Culture Shock, Future Shock

Gripping the New York Times this morning and recovering from sweaty nightmares I can’t remember, I read that Mitt Romney made the commencement speech at Liberty University and I subsequently felt what it is to be an exile. Pandering to evangelical voters concerned about his adherence to “traditional values” (and what an empty pile of kitsch those words signify!), Romney essentially assured them that his Mormonism wouldn’t prevent him from carrying out God’s work, and evangelicals apparently bought it. However, I haven’t a clue how they did so because I can’t so much as fathom their paradigms, I can’t reasonably picture myself in their position, wearing their worldview, and try to see their side of the story. Academia which wholeheartedly teaches young-earth creationism is just so far off the radar from everything I see as good and true that I can’t even mull over its precepts. I guess this is what everyone’s calling the polarization of America: it’s no wonder all we liberals do is mock the right, what else are we to do? How do you find sociopolitical common ground with someone who denies everything you hold as obvious and real? Yeah, there are people like Richard Dawkins out there penning books, but who reads them and who really cares? For every reasoned argument, the reactionary fundamentalist has a response; the thing is, they’re arguing based on a paradigm (literalist scripture) which simply doesn’t apply to their interlocutors (us).

Ok, so they’re all out of control and they’re driving this country into the ground, but this still doesn’t solve their problem: they’re out there saying the same thing about us. Birthers think President Obama is an illegitimate president, a socialist, a fascist, and possibly the Antichrist himself all in one; they think that we’re the problem just as we think they are. It’s not cut and dry where the lines are drawn, but this is starting to look a whole lot like Spain in the 30s, and you can just read For Whom the Bell Tolls to be reminded how awful that whole thing was. And Franco won.

Or maybe not; maybe it’s more like a marriage that’s falling apart but neither husband nor wife wants to admit it outright. Rep. Allen West recently said that 80% of US Congress Democrats are Communists (sheesh, I wish!) and that President Obama’s scared to debate him. Well, I’d be shying away from that discussion as well; I just wouldn’t know where to start. Better to keep going to work, coming home late, and hope this sexless, impotent, overweight hell of a marriage rolls over.

 

The attached image shows state voting records in presidential elections: true blue is Democrat in the last four elections, rogue red is Republican, &c. Point is, it’s pretty easy for me to tell where my America ends and where the terrifying America, where a transgender individual’s life might be in danger while walking down the street, begins. And this division is itself pretty unsettling… what does it say about politics where elections are PR battlefields, where commentary is reduced to snide comments about those others (hey! just like this article right here), where opinions are formed by meaningless catchphrases like “values” repeated like mantras until they’re—get this—devalued into utter nothing?

I’d hate to sound like a Broadway Prophet© hollering that the end is near (though The Book of Mormon, capitalizing on recent interests in the sect, seems to have been quite a hit!), because the degradation of Western values is what they always moan and tear their cloaks about. Might it be, perhaps, that reactionary right is causing the collapse of Western civilization which it so decries? It might, though they’re probably saying the same thing about us.

And we’re right back where we started. Now everybody…