As many are aware, the ancient Mayans made themselves a calendar. To the dismay of some, the calendar peters out around December 21 of the current year, causing concern one should severely restrict plans beyond the 21st, in particular for activities such as say, living. My question for the Mayans would simply be this: Why must we live through another election year and an intellectually vacant Iowa Republican caucus? What’s so inauspicious about December 21st, 2011, if I may ask?
I have always thought of myself as heavily invested and especially interested in politics, though in the face of saturation coverage of the Iowa caucus maybe not so much. One of the consequences of one of our two major political parties dramatically, and perhaps irredeemably breaking from observable reality is that indifference inevitably settles in. Absent informed dialogue, feasible proposals or any intellectual seriousness just how fascinating could Republican politics actually be? And given the two-party structure of the American political system just how much interest can political competition between the parties finally hold? So along with the other failings and transgressions for which we hold modern Republicanism responsible we must add the desiccation of the intellectual drama attendant to politics.
Of course, as radically and virulently anti-intellectual as the Republican Party continues to be this isn’t an unexpected outcome. I’m as big a fan of novelty, perversity, the carnivalesque and the meretricious as the next product of modernity. But in the case of current Republican politics its banality, commonness, parsimoniousness and petty mendacity drains the fascination otherwise inherent in vulgar spectacle.
One could rightly point out there is a certain frisson in anticipating the potential ascendance to ultimate power in the United Sates by one of these manifestly demented Republican candidates. This is where the Mayans come in again. Locating apocalypse in the interregnum between Republicans achieving and ultimately taking power lends them a lot of credibility in the Calendar and Doom department. Perhaps that is the key to finding interest in these Republican caucuses: Exactly how would these respective candidates give the planet its ultimate and full comeuppance?
In the case of Bachmann, a worldwide epidemic of myocardial infarction surely would move with the speed of light through the human species shortly after the networks called a winner. A planet could be excused for laughing itself to death upon the election of Richard Perry. Newt, Santorum or Paul may pass the official Mayan expiration date but unquestionably would get the job done. In the case of Romney, droid and dangerous fool both, he no doubt would blow the world apart secure in the knowledge that a week from then he could change his mind and simply unblow it.