Sunday, July 30, 2017

Something to Believe In

Watching "Leftovers" I had a revelation about the Republicans.
You know how Barack Obama said there are people who cling to their guns and their religion, and like the "deplorables" comment, that was just too close to the bone and it was used to cement the resentment against him, and later against Hillary.

Well, in the episode I saw tonight, Second Season, Laura, has freed herself from a cult formed after the great disappearance of 1/10th of the world's people. The cult embraced nihilism but Laura finally realizes it is possible to do something to confront big problems in life, and she embarks on a program to rehabilitate the nihilists. 

But liberating people from the cult does not solve their problems. Laura has the  epiphany that while she has been able to help people who sought salvation in a cult of nihilism, she had been unable to help them find what they were really seeking in the cult in the first place: Something to believe in.

Nobody knows what to believe about the disappearance, about the departed. And the randomness of the culling is what bothers people. If it could happen to those people, chosen for no apparent reason, just randomly, then it could happen to me. It's the unnerving feeling I had as a new intern on the wards of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital for Cancer and Allied Diseases--all these people, living their lives, not smokers, no apparent reason and then, poof! They're gone, or on their way out, just random, no explanation. 

In "Leftovers" there's a cult which says it's coming for all of us, just stop trying. This is familiar to anyone listening to Republicans: Oh, there's nothing to be done. 

This fleshes out the wonderful song which plays at the opening of every episode in the second season, which says we are all afraid of going back to where we came from before we were born. There's that deep fear we all live with of not knowing how the universe works or our place in it.

And, you know, I think that's what Donnie Dubious offers people. It's why he has that unctuous Lee Greenwood sing that gooey song before his rallies: 
If tomorrow all the things were gone
I'd worked for all my life
And I had to start again
With just my children and my wife
I'd thank my lucky stars
To be living here today
Cause the flag still stands for freedom
And they can't take that away

I could just puke every time I hear that and see the tears streaming down those bloated, stupid faces of the audience.

The song which opens "Leftovers" is haunting.
Some say that they're comin' back in a garden
Bunch of carrots and little sweet peas
I think I'll just let the mystery be
Everybody's wonderin' what and where they they all came from
Everybody's worryin' 'bout where they're gonna go
When the whole thing's done
But no one knows for certain
And so it's all the same to me
I think I'll just let the mystery be

Once upon a time, Democrats said there was something to try. They called it the New Deal. Said it would work, or at least it might work, but as Roosevelt said, it's better to try something, anything, even if it doesn't work, rather than being frozen into inaction by the fear of failure. 
What the Democrats need is that cleansing hug, that something people are looking for.

I don't know, maybe Bernie knows what it is.
Maybe the thing people want to believe in is it is possible to help people at the bottom. Republicans have basically said the same thing since Herbert Hoover: "There's just no helping it." 
They look at health care, pensions, you name it and they say government can't help. 
I heard a Republican Congressman talking about Obamacare and how it was really just a souped up version of Medicaid and well, there are just all those able bodied people out there who want free health care without working for it--as if Medicaid is for slackers.
And I thought, this guy does not understand the Obamacare Medicaid went to working people, to people who had jobs but no health insurance. Private enterprise did not provide the option. Government had to act, and did, finally. 

Maybe we can make people believe that. Government can help.
Oh, I know Reagan and the nine scariest words in the English language: "I'm from the government and I'm here to help."
Very cute. Ronnie could always deliver a good line. Everyone laughed, even some Democrats.
But the fact is, Reagan was offering the ultimate in Republican nihilism: Nobody can help you, certainly not the government. You're on your own. 
But the fact is, when FEMA swoops in after a hurricane, when Social Security saves people from poverty and when Medicare saves the elderly ill, nobody's laughing. 

 FDR said it, four score and seven years ago: when ideology paralyzes politics into frozen inaction, when government ceases to make any effort to save its citizens, then we are staring failure in the face and we must do something.  We must dare to try something new. 
As our problems are new, so we must strive to think anew. 
Anything is preferable to surrender.

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