Groundhog Day politics

I’m tired of the stupid, empty, ritualized war which has replaced national politics in this country.

America is a dysfunctional failed state, but the rotting zombie shambles along, nonetheless. The belief that some sort of shock will revive moribund neurons seems nonsense at this point. The entire Trump presidency with its New-York-phonebook of abuses and atrocities produced no more than tiny, marginal political movement in the big picture.

The coalitions have held; almost nothing seems to matter; to the extent that any things do matter they tend to be so arbitrary that they reinforce the rule of irrational, inescapable nightmare.

This is perhaps the truest definition of “a system-wide problem with system-wide problems”: when events seem so broadly meaningless that incentive to adapt actions or thinking evaporates, at the same time as resulting exhaustion intensifies the general tendency toward inertia.

I’m tired above all of the decayed “two-party system” which seems to be an implacable idée fixe. Once upon a time, America knew how to close a failed major political party and reorganize, but the culture seems to have lost this technology since the 19th century.

Journalism continues performing the same rituals, no matter how many moments of reckoning come and go. Formal political processes are increasingly ritual and noise, divorced from activity which certainly continues and evolves independently, but not in encouraging ways.

The legal system seems increasingly to be about the only large scale public system where lol-nothing-matters has been checked, substantially, but even absent Republicans’ partisan corruption of it, the legal system alone is not adequate substitute for a functional politics. It is slow, inherently reactionary, and expensive, e.g.; Dominion lawsuits will not stop or reverse the broader rot.

I’m tired of this. It’s stupid and bullshit and I’m tired of it. I’m tired of pushing on a rope. I’m tired of fantasies that something is about to disrupt the deteriorating stalemate, magically. I’m tired of shrugs and “I guess we just keep on muddling.”

I’m tired of muddle.

I’m 42 years old and this slow-motion collapse has been in motion since before I was born. The sabotage forces were entirely identifiable by my late adolescence. They reached the point of horrifying by my early adulthood, but they just kept on operating, and the system does nothing but carry on, also, as cancer spreads. The only semblance of real, broad rejection of the rotting political status quo (c. 2006-08) was itself shrugged off by other parts of the system, which reimposed continuity and failed “regular order,” likely squandering the last opportunity to renew the system from within the system.

I’m tired of diving into a dumpster even as it’s on fire, as though any time now, this will turn up something besides rotting garbage.

Part 2

As I was writing the above, I kept thinking that the situation is kind of like Cleveland, scaled up to a national level. Cleveland is, and has been for some time, also a zombie political system which seems proof against either restoring to health or toppling; nothing seems to matter.

I didn’t mention that thought because it seemed like digressing to a half-formed idea. Then, right around the time I hit “publish,” news broke that the feds have arrested Cleveland City Council member Ken Johnson.

The context for this does indeed match up with the larger system of reform-proof dysfunction. Ken Johnson’s corruption has been out in the open for years, but it didn’t matter, any more than the similar corruption of the rest of Cleveland government. The legal system, as today’s news attests, is still comparatively functional, but it seems unlikely that this will matter to the larger problems, either. It hasn’t mattered to similar corruption in Ohio state government, as even guilty pleas in the corruption charges related to buying House Bill 6 have resulted in neither the law’s repeal nor the expulsion from office of kingpin Larry Householder nor any voter turn against Republican control of state government.

A few hours after the news about Ken Johnson, I saw this USA Today op-ed by Norm Eisen et al., and it seemed like one sign too many to ignore, thus this blog post gets a Part 2.

As the op-ed notes, Republicans Big Lie about voting fraud is thriving, and nothing seems to matter. Debunking hasn’t mattered. The Capital insurrection hasn’t mattered. Corporate indigestion hasn’t mattered.

In proposing solutions, the op-ed leads off with “an aggressive legal campaign” and I don’t think that’s by chance. Before moving on to things which should happen but won’t—such as deplatforming by TV news—the set out something actually credible. Credible but inadequate.

The op-ed acknowledges much further down that “litigation is not enough,” even as it tacitly acknowledges that it’s about the only thing we can expect.

I’m very tired of that.

One Thought on “Groundhog Day politics

  1. Pingback: America’s Politics Not Fit for Purpose | Matt Kuhns

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