Smarmy Alligator

Politics, pop culture, and self-deprecation

with one comment

I have avoided saying anything thus far post-election, mostly because my rage and frustration were so blinding, nothing coherent or meaningful could come out. But here we are, a week later, and I think I’m finally calm enough to put my thoughts (of which there are too many) into some kind of intelligible form.

The only question I’ve been able to ask myself, like some kind of malfunctioning Stepford-robot, for the past week is, how did this happen? How is it at all possible that this man, rather than being impeached, was re-elected? What colossal failures, and on whose watch, occured to allow Bush & Co. another term in office?

And, of course, as everyone is asking (in more or less irritating and nauseating ways), where do we go from here? There has been much chattering about the “confusion” of the Democratic party, like we’re all running around in circles, with dazed looks on our faces, bumping into walls and knocking each other over. The prevalent image of the Democratic party now is one of struggle and (very polite) infighting, as we bicker over what direction the party should take, and how we go about reclaiming the “red states.” (Some people have other ideas about what to do with those red states–I don’t think they’re entirely wrong).

There are two huge thoughts that have been taking up most of my mental space, two things that we need to take a very close look at, and bring into a brighter spotlight nationally. (Well, there are certainly more than two, overall, but I’m starting small.) First, and foremost in my mind right now (blame Noam Chomsky) is the role of the media in our national politics.

Bob Herbert, in the New York Times yesterday, argued that “ignorance played at least as big a role in the election’s outcome as values.” I can’t argue with that, and I’ve been saying it for months. Herbert points out all the completely untrue things that Bush supporters believed as they cast their ballots last week: that Iraq is definitively connected to Al Qaeda, that weapons of mass destruction certainly were found in Iraq, that Bush is not, in fact, a big, fat, evil lying man. (Er, alright, that last part wasn’t actually in Herbert’s column.) The American people have been hugely mislead, and many have not been set straight.

Of course we can blame Bush & Co. for that. They based their campaign on distortions and lies, and have made it a signature element of their administration to ignore facts they’d rather were not true. But there is something else we can blame, as well, and I was a bit perturbed that Herbert didn’t mention it in his column.

The mainstream media have fallen down on the job. Their role as government watchdog is a freakin’ joke. Of course, this is really nothing new, but I think perhaps their complicity with government has reached new heights (or would that be depths?) of ridiculousness. I could string together a very dirty laundry list of various media omissions, biases, propaganda-machine moments, and outright lies. It is a filthy and corrupted institution in need of serious surgery. That would be step one.

And major-topic-I’m-obsessing-over number two? What the hell are “morals” anymore, anyway? If Bush & Co. could win another term thanks to all those people who cited “moral issues” as their main concern in this election, the very idea of morality is seriously up for debate. And I think it damn well should be. I think it’s time for the Democratic party, and the left generally, to pick up this ball and run with it. If the right wants morality to be a pillar of electoral strategy, that isn’t a problem. Because if you look closely, beyond the rhetoric and the push-button “moral” issues that have been dominating this field for the past decade, if you start thinking about real morality, there’s no question who stands up to criticism here. I’m sorry, but fig fat liars who send people to die in a war meant to benefit themselves and their business partners simply do not meet my criteria for morality.

There are many, many things I’ve been pondering for this past week. But they all tend to center around these two poles, gravitating back and making me realize the same things, over and over. And these are the things I will continue to talk about, and much more loudly than I have been. Because we cannot let this happen again. And I’ll be damned if I let them run around freely with their “mandate.”


Written by laura k

November 9, 2004 at 12:16 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. I think, as you said many months ago, that we do have the same brain on certain days. your brain is just better at articulating the ideas than mine. i will say this: for the past week, as i’ve been depressed and shocked (even while living in a republican state) at the outcome of the election, my mind keeps circling back to the media, and how much they fucked up this election. this thought has been so persistent, in fact, that it’s made me consider going back to school for journalism or media studies. anyway, just wanted to say i second that emotion, lady.

    laura barth

    November 9, 2004 at 4:58 pm

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