American comedian Louis C.K. performs an excellent stand-up routine entitled “Of course, but maybe...” It’s about how all we sensible people, of course, know what is right and what we ought to think concerning a range of issues, yet we still cannot fully reject the exact opposite, irrational, amoral, politically incorrect wrong:
“Of course children who have nut allergies need to be protected. Of course we have to segregate their food from nuts, have their medication available at all times, and anyone who manufactures or serves food needs to be aware of deadly nut allergies. Of course...but maybe...maybe if touching a nut kills you, you’re supposed to die.”
Louis C.K., like any comedian with self-respect, obviously likes to provoke. But provocation is only really effective if there is a grain of truth to it — all real devil’s advocates know this.
Now, of course, this piece is about the upcoming potential humiliation of modern Western democracy (read: U.S. Election) and not a campaign to let children with nut allergies die. However, I do think that Louis C.K.’s joke tells us something about ourselves and our mentality as we anticipate the impending freak show on the other side of the pond.
David Plouffe, Obama’s 2008 campaign manager, coined a very useful term to describe the nail-biters, those sitting open-jawed and shaking, endlessly scouring the internet for more polls: we are bed-wetters.
Tirelessly we read internet articles, status updates, and tweets reaffirming everything we already know, yet we get no satisfaction from pouring over these same articles again and again. The endless stream of new polls proclaiming minor and major changes in the opinions of the American electorate doesn’t translate into an image of real people changing their minds about real issues. Does an increased lead for Hillary make us feel better? “Yes! Of course, of course,” we reply. “The other guy is a sexist, racist, fascist, (insert any other kind of negative “-ist” and you’d probably be right) madman.” Still, a firm belief in Hillary’s coming victory doesn’t exactly put me at ease, and so maybe...
Maybe a part of us – if only a tiny sliver – always wants the ship to hit the iceberg. We anticipate the frozen death of Leonardo DiCaprio with equal doses of horror and amazement because, after having dedicated months and months to this contest, what could be more titanic than the ultimate horror of Donald Trump winning? But of course we quickly return to our senses; we don’t want that monster to win anything! If anything we want him to crash and burn — not democracy. And with that we heave a sigh of relief as we skim the latest poll, confirming what we already know, taking a sip of water, crawling into bed and trying to block out the traitorous sparks of disappointment in the dark corners of our minds.
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