In recent weeks, I’ve done a lot of writing about how random events and experiences in my own life seem to have uncanny parallels with politics. I don’t receive much feedback on these things. Do people care what I have to say? Do I care what people have to say?
No one has told me to quit drawing similarities between my perpetual mundanity and the mundanity of the 24-hour news cycle, so I’ll keep doing it. Try to stop me.
Here’s another question: Were the previous two paragraphs a waste of 81 words? Probably not. See if you can spot the parallels in what follows.
I certainly saw some similarities last weekend. My roommates and I did something a little unusual for normal college students, not that we consider ourselves normal — we hosted a wedding reception. At our house.
I’ll be the first to admit it: we live in a pretty sweet house. Of course, we’re at the limits of our budgets, but that’s beside the point. Months ago, my friend asked if we might consider having the party at our place and I was a bit hesitant. Then, he offered us a modest payday and we were immediately all-in.
Last weekend, the day finally came to pass (Super Bowl Sunday, no less) and we were unexpectedly treated to a microcosm of our country’s social tendencies. Weddings bring out the best and worst in people and alcohol temporarily removes the shame. Luckily for everyone, weddings typically involve alcohol. There was plenty to go around.
Disclaimer: My roommates and I did not participate in consumption of alcohol of any kind, nor would we even consider it. This is due to our respect for the arbitrary number used by our government to determine whether we are fit to consume alcohol and the fact that our ages in years were in fact below that number at press time.
For those who don’t know, I’ll explain what happens when you gather about 25 people in their 20s — many of whom do not know the others — in some college household for a semi-formal event during the Super Bowl, celebrating the union of two people who are below the current widely accepted age for marriage. What, this hasn’t happened to you?
First, the guests arrive and do their best to avoid talking to anyone they don’t know. Individuals and couples cycle between rooms, hoping the next one will be less tense than the last. Once the first brave soul cracks a beer, everyone else follows suit because no one wants to be the only person still uncomfortable in the obvious social gray area.
Eventually, some of the male guests find a shared interest in the game, and they say all the cliché things there are to say about Tom Brady. They get comfortable. They get rowdy. They scream loud enough for the neighbors to call in a noise complaint when the Patriots come back from a 25-point deficit. They have stomachs full of mediocre food and booze. They’re no longer uncomfortable.
For a brief moment, they lose their entire supply of one very important thing: shame.
Things go on in this excruciating fashion until the guests decide they’ve been respectful enough to the bride and groom and begin making up excuses to leave. Then, I leave to study at Kreuzberg because it’s midterm season.
The party showed me that politicians are more like wedding guests these days than ever before. Chicken and fish are still on the menu as always, but shame is not. There’s no other explanation for the relentless tide of blatant ethical violations, idiotic rhetoric and straight-up falsehood that defines the current conservative presence in government.
Though our democracy has never been truly representative, past generations of politicians seemed more concerned with upholding the ideals of voters, or at least with pretending to in the interest of reelection if nothing else. But now President Trump and his cronies don’t hesitate to move forward with spectacularly unpopular policies based on spectacular lies.
It’s not just the Trump administration; now that the Republican Party is properly intoxicated by its majorities in Congress, Senate and The White House, the GOP is quickly beginning to scream at TVs and generally not give a shit what anyone else thinks.
This isn’t about partisan politics as much as it is a mocking of the preferences of American citizens. They’re going to roll back Wall Street regulation, build the Dakota Access Pipeline and discriminate against Muslims from every country except the ones important for business interests. These are ethical violations and obviously not what most
Anyone who knows anything can see that these types of policies are meant to benefit a few specific people at the expense of millions. This is nothing new in American politics. What’s new is that now the politicians behind the policies are not making the smallest attempt at veiling their intentions. In the past, Americans had to look closely to figure out when they were getting screwed over. Now it’s right in front of our faces laid out by unashamed white men in suits.
It could be a positive thing that such injustices are finally in the open, but it’s going to take a lot more civil unrest to break through the insulation separating public opinion from shameless public servant. The challenges and systemic problems are numerous. I would elaborate, but I can’t stay because I have this thing I have to do.
Really, thanks for having me, I had a good time. Congratulations, by the way.