Miscellaneous Mental Musings of an Emerging Artist
Some of what I write in here is a response to things that were not spoken in my direction. I do this largely to get the echo out of my head, where all it does is distract me from the thoughts I want and need to be having instead.
Last night somebody at the show walked up to Tim during our cleanup and engaged him in a lengthy discussion about one of his plays, Do You Count Your Own Vote?, a monologue about an impulse he had in 2004 to vote for Bush not out of any support for the president but out of both dissatisfaction with John Kerry and the knowledge that a Bush vote in Illinois was a mere pebble of sand futilely attempting to keep the crashing wave of Democratic votes at bay. Throughout the play, the rest of us hand out ballots and pencils to the audience and they are asked, at the end of the play, to vote for the person they least want to win, just to see what that feels like.
Also throughout the play, the rest of us begin to vocally layer the names “Barack Hussein Obama,” “Saddam Hussein,” and “Osama bin Laden” as a competing white noise. I find the task and staging incredibly effective; the idea that Tim’s voice and opinion have to fight to be heard over the overbearing nonsense of nomenclature that has somehow become more serious than the schoolyard taunting it started out as.
I missed most of the discussion between Tim and the audience member, but had a bit of it related to me later by Tim, and the observation that hammers away at my sensibilities right now, the one that I need to stop dancing its incessant earworm, was that maybe Tim needed to consider whether such speech was “alienating” to conservatives such as the audience member and his friends.
And as an aside, two other friends of mine then pointed out that the Neo-Futurists make a small industry out of the practice of alienating conservatives.
I felt, as I often feel in such moments, the need to apologize for that sort of thing. I don’t attempt to alienate people on principle. It is quite possibly my greatest weakness as a Neo-Futurist.
Stepping back for a second; I feel the need to declare that despite my outspoken and very concrete liberal leanings, I’m not one of those who looks at the current state of the GOP–down in the polls, unpopular across the nation, bleeding cash–and crows about the decimation or utter destruction of the party. I don’t go on about the Inherent Failure of Conservative Thought. I don’t relish the idea of the GOP withering away and disbanding, the same way the Whigs did after Millard Fillmore’s mediocrity destroyed their credibility.
I believe in a multiple-party system. I believe that principled discussion and disagreement is the friction necessary to cause the sparks of inspiration that lead to actual progress. I believe that a car needs both throttle and brake, and that applying too much of one or the other is either a way to get yourself nowhere or get yourself killed.
But I will not, despite my first impulses, apologize if I alienate the strain of conservative that currently holds, with iron-fisted grip, the talking stick that used to be passed around the GOP. I will not apologize to people that turn patriotism into an hockey puck you bat around, I will not apologize to people who can look me in the eye and say “What you want is for terrorists to come over here and take over.”
I have a wife, and a family, and friends and colleagues I care deeply about. How dare you show up on Hannity & Colmes in your neatly pressed suits and crisp white blouses and tell me that, because I disagree with the policies and positions of McCain/Palin, that I would see those loved ones dead and under the yoke of murderous thugs? How do you say these things with a straight face? Either you’re just scoring points in your great game or you actually believe such nonsense, in which case you’re either a craven jerk or just deranged.
Our work alienates you? Your work of the past eight years hasn’t just alienated me, it has attempted to marginalize me. Your work has slandered and libeled me. Your work has lied to my face and then turned to my neighbors and lied about me.
I look forward to the return of the true conservative; I do. I look forward to the rebirth of a movement whose job was to turn to the liberals and say “Slow down. Think about this for a second.” I look forward to the people who used to ask how exactly we’re going to pay for this sort of thing. I look forward to the people that not only said they wanted government out of their personal lives but meant they wanted that for everybody, not just the heterosexuals. I know they’re out there. I’m friends with a few of them.
But these people do not own the Republican Party at the moment. The people who own the Republicans today are privileged brats and con men, are bullies and insecure, power-hungry fools. They are ignorant demagogues, blind to their faults and rabidly attacking any who stray an inch from the reservation. They have lowered the discourse to the level of Visigoths with slightly better sentence construction skills. They are paid handsomely for this corruption and laugh at the rest of us who decided not to embark on such soul-killing enterprise.
This is the Republican Party since Nixon, when the GOP chose to learn the wrong lessons from that man’s ascension and fall…when they latched onto the things that had led Nixon to landslide victories, his talent for treating power as his plaything; and failed to learn anything about the Faustian bargains he made to achieve these skills in the first place. They heard none of Barry Goldwater’s warnings about merging the conservative identity with that of the religious fundamentalists; they ignored Lee Atwater’s rueful deathbed mea culpas about the evils of dishonorable politicking. They readily claim themselves the party of Lincoln and of Christ and then deliver sneering, angry speeches where they ridicule the very qualities–compassion, intellectualism, championship of society’s most downtrodden–that made Lincoln and Christ such great men in the first place.
The GOP is addicted to this identity and if they lose the 2008 elections as profoundly as is currently being predicted it will be in large part because of their inability to kick this addiction–indeed, of their inability to realize that they had a problem at all.
So I will not apologize for telling this current conservative that they cannot sleep on my couch, that they are a bad influence on my children, that they cannot come back until they learn to stop knocking over my possessions or just stealing them to pay for more of their precious junk.
I’m happy to alienate these conservatives. I’m done with them, I really am; I’m done pretending that maybe this brand of conservative deserves a seat at the table and should be allowed equal time to speak its peace. I am done with these spoiled children and I am waiting for the adults to come back.
I am waiting for them to recover.