So during a recent bout of perversity, I came across this rant by Rush Limbaugh that seemed to achieve a certain perfect state of douchebaggery, in that it expressed the exact opposite of what is normally considered decent opinion:
If you don't want to listen, I don't blame you. Here is the meat of it, from around 2:30. He is riffing off of Obama and others making the point that people who get rich don't do it all by themeselves:
This is about a bunch of people that don't count, this is about a bunch of people with meaningless, miserable lives, lying to themselves, trying to tell themselves that they matter. So you have Mr Big Business guy, Mr Wealthy…The distortions in the above are pretty easy to spot (if you would like it shredded in some detail, see here, particularly the argument over the origins of the internet which is a perennial personal irritant). But of course reason and truth have very little to do with it. I just want to marvel at its utter perfection of a certain quality – hard to say exactly what, but let's call it the resentment of the priveleged at everybody else. It inverts the normal liberal platitudes of caring for the little guy, of the democratic notion that every person is worthwhile.
well, he couldn't have done it without all of us, we built the roads, we built the regulations, we built the trainsyeah, well if you did all that, why are you sitting there with nothing? If you made it all happen, how come you've got nothing? well the rich business guy stole itThis is such a crock, this is a bunch of meaningless people who know that their lives don't count for anything, trying to matter, coming up with this ridiculous philosophy that says that successful people have not done it on their own, successful people only exist because of the nameless faceless real true hard – you know before Marx there was no such thing as class-driven economics. If that guy was aborted, we'd have a whole different world today.
This man hates this country.
Now, there is in fact something wrong with such liberal platitudes, after all – because we aren't all equal and everyone knows it, but it is not polite to say so. The standards that require us to value all people everywhere just because they are people are (in their naive interpretation, at least) are impossible to meet, and thus everyone is forced to be at least a minor hypocrite. Conservatives chafe under this burden, they thrive on imagined rebellion against their liberal moral overlords. So Rush appears to them as someone who can speak truth to "power", but in such a way as to reinforce the real power of the dominant.
Still, it is a little hard for me to see who exactly is supposed to buy this kind of thing. His audience is not the actually powerful, for the most part. The I've-got-mine-jack and screw-the-little-guy routine would seem to alienate anybody who has to work for someone else for a living, and has even rudimentary intelligence. It must be part of his magic to somehow polish up the resentments of the putzes who listen to him – I'm picturing them as the lower quartile of white working class men, but who knows – and somehow unites them on an emotional level with the resentments of the rich.
This is the core emotional move of the Republican party, and we are fortunate perhaps that they've chosed as their presedential candidate perhaps the person least capable of pulling it off. Romney is almost a caricature of the out-of-touch monied aristocrat, and one who apparently achieved his wealth through a combination of birth and looting. It's a little hard to pose as a job creator after running a bust-out operation that would make Tony Soprano jealous.
Politics involves the social mobilization of emotions, resulting in some of the best and (more commonly) worst that humanity is capable of, empathy and loyalty and resentment and hate. I guess I don't blame those who avoid it entirely, but I don't think that is really an option for a fully functioning person – it pervades our lives, just like economics, whether we want it or not.
So, again I ask myself why I bother with the worst of the worst like Limbaugh. It may indeed be a kind of mental perversion, but perhaps what I am trying to do is invert some of the emotional dynamics of politics. That is, the normal thing for me to do would be to join with other people who I mostly agree (progressives) with and jointly get angry at the people we don't like and talk about how they are ruining the country. This is such a normal mode of small talk, especially in the Bay Area circles I travel in, that it is of almost zero interest to me, even if it builds solidarity and sometimes even leads to action. No, I'd rather read the wingers where I am the object rather than the agent of hatred, resentment, or just dislike. That gives me a little thrill of the forbidden, of darkness, of discomfort. But like any perversion, the minor thrill soon degenerates to a mere mechanical response.