La la land

I already established the theme of this post a month ago, the short version of which is “the fundamental reality surrounding us is a disaster, and for individuals the additional choice to confront that is made even more unappealing by the huge number of people engaged in some form or another of escapist play-pretend.”

The past week has served up more and more of this on basically every front. I have adopted the term “la la land” as shorthand for the many forms of reality-denying nonsense, especially the energetic promotion of one after another new reform bills which are all pure fantasy absent a revolution within the US Senate.

I mockingly asked last week if people believe that the Senate is a dam, which simply must burst if a large enough flood of legislation builds up behind it. Honestly I would like to believe that some theory resembling this really is circulating among Democratic reformers. If there’s any hope for Senate Democrats’ pseudo-majority to overcome the Republican obstruction and the small but critical number of Democrats enabling it, it seems like it will involve every interest within the Democratic coalition insisting on it. Introducing legislation which coalition members really want, e.g. the PRO Act, would plausibly encourage such an uprising. I don’t assume that this would work, but it would at least be a “theory of the case.”

I suspect not, though. Also last week, I literally called the office of my representative to the US House and asked if there is any theory of the case, or if the party is just giving up and introducing message bills now; the staff’s response was basically a that’s-how-things-are shrug.

More significantly, it just seems like nearly everyone is adrift in la la land, all the time.

Seven days ago national media kicked off a weekend orgy of stupid:

  • The AP tried to make a scandal from Pres. Biden traveling the short distance from Washington to his home in Delaware three weekends out of eight
  • CNN—in extremely questionable circumstances—tried to stoke immigrant panic and feed Republicans’ “border crisis” fake narrative
  • The Washington Post published a dire warning to Democrats that actually governing, with popular policies no less, may “delight liberals — but pose political risks”
  • The Post also tried to make a scandal about Biden not providing the (regularly ridiculous and irresponsible) White House press corps with enough of certain forms of interaction
  • I was not alone in perceiving all this, as others commented on Twitter e.g. “it’s not just WaPo either. I heard the same shite on MSNBC recently too” and “Watching the Sunday shows and the talk is still Dems are in disarray. Anchors just can’t deal with normalcy, they’re stoking a fight.”

Republicans, of course, are in toxic lie-lie-land all the time. Which doesn’t mean I don’t see detachment from reality elsewhere, because I certainly do. Plenty of Democrats sojourn in la la land, from US senators dropping fantasy bill after fantasy bill without a way for them even to get a vote, to Ohio Senate Dems offering nothing except approving signal-boosting for the DeWine administration’s total joke of a vaccine-access portal. (It’s basically just a search for pharmacies within 20 miles, that’s what the government of the seventh largest state has to show for an entire year to prepare for vaccine distribution.) Many friends on the left, meanwhile, are still repeating “abolish the police,” which I’m sorry is exactly as thoughtful and productive as Republicans demanding “abolish the IRS.” Come on.

Despite which, quantitative differences can make two things wildly different even if qualitative comparisons exist for many features. COVID-19 is one example; the difference between health and sickness can depend at least as much on the amount of virus one inhales as upon the presence or absence of any trace of the virus whatsoever. In America’s dysfunctional politics, there is no comparison between the disappointing blob of the Democratic Party and the Republican cabal among which rot is so extensive that e.g. its 2020 national convention literally produced no party platform except unconditional support for whatever bigoted conman Donald J. Trump wants. Scale should defy any attempt at pretending that there is not really a particular Republican problem.

Should but doesn’t! Watching various reformers try, try, try to contort all of their thinking and dialogue around the existence of a particular Republican problem is like watching a performer attempt what is technically daring yet painfully stupid and banal. Today I observed someone I follow on Twitter boosting The Millennial Action Project‘s la la land campaign “to bridge the partisan divide and transform American politics.” Like the Independent Voters I mentioned in a previous post, I suppose they mostly mean well, but the problem is not “partisanship.” The problem is that the Republican Party has become an intellectually corrupt cabal, actively hostile to the basic concepts of accountable representative democracy and good government. The way that so much of society can’t/won’t see this, no matter what, reminds me more and more of H.G. Wells’s “The Country of the Blind.”

It mostly feels, to some extent or another, very cargo cult-ish as well. People and institutions seem unaware that many systems even exist beyond the shallowest surface level, let alone how those systems work or don’t work. The continued grasping at some surface piece of an obsolete system, now so hollow that it may as well be a styrofoam prop, is every bit as hopeless as “primitive” Pacific islanders muttering into a fake radio set, expecting that the ritual which delivered bounty for others, before, will work if repeated, must work.

2 Thoughts on “La la land

  1. Pingback: Vaccines and HyperNormalisation | Matt Kuhns

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