When I was a small kid I wanted to be Perry Mason. No, not because he was fat and could fall on and crush villains, or had a future as a crippled bastard, but due to the use of words. And he had other people doing the minor details.
Then I heard JFK speak – and thought, that’s it. You could look at Richard Nixon and just lift your leg, fart on him, and that would do it for him.
Thus at the same time, I began to wonder about other politicians. What made them believe they had solutions to almost everything when some of them looked like they last read a book called Dick and Jane?
Was it just that they listened to other numbskulls, and then derived their ideas from what those poltroons had not said as well as what they yapped about? None of them seemed particularly schooled in intellectual discovery, as in had a sense of curiosity that extended beyond their own specific interests.
To me that resulted in immediate dismissal of any desire to know more of what they had to say.
Plus they seemed like moral cripples who waited to see how many yelled ‘yay’ or ‘that’s the ticket’ to validate their ‘ideas’ (really cribbed sketches of ideas), at which point they would either shrink down and run away, or stand up and start drawing attention. No matter if the ideas were good or bad. Like circus barkers, ‘Come one, come all, buy my shit.’ Nah.
Outside the generational politicians with a heritage of riches and thus attendance at highly valued colleges, the only other choice seemed to be in those who had a rough life, and thus could brag about being ‘of the people.’ But were they just incipient psychopaths who did not play well with others? Not exactly a source for comfortable inspiration.
Which brought me to the point where I questioned the fact that many were trying to be inspiring, which I found particularly horror-ible.
One of the philosophers I listened to regularly when I was younger was inspiring just be being himself. Alan Watts. Other than that, he was a fucking drunk who lived on a ship. But brilliant.
You could imagine the insults if he tried to run for office. ‘He lives on a ship, and it’s not his.’ ‘He drinks too much.’ ‘He believes in philosophy, can’t kill enemies with words.’ The usual bullshit from non-entities who don’t have a single original idea between them… but unfortunately, the standard.
It used to be said that a nuthouse was like a snakepit, a mental ward where the only thing separating the chuckleheads from the keepers was who held the keys. That became my view of politics and their supporters.
I heard Stephen Lewis talk. He was the son of one of the Canadian NDP (New Democratic Party) politicos. It was like music. Reasoned, passionate (bright, therefore passion wasn’t about yelling and overpowering, circus-like), and far reaching. Inspiring. He’d get my vote… but the vote was a given, while the ideas were not.
So obviously it’s clear whomever wanted my vote would have inspired it, not solicited it. And to me that said it all about so-called politics. The best and the worst of it. An immediate dismissal of those attempting to earn it (i.e.Nixon), and a yes to those who’d inspired it (JFK).
After that we’d get around to their ideas. And an examination of those in power with whom they had to interact. Which would make clear their characters, for examination, not approval.
Seems like the process is backwards now. i.e. current Prez He may have inspired, said the right things, but he lacks in the follow-up department where he is open enough to speak about what worries a great majority. Debt, jobs, the country’s position in the world and how all those things combine and interact with other influences.
I think Shakespeare got it right when he said, first, kill all the lawyers. Meaning I suppose that there was endless yapping and a protracted misery that made them rich and enabled while others merely wilted or died, and process was reduced to a sterile, tortuous ‘conversation’ in which the principles had absolutely no interest.
Today, we’re surrounded by ‘lawyers.’ A mass of uneducated, unlearned intellectual versions of lightweight flipflops merely reactive to every other flipflop. Everybody knows everything… sort of, they all have an opinion, with a lack of knowledge, schooling in their subject (in depth details), and culture in every aspect, except a very select number of writers, has been reduced to this representative gossip good for old ladies of either sex. I know the sand rats probably love that fact. The country’s making warbling tools, and they’re busy schooling psychopathic warriors, all the while China is quietly taking over and sending an unspoken message, ‘learn Mandarin, ah so.’
When everybody knows everything, no one knows anything.
And the politicians, political candidates, reflect all this. In terms of historical awareness, and an inspiring difference, real ‘smarts’ (articulate with lessons learned from history/philosophy/literature/psychology backing up words) are as rare as a red diamond.
Everybody hears the noise-some crap, but no one’s noticing that it’s not the real thing. No true substance at all because the politicos are basically diaper full and nothing more.
Give me Alan Watts drunk on his ship, or Irving Layton (called Canada’s “greatest poet” by Leonard Cohen) reciting his own poems, Stephen Lewis just talking, or the icon Bob Dylan mumbling on stage (as distinct from the funny person), instead of the current tower of Babel just waiting to fall.
© Dean J. Baker
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The Mother Ship: http://deanjbaker.wordpress.com