02 November 2021

Political declaration of independence (reprise)

It's now exactly four months since I declared my independence from obsessing over the minutiae of legislative and electoral politics.  While it's not possible to totally screen out every trace of those things from one's attention, I've managed to do so to the extent that my mental health is noticeably better.

A few other things have happened.

Immediately after putting up that original post in July, I got a large number of supportive e-mails, almost all from readers I had not heard from before, and who as best I could tell were mostly people who read but don't have blogs of their own.  I greatly appreciated these.  My impression is that my exasperation with politics and with the way the blogosphere engages with it is widely shared.

There was, as I expected, a drop in the typical number of page views per week, but it was only around 15% (it's hard to estimate exactly since page views fluctuate a lot from week to week anyway).  I assume this was due to readers who had read my blog mainly for the politics losing interest -- they're entitled to their preferences and there's no shortage of political blogs for them to read.  For me, a big part of the reason for blogging is to attract the attention of like-minded people, and a focus on politics no longer fit that purpose.  The number of page views has been slowly rising since then, as it had been doing for years anyway, and is now pretty much back up to where it was.

Soon after, my disgust with the political scene plumbed new depths with the Taliban take-over of Afghanistan.  An entire country of 33 million people had fallen into the grip of thugs determined to hurl it back into the Dark Ages, with women and girls facing especially grim threats of reversion to virtual slavery -- and most coverage in the US manifested the worst of our country's traditional narcissism, treating a whole foreign land as a mere stage prop or bit player in the game of American politics and assigning blame.  Almost every post or article supposedly focusing on Afghanistan quickly pivoted to "this just goes to show that Biden blah blah Trump blah blah....."  I started spending more time reading the radical-feminist sites which were intensively covering the threat of theocratic misogyny over there.  Those sites' ideology can be exasperating in some areas, but at least their posts about Afghanistan were actually about Afghanistan.

To the extent that I still follow the political media and blogosphere, most of it seems stuck in a deep and narrow rut that it hardly ever tries to see over the sides of.  Major events like the AUKUS deal, the Great Resignation, or the nationwide wave of strikes suggesting a rising new wave of worker militancy and activism, get barely a mention.  Nothing exists except the day-to-day minutiae of legislative maneuvering in Washington, the fluctuating fortunes of politicians in office or running for office, and the flounderings of the failed and crooked ex-president whom we voted out almost a year ago.  It's like reading bulletins from some remote planet.

All fingers point outward, at the other side -- there is no introspection.  No one asks why Democrats lost so many 2020 Senate races where they far outspent their opponents and expected to win, or why women and minorities voted more Republican in 2020 than in 2016.  Right now everyone is baffled about why the governor's race in blue-leaning Virginia is too close to call, yet I've seen hardly any mention in the left-wing blogosphere or the MSM (aside from the NYT's shitty, desperate damage-control editorial) of the Loudoun county school assaults and cover-up and the arrest of a victim's father who called out the school board's bullshit -- crimes which inevitably drew attention to policies the Democratic party has been aggressively pushing.  Again, kudos to those radical-feminist sites which have kept this story front-and-center since it began.  The MSM seemed to imagine that if they themselves didn't mention it, voters in the very state where it happened wouldn't notice such an explosive scandal or be swayed in their voting choices by it.  That's not how the real world works.

(This is, by the way, a good example of why it's impossible to avoid politics entirely, because the social issues I do follow keep intersecting with it.  I've been following the Loudoun scandal closely since it broke, and that eventually led me to reports about the Virginia governor's race, which I had previously hardly been aware of.)

If Youngkin wins, or if McAuliffe wins by a scarily-narrow margin, I predict the activist left will reach for a "top-down" explanation -- the Republicans manipulated and fooled the passive, easily-swayed masses with propaganda about critical race theory or whatever.  They'll ignore the real, "bottom-up" explanation -- voters were giving the Democrats a desperately-needed kick in the teeth for embracing policies dangerous and repulsive to ordinary people.  The wake-up call will be as loud and clear as an air-raid siren and they'll still manage to ignore it, still all lecturing and no listening.  The situation is hopeless.

If there is any hope left, it lies in the grassroots, in the rising energy of the Great Resignation and the growing wave of strikes, and the ongoing cultural changes which politics cannot affect or even understand.  But I see very little evidence that the Democratic party as an institution is interested in engaging with any of this.

And if the activist left is determined to continue sleepwalking, and ignoring anything that doesn't fit the narrative, there's nothing I can do about it -- therefore, there is no reason for me to worry about it, since worrying will not accomplish anything, but merely creates unnecessary stress which I cannot afford.  I've done more than could reasonably have been expected of me to try to wake people up, and mostly just gotten bashed for it.  Enough of that.  I accept that the left internet is going to continue pretty much as it has been, and that the Democratic party will likely do the same, and that there's a very strong chance the Republicans will win in 2022 and 2024, profoundly damaging the country -- and that, again, there's nothing I can do about it, much as I dread it.  I'm in the process of coming to terms with that and focusing on how to manage my personal situation if it does happen.

[Comments closed, it's a rant not a discussion, please respect that and don't post responses in the comment threads of other posts, blah blah blah, you know the drill.]