For anyone who caught a glimpse of this last week, you know what I’m talking about. Pure, unhinged, paranoid in-fucking-sanity. Yes, that is a double dare to all those not yet in the loop. Check it out, starting at the 1’12” mark although the warm up act is worth sitting through too.
In the days before our all pervasive high-speed internet and proliferation of cable channels, the kind of crazy on display from Texas Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert was largely restricted to religious revival meetings, street corners and family BBQs where we all had some slightly touched Uncle Louie who, after a few rye and gingers and a pile of potato salad, started spewing forth about the coloureds, UFOs and braless women wearing short shorts. (Deny it as you might.) I remember back in the mid-80s when Morton Downey Jr.’s vitriolic rantings began wafting across Lake Ontario from some Buffalo affiliate station. It was nothing short of shocking and unsettling. We’re really giving airtime now to our crazy Uncle Louies?
Twenty-five years later, Morton Downy Jr. seems tame in comparison, what with the mainstreaming of TV personalities like Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly and the radio behemoth, Rush Limbaugh. And we’re not just making media superstars of this crowd, we’re electing them to public office. Cranks and kooks from forlorn backwaters, striding to within almost a heartbeat of the self-proclaimed most powerful position in the free world.
After watching Gohmert’s video performance last week, I smugly tweeted something to the effect of wanting to travel down to the Texas district he represents to meet those folks who saw fit to elect him. Almost immediately, I rethought my arrogance. Who am I to cast aspersions on other voters when I live in a city that elected Mel Lastman as its mayor twice? Now, just seven years after that unmitigated disaster, the (possible) front runner for the job is perhaps even more unfit for the office and prone to similarly wacky, outlandish outbursts and behaviour.
Take away Gohmert’s dullard suggesting Texas twang and it could be Rob Ford talking. His entirely unsubstantiated council corruption smears last week were no less devoid of rationality and truth than Gohmert’s screeches about terror babies. No iota of evidence was needed. In its place, pure gossipy innuendo.
While the biggest culprit so far in campaigning purely on style and forgoing even so much as a scintilla of substance in order to plug into the resentment vein of the electorate, Ford is hardly alone. Both George Smitherman and Rocco Rossi are running on platforms built on ideologically unstable ether. Cut taxes. Cut wages. Maintain services. Build subways with money from… well, we’ll get back to you on that. Somehow in a way that no one’s ever thought of before, the private sector will swoop in and sort it all out. Just remember, voters, you’re angry at the direction the city’s heading!
Such illogical, visceral appeals to our dark side are all neo-conservative/liberal proponents have anymore since their cause had its brains bashed out on the sidewalk of reality. Reasoned argument is no longer part of the equation because they’ve been pedaling pure bullshit for decades now. All that remains in their arsenal is divisiveness and emotional sorcery.
Which brings us to the federal government’s War on the Long Form Census. When fact and reliable data become your enemies, undercutting your assertions at every turn, there is only one course left to you. Stop trying to ascertain facts and disable the apparatus for collecting reliable data. If you can’t win an argument through reasoned thoughts and rational discourse, why allow anyone else to? Freeing all of us from having to test and prove our beliefs means we’re all on equal footing. All points of view are valid and it’s only a matter of making a smooth, easy-to-understand case.
So who are you, Anderson Cooper, to demand proof of Louie Gohmert about terror babies? And if Rob Ford says that the council he’s been part of for a decade is corrupt to the bone, then anyone arguing to the contrary is obviously a shady dealer. Don’t tell us that building billions of dollars of prisons in this country and doubling up prisoners in cells flies in the face of a declining crime rate. How can you be sure the data’s reliable?
It’s the age of Orwell’s 1984 with a sadly unfunny touch of Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass. We’re right if we say we’re right. You can’t prove otherwise even if, well, you can prove otherwise.
— sure-footedly submitted by Cityslikr