On a train from Toronto to Ottawa, imaging us skimming along on rails greased by oily political doings and shenanigans, it’s hard not to wonder how exactly we got here. A crack and booze addled mess of a mayor in name only behind me, a Senate expense scandal ahead, both propped up and propagated by wilful politicians and their ardent supporters who have lost all sense of any moral bearing.
It gets, if not worse, at least more depressingly tawdry.
A felonious former newspaper baron, having already served as an apologist for the Toronto mayor’s bad behaviour in print (and scribe of this fucking beaut: “No sane person could imagine that City Council is a teeming hotbed of Tocquevillian champions of disinterested local government…”), will give the mayor a further platform with a television interview between the two men. Maybe they’ll have a robust discussion about their respective disregard for the law.
A disgraced and criminally charged senator who’s on the periphery of the current Senate scandal has sought press credentials to cover matters of his former colleagues for the recently resurrected on the interwebs satirical magazine, Frank. “Hey, everybody”, the ex-Conservative Senator will write. “Can you believe these guys?”
How do you react to such happenings?
If I were to write all this out in its full gory detail, changing the names to protect the innocent from litigious intent, and slap the claim of fiction on it – “A satirical look at the state of political affairs today!”, a blurb on the back cover would exclaim — you wouldn’t believe it. Not a word. “How gullible does this author believe the reading public to be?” a reviewer will ask, rhetorically. “Such characters do not inhabit the real world,” another might sniff. “Unless you count as the real world, the crude and extreme machinations of reality TV.”
Yet, here we are.
It’s hard to write satire when the world’s become soaked in the stuff.
If memory serves (and when it doesn’t, Wikipedia enhances) satire is best served up with heaps of irony. “In satire,” as I believe Northrop Frye once said, “irony is militant.” I think that’s what I’m getting at but without the full context, who knows?
Satire without irony is just… is just… [clicking back to Wikipedia]… parody or burlesque. But if irony is everywhere, employed by everyone even by many who don’t even realize that’s what they’re doing, a faithful use of it is simply lost. A blade of grass cannot be grassier when it’s part of a larger cause of being a lawn. The whole world’s going irony.
This infliction is the result of, at least politically speaking, and here’s my theory, electing politicians to office who fundamentally don’t believe in the public service role of government. Government isn’t the solution. Government is the problem. There’s no such thing as society. Getting government off our backs.
You see? There’s a fundamental disconnect at work here. A cognitive dissonance. Politicians in power actively pursuing a course of action that diminishes the efficacy of the institution they were elected to oversee.
Of course, they can’t come right out and say that, not in so many words. We still haven’t descended far enough into the nihilist goo to reject outright the belief in the need for government. Yet. Government is a necessary evil, we tell ourselves. Required in small doses. Until it isn’t. Like in the case of natural disasters or illness.
What has the government ever done for us?
We demand our politicians pretend to want to govern judiciously, nobly even. Smash the Mechanisms of Governance is what people chant when they actually want to smash the mechanisms of governance and really have no hope of getting close enough to do it from the inside. Smash the Mechanisms of Governance is what people absolutely don’t say out loud when that’s their real intention and they’re standing right in front of console they’re looking to dismantle piece by piece.
So we elect politicians and parties to government that don’t want to govern and we twist ourselves into mental and moral knots clinging desperately to the illusion that our best interests as a society are being looked out for. Everybody’s doing and saying one thing while pretending we’re intending to do and say the exact opposite. Or something. It’s a twisted old tree of irony we dance around.
And we end up deluding ourselves that the crack smoking mayor has at least saved us a little bit of scratch when all is said and done even though he very likely hasn’t. Or that the wily prime minister hadn’t been dumb enough to stuff the senate, that institution of rotting abscess he promised to reform, with a bunch of dummies who’d soak it for all they could before setting the place on fire in a final act of self-preservation. And the prime minister, convinced of his superb wiliness, carelessly gets involved in trying to sweep the whole matter under the rug, gives a wink and a nod. Somebody cut this guy a cheque, would they.
The irony? By failing colossally and spectacularly, these guys will further undermine our already shaky faith in government, a faith they and their most avid supporters never shared in the first place. Politicians, eh? They’re all the same.
— earnestly submitted by Cityslikr