Friday, 7 November 2014

Not Dead, Just Resting (Well, Not Resting, But...)

Apparently my absence has begun to cause concern. Fear not, I am well, simply unbelievably busy, balancing a high-stress job that I'm still getting the hang of with moving stuff from our old house to our new one every night.

Besides, what is there to talk about? Last week's Who? I'll probably discuss that, but I wanted something else to come first; it seems like Capaldi's newest role is all I talk about these days.  The US midterms? Well... do I have to?

Yes, I should be furious. And I am, at the back of my mind. I mean, people are literally going to die because of this Republican wave. They'll die coughing and retching because state governors would quite literally their citizens die than a Democratic initiative gain traction, and they'll die hungry and cold because the Republican Senate won't so much as look at a jobs bill until Obama is rotting in a jail cell for the unforgivable crime of winning presidential elections whilst black.

Really though, it's hard to be angry when I'm this depressed. This result was too inevitable for me to feel anything else.  It's not like any of this is a surprise.  This was the midterms; most people stay home and a horrifying proportion of those that do head for the polls are just annoyed that one man has had the effrontery to be president for six whole years in a row (the fact that this time that man is black just makes everything so much worse; the Magic Negro trope has an awful lot to answer for).

This one impulse seems to eclipse all others. To eclipse cause and effect. To eclipse the most basic processes of common sense. Rick Scott has the morals of a shark, the petulance of a toddler, and the face of that lizard chick from V. He was re-elected. Scott Walker alternates between screwing the working class and selling off his state wholesale. He was re-elected. Sam Brownback has reduced Kansas to a mortally-wounded laughing stock, gushing blood as his conservative experiment sends the state's economy into a dive even a kamikaze pilot might balk at as too steep.  He was re-elected.

The flipping of the Senate may be even worse. Four years after America voted in the most venal, preening and unhinged Congress of the last, well, ever, the considered decision of the country is that it's worth adding a little extra stupid to the mix. After six years of unprecedented obstruction, after
six years of trying to stop people getting cheaper healthcare, of stopping crumbling roads and decaying bridges from being repaired, of stopping the unemployed having hope for new jobs, of stopping Americans who arrived in the country as toddlers from feeling they might have a place in their adopted country, the Republicans are given the reins of power. Because it's year six, and everyone's sick of the guy in the Oval.

If there is a surprise here, it's in how little the Republicans even felt the need to try this time around. Not that they had much choice. Senate Republicans could trumpet only how proficient they had become at refusing to do their damn jobs [1], and their comrades in the House could point only to how many times (Fifty? More? I lost count) they voted to repeal the ACA, like toddlers telling their parents they've decided mealtimes should no longer include vegetables.

The Republicans ran on nothing.  The country decided nothing was enough.

Except not really.  All the country decided was to stay home. The Republicans didn't so much much get handed the keys to power so much as saunter passed an inattentive doorman. The country didn't so much cut its nose off to spite its face as not bother keeping their eye on the approaching psychopath armed with a scalpel because there was a new game out for the X-Box One, or whatever.

It's tempting at this point to trot out the hoary cliche (hoary cliche being itself a hoary cliche at this point, of course) that you get the government you deserve. Which is true for every apathetic white guy who stayed home [1] because "both sides do it" or "all politicians lie", obviously. The problem is that everyone else got the government those idiots deserved, too. That's where the schadenfreude rather comes up short.

Regular readers will know what I'm going to blame all this on, of course: the media in general, and the Little Brother Theory in particular. For those new to the idea, the Little Brother Theory states that the Republicans can get away with things the Democrats could never come close to, because the Republicans are the little brother, and it's the Democrats job to be the sensible elder sibling who has to forgive their younger sibling for not knowing how to behave. It is this asymmetry that prompts journalists and op-ed writers who otherwise give every impression of being able to tie their own shoelaces to claim that, yes, a high-ranking Republican just claimed the president was an unhinged dictator working to bring Sharia law to the United States, but the president in turn suggested the official might be more interested in attacking him than governing, so really, aren't both sides equally to blame?

Never has the Little Brother Theory been more appropriate. After six years of screaming themselves sick in the longest and most damaging temper tantrum in recent memory, America seems to have finally given in, like an exhausted parent, and handed the bawling child a bag of candy because FINE OK JUST PLEASE SHUT UP!

Except of course that this particular child didn't demand candy. He demanded a flame-thrower. And now he has it. And whilst frankly large sections of the US were on fire anyway, it doesn't follow that there's no more damage to be done.

This is America. There's always someone else to sacrifice. There's always somewhere else to burn.

[1] The only aspect of this cluster-cuss that has me curious is whether the Democratic Senate minority will now become as trigger-happy with the filibuster as the Republicans have been in recent years, or whether they'll hold fire, figuring the President will veto anything the GOP Congress sends his way in any case.

[2] I'm sure lots of white women and people of colour may need a stern talking-to over this as well, but I don't get to be the person to do that.


darkman said...

Aren't you a mathematician? How stressful can your job really be?

SpaceSquid said...

Ask the 120 students relying on me to not screw up their course results.