These days, many a rational, honest, informed and competent individual will find himself or herself struggling both to explain and to counter what appears to be nothing short of a national derangement in the political realm: a reality so sideways, upside down and otherwise alternative to the reality with which we have been accustomed it simply confounds. The theory here is that to a large extent this all but fantastical and bizarre quality of what passes for conventional political discourse now, is so profound and unbelievable it simply shocks those who will hear it into a condition of involuntary reticence, having no idea where even to begin, so stunned is one by the manifestly deep intellectual unsoundness and plain dishonesty.
The challenge of addressing that which is mathematically, economically, scientifically or historically upside down, or attempting to correct it can be staggering for no other reason that it is so vastly contrary to rationality, or to what heretofore has been mathematical, economic, scientific or historical verity.
Michelle Bachman openly advocates national default, the new supposed Republican presidential heavyweight Rick Perry mentions almost off-handedly in an interview that he believes Social Security and Medicare are unconstitutional, and offers as substantiation words so conspicuously incoherent and dishonest as to shock the reasonably reasonable and intelligent; Herman Cain claims communities retain the full right to ban a mosque from their localities, and these absurdities fall into the public square as such simple, ordinary utterances an eye is barely blinked. The punditocracy and the Washington press and media elite have no stronger reaction than a discreet yawn.
Barack Obama, whom we now recognize as an utterly conventional politician, temperamentally placid and ideologically mild, and if nothing else politically malleable, regularly and commonly is described by prominent members of the right as a socialist or a Nazi, or as un-American. A United States senator, Jim Demint said ever so casually yesterday in an interview that Obama is the most un-American president in his own lifetime. This claim that the president is un-American is inevitably stated with casualness now, as it is casually received, and casually reported, so commonly is it uttered among Republican politicians and right wing activists as to be the quintessential dog bites man story. The constant implication or insinuation in the rhetoric of Republicans that the other political party is illegitimate, might perhaps be noted with surprise or simply noted in MSNBC prime time, but otherwise is not noted at all, that which in earlier times surely would have seemed both frighteningly extreme, and for lack of a better word, un-American.
For many in the reality-based community however, finding a response is daunting, which, though it doesn’t excuse the insidious complacency of the political press, does explain why it seems only to slowly and sporadically take shape. It’s the sheer magnitude of the ignorance and the sheer magnitude of the required explanation that is so daunting. It very much resembles answering a confidently declared statement that the sun revolves around the earth or perhaps that the sun rises in the west, the need of explanation for something so basic, accepted, proven and valid beyond dispute is flummoxing. And this would be the inherent advantage of those making these preposterous claims and vast lies: they shock through their brazenness and casualness, and numb critical parties into recalcitrance.
And of course these extreme and factually unfounded, and historically unsound or outright irrational ideas are mainstream in the fullest sense in the world that most Republicans inhabit most of the time, as sealed in as they are dominated by a political and media apparatus in which every sort of fallacy, historical revision, scientific or economic counter-fact is repeated incessantly and almost literally becomes gospel. Many millions of Americans have heard these pronouncements made so regularly, and uttered with such unfailing conviction in this vacuum of unconditional acceptance in which they are never challenged, or even questioned, rightists indeed are full of certitude themselves, unassailable by any form of dissuasion or evidentiary correction.
Media has effectively muzzled itself with its adherence to the strikingly dubious convention known as “appearance of balance”. An outlet may daintily and occasionally identify a statement as non -factual, but will never forthrightly say the obvious and true, which is that not only are the statements, but those making them surely unsound, that which is being said brazenly false, the speakers and their words radical beyond any previously accepted pale. Failure to identify these extremities for what they are becomes tacit acceptance, the irresponsible fully infiltrated into the mainstream, extreme ideology become the norm, all of it simply sinking into and settling into the zeitgeist as perfectly ordinary.
So the lack of shock has become shocking to us, which surely is to the great advantage of the shock troops, whether it is by design on their part or simply good fortune to encounter the all too easy indifference and blithe negligence of those who in the past would as a matter of course confront them. If the shock troops openly refute the scientifically basic and indisputable, such as human evolution or human-caused global warming, why should their willful blindness to the major role of their policies in the nation’s financial collapse, the blithe hypocrisy of decrying debt after failing to complain during the Republican rule largely responsible for its creation, be any more surprising?
One can’t help but believe this process of the radical becoming the normal, the fringe becoming the mainstream is how populations awake one day to find themselves governed by the manifestly horrendous, the harsh and the cruel, what was previously unthinkable now literally the law of the land.