Three-line program

It just becomes more and more and more difficult to take American political debate and processes seriously. As I have written, real changes are occurring, mostly dire, and I take those very seriously. But these are so detached from most of the rhetoric and rituals which just carry on.

I am reminded of this xkcd:

Compared to some areas of human activity, particularly contemporary American politics, the above flow chart is actually complex and sophisticated. Way too much that’s said and done in politics seems reducible to about three total instructions:

  1. Find a message or ritual which looks related to your concern
  2. Execute what you found
  3. Return to Step 1

I am not kidding. The confusion of symbols with what they are supposed to represent is so broad and so deep. The dependence upon prefab symbols, messages and rituals is nearly hopeless. Perhaps it should be a separate post, but I observe with dumb amazement, lately, how the hammer-and-sickle is currently flourished as a symbol by: some actual communist parties (e.g. in Portugal) I think, and by very online young people for whom it just seems to mean “rejection of traditional systems,” and by Russian thugs for whom it now means “empire and military strength.”

But, I emphasize, equal confusion is a very mainstream phenomenon at least in this country. The morning after a “leaked draft Supreme Court ruling against abortion rights,” the reactions seem both scripted and so hapless. One might add “now, more than ever” as a comment prefacing step three of the above script, and that would pretty well cover it. Supposed political leadership is online this morning telling people “there’s an election today and it’s more important than ever to vote!”

Of course, if you think about this at all, it’s a primary election with right around zero actual relevance to abortion rights. Are people supposed to vote for Nina Turner because she will be more loudly pro-choice than Shontel Brown? Or are people supposed to pull Republican primary ballots and vote for pro-choice moderates who aren’t even to be found in the Republican Party at this point? Or are people supposed to vote their guesses about “electability?”

This is incoherent foolery.

But if you are completely dependent upon a three-line script—within the context of a badly corrupted cultural operating system where what “looks related to your concern” is frequently misleading at best—then yes you’re almost inevitably going to end up with something like “vote harder than you’ve ever voted before” as your reaction today.

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