These people make me really unhappy. I've been trying to write this post for a week, and I cannot seem to get down what it is that is so hateful to me about them. I have touched on this topic here before, most unsuccessfully. Yes, they are sarcastic, condescending, histrionic, tiresomely selective in their historical memory and inveterately ungenerous in their projection of their enemies' motivations and intellectual capacities--so much after the model of their counterparts of the opposite persuasion that has been so effective and demoralizing over a long period that I suppose eventually such a development must have become inevitable--but that in itself is not my real problem with them. My real problem with them is that their contempt is phony and unearned. They may well believe in what they say to an extent, but they can't believe it deeply enough to warrant the attitudes that they affect, because neither their intellectual nor moral development is developed to a point anywhere near the fullness of a serious person. What joy or noble governance can result from the tone of civic discourse being directed by such squalid people, from whichever side of the political spectrum? Any moral adolescent knows, or should know, that the most strident and loyal wings of any political faction that arises in any country, and especially this one as currently constituted, will inevitably be supporting and covering for, even if tacitly, numerous policies that millions of rational and objective people will view, with legitimate reason, as morally horrific. One would think that the realization of this alone might promote a more sober tone of political discourse among the nominally intelligent than what passes currently, but to be honest, that is not actually how the most severely brilliant people seem to think; they believe ferociously in the conclusions that they arrive at, they insist upon them doggedly, and they are impervious to any attempt at contradiction unless it comes from a mind both uniquely glittering and in some way sympathetic to their own, which is an exceedingly rare occurrence.
Obviously I have real problems with some of the issues that to my mind have done more than their part to inspire this ramping up of what I experience as snark and ugliness, the main one being gay marriage, which, while I am politically indifferent enough to it (i.e., I am not motivated to actively oppose it), I also cannot generate any passion or outrage on its behalf. I don't really understand why I can't embrace it wholeheartedly--yes, because I am a fundamentally horrible person, but God knows there are plenty of terrible people who can pretend to be what they know they ought to be--I suspect I will in time, only just now I am irritated that everybody else was able, after being collectively in the dark for thousands of years of recorded history alone on this issue, to transition to a perfect understanding that gay marriage is a civil right that is essentially the same thing as male/female marriage, and get to feel indignant at other people's not doing so, which latter is my real lifelong dream, so quickly, while I was not. I'm just not there yet. And not only am I sort of old, but I have an especially antiquated mindset, points of reference, and so on, compared to most people my age. So coming around to the point where I really feel deep down that this is all as natural and proper as that August follows July is going to require some mental exertion which I don't however think anyone else can do for me; unless they happen to be of a uniquely glittering and sympathetic mind.
One might be tempted to ask why I just don't become a Republican and go revel in hatred with them. For one thing, I am not socialized to be a Republican. I am not comfortable among them, and it is even immediately obvious to them that I am not one of their number, my whiteness and five children and fondness for bad pop music aside. Also I don't share their enthusiasm for a low wage, vastly unequal society with no strong and competently managed public institutions. Unfortunately I seem to be socialized to be a 1940s Democrat, and there aren't too many of these people left, especially that are my age. Due to my background and temperament and my life experience, however, it is pretty much unthinkable for me to become a Republican. And if I were ever to have any kind of social life and friends again, especially living where I do, these friends would almost certainly be staunchly liberal--ideally I suppose I could meet some intelligent and engaging people who adhered to the old custom of steering away from heated political expostulating in social settings, but certain issues have become so important now that many people need some assurance of what your position on them is, tacitly if not explicitly, before they are willing to engage with you.
One last aside, the food snobbery of this class of people I have been raving against is always good for arousing my bile. People might get the idea that I don't like good food, and prefer eating hot dogs on Wonder Bread to something made with art and passion and reverence for earth and the body and the sensation of being alive and all of that. Nothing could be further from the truth, though unfortunately I rarely have the opportunity at this time especially to have this kind of meal. I do think that the obsessiveness some people have about this food, especially when it is accompanied by snobbery, is frequently not maintained within appropriately tasteful bounds. One of the angry rants which set me off on this post in the first place was some (male) wit's disparagement of the awful 1950s--which all reactionaries presumably want to go back to, but only so they can openly practice racism, sexism, homophobia, anti-Semitism, etc, etc (while there is a degree of truth in this of course, people's motivations for such nostalgia are usually a little more complex than merely the desire to express their racism; but that is a topic for another post). After checking off this catalogue of offenses associated with the 50s, which decade the commentator himself had evoked for the purpose of reminding us how awful it was, he added at the end, whether as a joke or a partial joke I could not make out, that by the way, the food was terrible.There are legitimate reasons to feel superior to 1950s suburbanites, I suppose, but doing so because of the way they ate makes you a twerp. And that is all I am going to say about the matter at this time because I want to finish this post.
One of these days I am going to have to purge myself here of the effects of my indoctrination in the cult of Penn State football, which, mild though that was, I still found myself instinctively bristling at some of the harsher castigations and demands for punishment coming from 'outsiders', even though I actually have no connection to the school and I guess they deserve the extreme hatred and contempt that is being directed towards them. But that definitely will have to wait for another day.