Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Welcome to the Post-Reason World


The sun spills across the horizon like blood leaking from a wound. A man emerges from a pickup truck and marches toward the polls. He doesn't look like you, probably, but he looks a lot like me. He prunes trees for a living, removing the overgrown branches for a reasonable sum. One time he had a Mexican guy work for him, and though he worked hard, he fired him after a while because he was an illegal immigrant. His girlfriend is always complaining about some lesbian waitress at work that takes all of her hours. His dad once had a rental property in Cincinnati, and it took some maneuvering to evict a black couple who had stopped paying rent. Half of his friends are addicted to heroin. The town that he lives in is populated by the walking dead--the unemployed, the unambitious, the purposely obtuse.

He's walking toward the polls because his America sucks, and he wants to make it great again.

It doesn't matter that the candidate he's voting for is dangerously unqualified for the office of President of the United States. He doesn't read the news much, and when he does, he gets it from social media, from people very similar to himself. He trusts his grandma any day over some college-educated journalist who lives in the city. The conventional media doesn't report much on people like himself. All they talk about is black people being shot by the cops or how bad women have it. Most of the cops he knows are pretty good people, and his relationship with women is complicated. His first job was cleaning tables, and his manager was a woman, and it was hard to take orders from her. Society used to afford white men certain privileges, and now women, minorities, and homosexuals are getting all the perks, or at least that's what his Facebook feeds tells him.

Democracy is a reckless, powerful thing. It puts power in the hands of individuals, who cannot possibly know what it is like to run a country of 300 million people. To obtain this power, all one must do is register. You are not required to know anything about policy or the global economy. You are not even required to understand how government works. So many of us look for a panacea, a simple fix to all of our complex problems. The thing is, complex problems do not have simple answers. When so little is asked of us, is it no wonder that we elected a demagogue? We believe that we each live in our own little insular worlds, but that's not how things are. It's too easy to forsake reason, because reason is not prized by most of us. We are emotional creatures prone to tribalism. Reason is just a side-effect of our supposed intelligence.

Idiocracy was a good movie, but I never wanted to live in it.

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