Wednesday, April 14, 2010


By Ivan G. Goldman

The political forecast is cloudy with a chance of sanity.

Yes, Sarah Palin gathers big crowds and extracts millions of dollars from her tea-party zombies. At the same time an Associated Press poll released this week found that one-third of those surveyed consider themselves tea-party supporters. A New York Times poll released simultaneously said 18 percent of Americans identify themselves as tea-party supporters.

The difference between 18 and 33 percent is huge, statistically speaking. One or both polls must be way off. But the discrepancy is also understandable. Just look at the placards these people produce. Many crowd members are functional crazies, and their answers to questions are liable to change minute to minute. What remains constant is their unreliability and susceptibility to nutty ideas that have little or no factual foundation.

A Massachusetts tea-party chieftain, complaining about high taxes, was recently confronted with the reality that Obama has cut taxes for 95 percent of Americans. How did she react? She said she doesn’t believe it. You can’t change the minds of these people with mere facts. They’re governed by the fear and loathing the late, great Hunter Thompson found in so many corners of our nation.

It’s a little scary to know loonies walk among us and register to vote. They also get elected to Congress. But here’s another statistic worth noting: Demographers say that 2010 will be the tipping point – the first year in which more non-white babies are born in the U.S. than white ones. Just how many non-white faces did you spot at those tea-party rallies? Exactly. A party and a movement that excludes so many Americans is doomed to fail.

Each succeeding generation is less bigoted than the one before. The world is closing in on these jerks. They know it, they feel it, and it makes them crazier.

Now the bad news: The public is poorly educated, and increasingly, so are teachers and journalists. The public is fed more and more news that runs the gamut from sloppy and puerile to downright false. As resources grow scarce, so does good schooling, and the ignorance builds on itself, making the public easier to fool. Goofy slogans crush thoughtful positions.

Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck don’t have three semesters of college between them, and they’re not voracious readers either. They appear to secure their facts through bouts of mysticism that, at least in Limbaugh’s case, are heavily fueled by drug use. They don’t seem to know or care that they don’t know what they’re talking about, and their followers (that includes most of the Republicans in Congress) don’t care either.

The recent Supreme Court ruling allowing corporations to spend as much money as they like on political ads is an ax hanging over the heads of politicians who might otherwise be tempted to do good work. Cross Exxon-Mobil or GlaxoSmithKline and they can come after you in the next election with millions of dollars. That threat alone will help these corporations get what they want at the expense of everyone else. I hope I’m wrong, but I expect, for example, air, water, food, and medicine to grow increasingly dangerous while Congress concentrates on decoy issues like gay marriage, which is really none of its business.

My new political satire Exit Blue (Black Heron Press; 2010) is available online and at better stores everywhere.

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