Crimes to Be Inflicted Upon Us

Bad policy is never an accident. It's a decision made by politicians who take special interest money to grind their constituents into gravel.

Austerity is a crime that candidates compete with one another to inflict upon us.

They campaign for the right to do it. We grant them that authority when we vote. The spectacle of winning an election sanctifies every horror.

That’s patriotism.

It’s the spectacle that manages the conflict. It draws the battlelines, sets the parameters of legitimacy. It lets you sort yourself into sides and fools you into thinking that’s the known limit of democracy. You pick a champion. You stan.

But because we have no choice now but to stan, I think the Left is too nice to politicians. Stanning is seductive. We want so desperately to believe that there is sanity in the ranks. We need heroes.

The only alternative to this would be to become responsible. The alternative to stanning is knowing for certain that there is no one coming to save us.

Hero worship is dangerous because of how it distracts. It feeds our laziest impulses. With magical thinking, we delude ourselves into the belief that someone smarter and better than us is going to fix the problem. We convince ourselves that someone is handling the crisis better than we could ourselves.

But hero worship is reckless. Just a casual glance back at the past ten years of founder worship in the tech world would show you why. Idealization obscures a leader’s shortcomings and fogs our moral clarity. It’s short-sighted, gratifying in ways that are limited and in fact detrimental to long-term investments and strategy.

Getting attached to any one candidate’s electoral success means losing sight of how bad the game they’re playing really is. You get so swept up in the idea of them winning this time that you forget that the game they’re playing is—plainly—fucked up bullshit.

I think people are really much too nice to politicians. I think it’s exceedingly rare that a truly self-aware and enlightened spirit would be drawn into a game so fucking ridiculous. Candidates lie—a lot. They do not speak truth to power. They do not even speak their own words. They often make themselves puppets by accident, chasing their egos long past the threshold of where their intellect can fend for them. They often end up surrounded by dangerously flawed people for disastrously self-indulgent reasons.

I think people really are much too nice to politicians. After all, these are the people whose job, as they see it, is to keep you from expecting more from the government. Their job is to make socialism seem absurd and universal healthcare seem impossible. They know there are thousands of American families living out their cars, they just don’t care.

If you want to guarantee yourself campaign funding for life, just be a politician brave enough to step in between a voter and an essential human right and lobbyists will pay you whatever you need to keep getting re-elected. Find a group of people getting crushed by capitalism and you’ll likely find some crushing enthusiasts willing to donate to your PAC to keep that crushing going.

Politicians as a class have immunized themselves to criticism. They answer to no one. They are scumbags who sell off the national interest to the highest bidder. And we, in our Sorkinesque naivete, pretend that it's somehow all very civil and good when they shake hands after that nasty business of continually selling us out is over.

At the end of the day, even the best politicians are merely negotiating with the owner class to murder us a little less. Even the best are negotiating with our owners over how cheaply our children can be sold.

So this is an argument in defense of political cynicism and against stanning.

Politicians are scum. All those who would aspire to become politicians should be considered only with the deepest suspicion and the sharpest scrutiny. Do not identify with them. Do not attach yourself to their outcomes. Liberate yourself from the need to stan.

These are not your champions. Remember that the game itself is rigged.