I’d like to look back on a year that in a lot of ways was shit-tastic. 2015 disappointed me in lots of ways. Mass shootings were everywhere in the news, in fact according to some sources they happened at a rate greater than once a day. Want to review the greatest hits? Here you go: mass shootings As a sick complement to that, police shootings are up too. police shootings We lost a bunch of beloved celebrities, among them Leonard Nimoy and Lemmy of Motörhead. The thin mask of humanity covering the GOP was finally discarded as every single candidate for the Republican nomination have gone full Voldemort, every single one of them is cartoonishly evil, they have abandoned their century-old “frugal steward of the public’s funds” pose and gone full austerity sadist. Any program that helps anyone without a billion dollar bank balance is somehow now an unaffordable communist subsidy of people they see as no better than morlocks. And our Democratic candidates are so goddamn timid in their repudiation of the Republican platform that it makes me sick. How hard is it to not be a reluctant apologetic leftist and “bleeding heart liberal”? Get a freaking megaphone and shout at the top of your lungs why being a liberal is the smart, sane and compassionate choice. Pick up a slogan that works like “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” and hit the conservatives over their head with it whenever they freak out about terrorism or ebola or the possibility that some poor person somewhere might be getting helped by the government. Get on every soapbox you can find and hit the republicans over the head with their chummy relationship with the worst people in the world from oil industry titans desperate to stop any kind of action against global warming, to billionaire plutocrats who’d prefer to be autocrats, to evangelical weirdos with dreams of turning the US into a horrifying mix of George Orwell’s 1984 and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s tale, to firearms manufacturers selling home massacre kits under the guise of protecting our 2nd amendment rights.
It’s enough to make me despair. And yet I can’t be the guy that calls for all of the wingnuts and likely Trump voters to be stripped of their voting rights or worse. The conservatives, reactionaries, evangelicals and others who vote reliably republican aren’t space aliens, they aren’t sheep, they aren’t zombies. I don’t know how to reach them though, especially given how many of them seem to think that any attempt to address the issues that are of an actual existential threat to the USA and humanity as a whole are met with accusations of communism or worse. A statistician of my acquaintance introduced me to a saying common in her line of work, “all models lie, but some models are useful” And I think that statement is true across a far broader range of subjects than just statistics. We all have in our heads a model of “how the world works”. But the model in the heads of conservatives is so different from my model it’s hard to believe we both live on the same planet. And since some of the most powerful figures on the right have gained that power through a lifetime of fearmongering and pandering to the worst instincts of the American electorate, none of them are going to be eager to reverse course unless they think they have to.
Even now they are silent on the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge center by the same group of assholes that stood off the feds at the Bundy ranch. It’s not clear to me if they really want to start some shit with the feds or more likely, want more publicity for on line fundraising so they don’t have to go back to their dead end real life jobs. I’m not even going to criticize the Obama administration’s handling of the situation, as I’m sure the last thing they want heading into an election cycle is the publicity disaster of a shootout with a bunch of guys that have been claiming for years that Obama is a tyrant. By not giving them the violent confrontation they are seeking, the Obama administration saps the legitimacy from their movement. The trouble is, that strategy of refusing confrontation can look a lot like weakness. So once again, a fraction of the country is like the Coyote getting outraged that the road runner isn’t stepping into his crude and obvious trap.