I can save you a lot of time tonight, when the President will deliver his State of the Union Address. The entire affair is completely predictable.
First, the President will tell us that the State of the Union is strong. He will then go on to address its points of weakness: jobs, immigration, education, voting, and guns. He will offer practical strategies for addressing all of these, and he will go out of his way to do so in a manner that studiously avoids offending anyone.
Next, the GOP will tell us that the President is a socialist who represents the worst of “big government” intrusion into our private lives. His economic plan will hurt small businesses. His immigration policy amounts to nothing more than a free ride for illegals on the backs of hard-working Americans. He’s taken God out of the classroom – which explains both poor test scores and school shootings. He’s coming to take your guns away and his wife wants to outlaw corn syrup.
Then they will go home to their districts, where they will proceed to manipulate the democratic process to a state of near-inversion wherein one man has $1 billion votes and most of us have none. Their gerrymandering at the state level will give sparsely populated white Republican districts each their very own representative, while starving the more densely populated urban districts down to just a few. They will change the way their states vote to eliminate the possibility of Democratic victory.
They will continue their prodding – literally – of women along The Handmaid’s Tale path toward losing all reproductive autonomy. They will work to overturn Roe v. Wade, to defend the Defense of Marriage Act, to revive Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and to constitutionally prohibit gay marriage. They will scale the clock tower and turn the hands of time back at least half a century, and they will do it all while proclaiming themselves to be “the party of small government.”
An unwilling coalition of Ayn Rand capitalists and Christian fundamentalists, they are the New Theocracy. The only thing small about them is their minds.
Mr. President, you need to be clear tonight. When you want to tell the YouTube generation what time it is, you have to say it straight:
You’re a middle class guy with middle class values; you’re one of us. Your opponent was an entitled rich kid who grew up to look down on us. He just plain doesn’t like us.
You believe in helping people who can’t necessarily help themselves. Your opponent couldn’t care less about them. He thinks they’re freeloading scum.
You believe that America should be a place where everyone has access to the same high quality medical care regardless of their circumstances. Your opponent’s math goes like this: BANK ACCOUNT = MEDICAL BUDGET = LIFE SPAN.
You believe that women are equal to men and therefore have a natural right to control their own bodies; your opponent, well, who knows what he believes? But his running mate is in favor of forcing a woman to bear her rapist’s – even her father’s – child. Sort of like an American Taliban.
You are a student of history, a believer in science, and a fan of reality. No one knows what your opponent believes, since he denies ever saying anything.
You believe in the DREAM Act. Your opponent is a NIGHTMARE.
Say it all with the soundtrack from 8 Mile playing in your head.
These are Orwellian times. They are doubleplusungood for language, politics, memory, and sanity. Lies stand unashamedly as lies, passing for truths. The existence of videotape is somehow of no consequence. We see and hear it for ourselves but then misremember it. We are blackwhite in the Newspeak sense– willing to know that facts are revisable and experiences are unreliable. You say it’s black? Looks black to me. No wait, you say it’s white? Right. Clearly it’s white. You’ve always said it was white.
One candidate is being held to account for the unfulfilled promises of a wholly obstructed presidency; the other won’t be accountable for the last five minutes. Seriously. What he said five minutes ago – he no longer believes it. Didn’t mean it. Never happened.
Early on, he expressed concern for the poor but later moved on to claim a lack of concern. When it played poorly in the press, he grew concerned again. Passionately against abortion and outspoken in his belief that life begins at conception, this candidate nonetheless supported the “morning after” pill and vowed to “preserve and protect” a woman’s right to an abortion. He has said that he feels “very deeply about the need to respect and tolerate people of different social or sexual orientation,” but holds that “marriage should be preserved as an institution for one man and one woman.” These last two statements were actually made within the same perfect sentence: one that encapsulates the essence of man who will say anything and then stand by it.
Mr. Contradiction Man, the King of Doublespeak, is running for the Presidency of Oceania. How many of us are willing to live there with him?
Why not dive right in? In the second podcast, I discuss birth control and abortion from an anthropological perspective. Every young woman should listen to this, regardless of her position on the matter.
It’s hard to believe what’s going on in America. It’s like the second half of the 20th century never happened. Did I miss the episode where the plot got shifted to an alternate timeline? I hate it when they fuck with the timeline.
Seriously. I thought that legalized meant settled, as in no longer open for debate. I thought I could count on an America where abortion would always be safe and women would remain in charge of their own bodies. I thought that access to and use of birth control would never again be seen as anything other than sensible, especially in light of the now-legal alternative.
I thought that history equaled lessons learned, as in we’ll never make that mistake again. I thought that after the Great Depression, I could grow old feeling safe in the knowledge that I won’t have to sell apples in the street if I live past seventy – or blood if I lose my job. I thought that after the Civil Rights and anti-war movements of the sixties and seventies, after the Children’s March and Kent State, police officers would never again attack peaceful American citizens exercising their legal right to assemble.
I thought that science and rationality had won the battle with magical thinking, as in we don’t believe in ridiculous crap anymore. I thought that since antibiotics were an accepted thing, so was evolution, since they’re based on exactly the same principles. I thought that since the melting of polar and alpine ice and the flooding of low-lying lands is patently obvious to anyone looking, let alone living there, people would accept the fact that the climate is changing. I thought it was pretty clear that there isn’t a giant white man living in the sky somewhere, making all of this happen.
Clearly I was wrong. I encounter ignorance and arrogance on a daily basis, in the news and among my students. Ignorance of history and arrogance of belief. I’d like to believe that the sequence of history shows a straight line moving from brutality and stupidity toward kindness and enlightenment, but I can’t.
It’s just a jump to the left. . . and then a step to the right.