I’ve written elsewhere, John McCain, in hopes of getting votes, did one of the greatest disservices to the American political process. Sarah Palin should not have been allowed in the building, never mind being allowed on stage. She makes Forest Gump look like a genius.

Of course, an astute observer is quite rightly going to say that a comparison to Forest Gump is a hyperbole meant for humorous effect. Guilty as charged. However, the latest crop of GOP presidential candidates is no better than the 2011 line-up and certainly no better than Palin. Whenever Ben Carson or Donald Trump open their mouths, I ask myself why anybody is listening to them. This is no more worthy of my attention than the drunken lout staggering out of a bar at one in the morning incoherently spouting off about God only knows what.

Back in my twenties, my artsy fartsy period, I became fascinated with all things intellectual: science, art, philosophy, and religion. I was willing to talk, expound, debate, and argue to the wee hours of the morning, sorting out all the ills of the world. One of the hot topics of the time was that age-old favourite: God. Does He exist? Is He a She? Can we know His design? Is the Bible His word verbatim? And those conversations went on ad infinitum. Or should I say ad nauseum?

One time, two smiling enthusiastic adherents of the Jehovah’s Witnesses knocked at my door. They made the mistake of accepting my invitation to come in. "Abandon hope all ye who enter here." Much to their surprise and consternation, I was not looking for salvation. For about an hour, both sides laid out their positions, detailed their arguments and proselytised the sh*t out of their beliefs. At the end of the match, the judges declared no knockouts and awarded each party a tie.

What I did not grasp at the time is that when it comes to faith, you don’t argue; you believe. There are no rational arguments to justify your beliefs. There is no logical train of thought, which systematically steps through the empirical evidence to objectively arrive at the only acceptable conclusion. You believe. You believe for every drop of rain a flower grows. You don’t care about science. You don’t care about witnesses. You don’t care about verifiable and repeatable experimentation. You believe. Period. End of story. This is where you put both hands over your ears, squeeze your eyes shut, and loudly say, “La, la, la, la, la.”

An acquaintance became a born-again Christian. She took me out to one of her evangelical church services; I suppose with the idea of saving my soul. I remember being startled by random members of the congregation periodically standing up and loudly proclaiming, “Praise the Lord!” That was certainly something I had never seen growing up in a Protestant family. Imagine my perplexed consternation at behaviour, which was completely at odds with my logic trumps all attitude toward solving the issues.

Today, if I meet a believer, as in the Earth was created six thousand years ago, people and dinosaurs lived in peaceful harmony, and the Bible and all its contradictions is the exact word of God, I do not take up the challenge. I say, “That’s nice,” and move on. It’s not worth the time and effort as that person has crossed over to the other side. Once you’ve crossed over to the other side, there is no logical, rational discussion to be had about anything, as you believe. Period. End of story. You may come back to this side, but you will only do so of your own accord. Nothing I say is going to sway you. So I’m not wasting the spittle.

Politics is very much like religious beliefs. I would like to think there is a logical discussion to be had in order to arrive at the best solution to whatever issue is on the table, but if anything, from the past few years of blogging about politics I realise that people believe what they believe. There is no discussion about the evidence, as people don’t believe the evidence. Who needs facts when you have faith?

Is this “blind belief” tied to education and world experience? The more you know; the less you know. And the opposite: the less you know; the more you believe. On occasion, I’ve heard the expression “the dumbing down of America” and the Tea Party and the GOP in general seem to be representative of that. The utterances of the candidates in the line-up for the GOP nomination display such an ignorance about facts and world affairs, I’m sure the rest of the world is appalled at the possibility of the Republicans winning the White House. The Ugly American indeed.

Several years ago, Jay Leno of The Tonight Show had a bit where he would stand in the street and ask strangers random questions. One time, he shows people a picture of the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C. and asks them to identify the landmark. Several people said it was The Space Needle, the name of the tower in Seattle. These tests of general knowledge and the failure of each passer-by were comedic, but also raised questions about American politics and what we’re seeing today. These people are voters. How can you cast a good vote if your knowledge about the issues is nonexistent or distorted by ignorance and blind faith?

PoliTech is a non-partisan political organisation at Texas Tech University. On October 28, 2014, they released the following video in which they asked students several questions.

1. Who won the Civil War?
2. Who is the current vice-president?
3. From whom did we gain our independence?
4. What show is Snooki on?
5. Who is Brad Pitt married to?

All students on camera could not answer questions one and two. One student correctly answered number three but only after hesitating. Everyone answered questions four and five, both based on pop culture.

In reporting on this, the web site Winning Democrats states: Mark McKenzie, assistant professor of political science at Texas Tech called the answers “jaw-droppingly shocking,” but indicated that they are typical of the population as a whole.

What exactly are we seeing here? These people are the next generation of voters. Heck, they may be voting right now. How can they possibly cast a good vote if they are so out of touch?

The Globe and Mail – Dec 11/2015
Trump’s true believers: How he’s gone farther than Europe’s far right, and who got him there by Doug Sanders
An ABC News/Washington Post poll in late July found that Mr. Trump’s strongest support came from “people at the margins of the Republican primary process.”

Notably, it found that his support is four times higher among those with no postsecondary education (32 per cent of whom support him) than it is among university graduates. Polling at the end of November showed similar results, with Mr. Trump the favoured choice among voters without college degrees by a two-to-one margin over other candidates.

We’re afraid of the unknown. I’d say it’s a common characteristic of the human animal. However, the more ignorant you are of things, of politics, of your country, of the world, and of life, there is quite logically more to be afraid of. We want somebody to make the bogeyman go away. Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, and now Ben Carson and Donald Trump. Let’s vote Republican because... well, I have faith.

In 2000, the American public voted George W. Bush into office. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have a price tag of four to six trillion dollars. (Washington Post) Need I remind you that there were no weapons of mass destruction. (Wikipedia) The 2008 financial crisis has been estimated to have cost Americans twenty-two trillion dollars. (Huff Post Business) Let’s not forget about torture as interrogation and domestic surveillance.

His presidency has been ranked among the worst in surveys of presidential scholars published in the late 2000s and 2010s. -Wikipedia

History repeats itself. We have a tendency to forget about yesterday. Humorously or I should say seriously, politics is like Groundhog Day. What if Trump won? I’m now thinking that when Trump says, “You’re fired,” he’ll have the launch codes.


The 2016 Presidential Race and The GOP Nominations
The Conservative end of the political spectrum is no longer funny, it is now full out bats**t crazy. The belief system of the right is no longer of the right, it has moved to the far right. It has become more and more extreme, more entrenched in ideology than logical debate, more based on faith than on fact. The truth is no longer relative to the conversation.

The Apprentice (U.S. TV series)
The Apprentice is an American reality game show that judges the business skills of a group of contestants. It is closely associated with real estate magnate, businessman and television personality Donald Trump, who hosted 14 seasons of the show from its inception in January 2004 until 2015. ... Each episode typically ended with Trump eliminating one of the contestants with the words, "You're fired" (which has become a locution of both the program and Trump).


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