This election year has revealed the charlatans, the fakers, the posers, and the opportunists for who they are; it is disorienting and saddening to be a person of principle in a sea of milquetoast men and women, who salivate for the brass ring of fame, power, and money. I suppose it has always been so, but to see it – sweating, breathing, up close and personal – to see the madness animate the faces of people you know, to hear people shout their unwillingness to find the truth really has hit home.
Why do people behave that way? Why are they blind and intolerant and unwilling to reason or investigate?
I think it is because for most people, news is not an activity that involves thinking. It is something like a pep rally or a cult chant. They are not evaluating the material, but reacting to something they trust implicitly. They yell their frustration, shout their annoyance, or murmur a “Serves them right!” as a way of feeling like they are participating in politics. However, they are not affecting events at all. It is spectator participation – the way that the cheers from man watching golf on his TV set affects the man playing golf. And because this is ritualistic, because it is done at certain times of the day without fail, it has all the aspects of worship. So what sort of worship is this? Futile and hopeless, one that takes effort and energy to maintain while paralyzing you in place. You will rot in your chair. You will cocoon in your bed. Meanwhile the world continues on, unaffectedly dysfunctional.
Another interesting thing is that people who are in these bubbles do not interact well with those outside the bubble. Thus, people who get their news from TV – any sort of channel – process news differently than those who read. TV is a forced download, a wall-to-wall presentation of sound and shape that prevents escape. You can resist it, but you must mount an active defense. TV epitomizes the old maxim that the faster the feces are flung at you, the more of it looks trustworthy. I’ve found that I know more than TV hosts who spend their time addressing the latest events. Not only that, but I treat events with the seriousness they deserve, and don’t use them as slogans to whip up fervor among my troops. Political hosts cover problems the way that sportscasters cover games — all of the partisan hysterics with no faith or reason. Like sports announcers have favorite teams, so do political pundits. Like the way fans will wear jerseys and buy merchandise and support their team, they do the same with words and slogans. It is rare that you have someone in that position who actually advocates for a coherent set of principles and follows them. What you see instead are mouthbreathers and parasites to one degree or another. They are not to be trusted and not to be believed. Again, this election season has shown us whom among the pundit class has integrity, and who is willing to grant favorable coverage for some set of rewards.