Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Maybe you can, but man, I hope you can't.

'Kay, I'm drunk enough now to poke my head out of my current pseudo-retirement from political blogging, but I've just sat through Obama's speech and I just have a few quick things I'd like to go on record as having said.

First of all, I've resigned myself to this election being one of three heartbreaks for me: first, Doug Stanhope's dropping out of the race several months ago; second, Ron Paul's brutal trouncing tonight; and third, whichever one of these aggressive interventionists ends up wielding the most powerful military force in human history in November.

Believe me, I'm well aware how absurd my position must seem to everyone else. It goes beyond rooting for the underdog. It's not rooting for the Giants: it's more like, say, rooting for the Twins during the Superbowl.

A while back, Bill posted Obama's speech The Great Need of the Hour in an enthusiastic display of support. I would, if I may, like to point at this speech as being symptomatic of exactly why I'm incapable of supporting him. In this speech, he is the author of a concept known as an "empathy deficit"; I am the author of the essay Empathy is the Enemy. I maintain my original position: as a guide for individual behavior, empathy is a powerful and beautiful force; as a guide for designing a monolithic Federal government, nightmarish.

Barack and his supporters talk enthusiastically of wide-eyed idealism, of overcoming the negative impact of cynicism in our politics. I am, unapologetically, a cynic, a skeptic -- to the point that I have placed the desire to question at the center of every play I've ever written, every vote I've ever cast, at the center of my entire existence. Seeing a roomful of people chanting "Yes we can" in unison is not an inspiring image to me -- rather, it's one of the most chilling that I can imagine. As I watch the candidates of both major parties preaching varying degrees of collectivism, I find myself wondering whether I would be one of the first to be "reformed" by their new regime.

Am I paranoid? Yeah, maybe. But I look at the remaining field of candidates, and for a non-interventionist, my heart can only sink. On the right, I see a community of people who want to wield American military might in the Middle East like a game of Whack-a-Mole, swinging wildly at everything they see, planting permanent bases in every country with an oil interest and spreading democracy at the point of a sword. On the left, I see a community of people embedding our country deeper and deeper still into ever more elaborate systems of entangling alliances. Who the hell am I supposed to vote for? How the hell am I not supposed to be a cynic?

And once again I'm a Catholic schoolboy, glancing about me in despair, marveling at the capacity for faith of everyone around me, at the ability to surrender completely to an ideology. But I can't, I just can't, no matter how appealing the idea is to me.

Because I'm a cynic.


Lee said...


Mr. Stanhope just introduced me to "Voltaire's Angry Glove".

I suppose I'll see you at his show unless you manage to call me or get your bum over to drink one'a these nights, cap'n!

Anonymous said...

without cynicism there would be no such thing as change. of course, without unity there would be no such thing as change. however powerless, there are a lot of people who think that the government really needs to step back, and i've talked to a lot of people who think otherwise only because they haven't heard my opinions yet. >:) so there is hope, albeit small... probably not for this election, hell probably not for this government. but long before there are actions there are ideas.