Take a drag or two

21 08 2013

Nobody cares about you.

I mean this in the worldly sense, that strangers are spending their time following you and wondering about you and seeking to control you. They don’t care. Really.

There are ways to make them care, of course—social media has given us all kinds of ways of turning strangers into people who care at least half a fig about you—but as a general matter, if you’re an American and you go about living your life and not otherwise flinging your words and pictures into cyberspace, nobody who doesn’t already know you is going to care.

It is a healthy indifference.

Now, there is the little matter of the national-security apparatus blindly scooping up every stray electronic bit, and, more pointedly, there are clearly some individuals and groups, designated as threats and treated as criminals-/terrorist-in-waiting who are right to worry about political surveillance.

But the rest of us? No.

This ought to be a relief—how awful to have to carry the interest of millions!—but some folks seems determined to believe that They Are Out To Get Us. This sentiment is currently most strongly expressed on the right side of the spectrum, especially amongst Christians opposed to the incorporation of gay rights into our political culture and Constitutional understandings, but I’d guess the fear of incipient repression could be found among any group which sees its superior status threatened.

To be merely equal is to be oppressed.

Unsurprisingly, this sentiment is oft paired with the conviction of The End Is Near, Boy, Just You Wait. Changes in the culture are not just changes in the culture, but harbingers of the apocalypse. Thus, the only responsible response is to run away before one is dragged off or everything falls away—either of which one just might secretly hope for if only to be proven right.

People like to be right—that famous xkcd cartoon wouldn’t be reproduced so often if it didn’t hit a nerve in so many of us—and we like to be seen to be right. We like to be seen, and we like to be right.

Which is why the idea that nobody is looking for us, and nobody cares if we’re right, is so hard to take—so much so that some would rather believe themselves targets of a police state or living at the end of everything. At least then they know they matter.

I went through my own personal disillusionment a decade or so ago, and while at first it was devastating—pathological neuroses are a remarkably sturdy structure on which to build a disordered life—it was a crucial part of what ultimately allowed me to live in this world. I had to shrug off my anti-hero status in order to have any chance at living as a human being.

I don’t want to be too hard on those who see danger everywhere—I know the pleasures of that kind of sight, and, yes, there are times when one is treated unjustly—but pity does them no favors. If they want to run away from us, they have that right, but they should know we won’t be running after them.

They can Go Galt or take the Benedict Option or flee under whatever other rubric of withdrawal they choose, and the rest of us won’t care.

We’ll just keep living our lives, and trying to care for those who remain in our lives.


You’re on your own now

24 01 2013

I’m not supporting Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Nothing against First Lady/Senator/Secretary Clinton, JD, but I ain’t supporting nobody for 2016 because a) nobody has said he or she is running, and 2) it’s too damned early to think about.

Not that I’m not thinking about it. *Sigh*

If she does run, I’ll take a look, just as I’ll take a look at everyone else with policy proposals within the ballpark of the not-horrible. (A low bar, yes, but one which most Republicans and quite a few Dems haven’t managed to clear in years.)

Still, there is one thing I like very much about Clinton, regardless of any possible candidacy: She just doesn’t give a shit anymore.

I mean this in the best possible way, as a resignation which moves her beyond all of the Washington and pundit horseshit and into the realm of real political action. She has a job to do and she’s going to do it and fuck off to anyone who doesn’t like it or her.

You could see this movement into a kind of pure-practical politics during her reign as Secretary of State. She got along fine with President Obama and served his agenda well, but did so in a way which she clearly shaped. Beyond the Beltway she was free from the sniping about her clothes and her hair and the constant agita about her relationship to her husband and able, simply, to act on behalf of the people and policies which matters to both her and the president.

Pundits suggested she looked best in short hair; she grew it long. She defended the pantsuits for their practicality, then didn’t mention it again. She drank beer and danced with her staffers, and appeared in public at least once without makeup.

That last bit might seem a triviality—and as someone who hasn’t worn makeup in over 20 years, I truly wish it were—but for a sixty-something high-status woman to go face-naked in public is damned-near astonishing.

She doesn’t care.

I was leery of her in the 2008 run, tired of the “Clinton drama” and unsure of her temperament for the office. Yes, she had done good work as a senator, but I still remembered FLOTUS Hillary, and that Hillary was clearly pissed-off at having to perform a role which did not fit. Yes, she chose to marry Bill and to support his run for president, but as someone with her own political ambitions, “First Lady” had to feel like a crummy consolation prize.

And that her husband, with all of his political skills, nonetheless let his indiscipline hobble his chances for real legislative success had to have pricked at her in ways wholly distinct from the wounds of his personal indiscretions.

I don’t think Obama did her any favors in picking her for Secretary of State—he chose her because he thought she could benefit his administration—but he did give her a way to apply her own formidable intelligence and skills in a manner which both served him and freed her.

Oddly, my reconsideration of her began with an Onion article, about her return to the Senate after losing the nomination:

One anonymous Wisconsin senator told reporters that Clinton has been known to deliver a sustained, audible sigh while President ProTempore Robert Byrd calls the meeting to order; frequently votes by letting out an extended belch; repeats the title of every bill in a high-pitched, mocking tone; and, once, after her disruptions caused the former first lady to be escorted out of the Capitol, raised both middle fingers in the air and proposed that the entire Senate go fuck itself.

This was satire, of course, but I nonetheless liked the picture of her saying “fuck it” to the whole shebang, of her not caring what anyone thought anymore.

Fours years later, and she really doesn’t care—not about all of the nonsense that has hemmed her in for most of her adult life. She knows what matters, and fuck everything else.

I like that in a politician.


And yes, if she does run, that Bjork tune will be her theme song, at least on this blog.