Reply all: The greatest delusion in American politics
Carlos Basurto | Friday, December 2, 2022
There is something uniquely shallow about the way we have begun engaging in debate and it is particularly vexing for any person in possession of their complete senses.
Go ahead, I dare you to take one look at the political articles that have been published in Viewpoint preceding and following the midterm elections. In the event that you have been spared of their content, allow me to surmise it all in but one word: static. Absolute gray noise that has somehow deluded many into believing that these are grand statements of ultimate might and authority, of a completely original realization that will tear down reality as we know it. But when all is said and done, naught will take place as a direct result.
On one hand, we have the Republicans being as psychotic as ever. This comes to the surprise of literally no one — they have been at it for quite a while now. As I watched the debate between the College Democrats and College Republicans, I found myself incredulous at the arguments coming from the conservatives. No, calling them arguments would be an insult to debate rhetoric, for these snide remarks sought only to instill fear, ignored logic and lacked but an ounce of empathy. I refuse to believe that anyone that has full awareness of what these words mean would follow them. Be it irrational hatred born out of paranoia or an induced ignorance, it is inexcusable. We can stop pretending there is a debate, a point or even a single iota of integrity in these talking points inflated with the most obvious nationalism, transphobia and the dislocation of religion to fit the ever-moving goalpost that they disguise as “family or traditional values.” I understand we want to hear out all perspectives, but when the perspective in question literally believes that an entire subsection of humanity is inferior, why — God, why? — do we even choose to hear them out? Democracy does not die on the ballot (by then it has already perished), it dies when we allow a disfigured sense of tolerance to blind us into believing that these people would play by the rules of the game.
That is not to spare the response from the less-bloodthirsty side of the community. I am baffled at the complete and utter emptiness that these declarations of condemnation have. Seriously? You are talking about morality and safety to those who reject intellectualism, that either lie about or somehow genuinely believe that children are being taught to hate white people in schools, or that immigrants are inherently violent? You think that they will listen that hate has no place here and go, “Oh dear, oh my, I am so terribly sorry! I shall change my ways now that I have successfully been called out!” Unreasonable people sadly lie out of reach of words.
And of course, because this has happened a million times before and will happen many more until the lesson is learned, the Republicans addressed none of the points when replying to these condemnations and just focused on talking of the topic of abortion to gain holy points from the easily impressed of the community, twisting the words to narrow down the response to a singular point and throw around playground insults to the other side. Why? Oh, what a great mystery! Because their beliefs are inherently based on hatred: a hatred that we all know and are fully aware of, but they can’t say out loud because then even their level of doublethink could not shield them from realizing the evil root of their actions. Their supporters won’t realize how ignorant and empty their reply was; they have long since stopped caring about common sense, rather preferring to reside in a perpetual echo chamber where their contradicting beliefs of justice can coexist. For they certainly can’t in the real world. Of course, my words won’t convince them, either, but we all know that, and we are equally aware of this as we engage in this so-called debate.
For they never sought to have a conversation, they merely wish to shout their hateful rhetoric as loud as they can under a desperate desire to feel grand and protected, to defend their selfish interests at the cost of everyone else because they have been deluded enough to believe this is an act worth feeling proud about, rather than ashamed. And yet, you do something similar. You virtue-call their every action, tell the world that they are very wrong, by the way, in case you were not aware, and while you are certainly right, what is your end goal? Who are you trying to convince? Certainly not them, and most of the community has picked a side before a single word was exchanged. Of course, something must be said; to allow them to control the narrative would be madness. But these empty words might as well be a drop of water in a forest fire. The Kafkaesque, hyper-bureaucratic methods of debate work against change. They do not help create democracy — they smother it.
A particular shame should befall the elitist, ever-enlightened centrists that “call out both sides.” How impressive of thee, to not soil your hands with the fools and with all disagree. You are a very intelligent person. Nay, to take a kindergarten “let’s listen to both sides” approach or that “both sides are the same” is such a childish, narrow-minded perspective that only nurtures a sense of superiority. Truthfully, I am not a fan of a great amount of the Democrats, either; plenty of them have demonstrated their selfish interests that do not reflect the popular will (simply glance at our healthcare or transportation system, at the blind and endless support for pointless wars, at the lack of protections for labor unions and immigrants, at the way lobbying has the final say in many of the governmental decisions, among others). Yet at the very least, they will pretend to care and not actively seek to advocate for the death of me or my friends for the crime of being born — though, of course, they will never say this last part out loud, even if they mean it wholeheartedly. It is not that complicated to pick the lesser of two evils, believe it or not. I, as many others, am not content with our options, and it is evidence of how broken our democracy is; we merely wait for a better option to become available once our generation starts obtaining positions of power. Yet, in the meantime, centrism is simply not the answer: It is an evasion mechanic, a blindfold to wear. Although I guess being a centrist is still not as embarrassing as being a libertarian.
We must say the quiet part out loud: We must strip this dull and foolish game of its flowery embellishments that contribute naught but aesthetics. It goes without saying that there is clear nuance on both sides — not everyone falls on party lines — but I am tired of pretending; I am tired of playing this surprised character when we all follow the script that we were given; I am tired of clapping and crying when the most apparent and glaring statements are spoken; I am tired of blinding myself and all of those around me.
To you all vexing vermin, shame on you. As for the others, congratulations. We are winning: just take one look at the absence of this fabled Red Wave. Ultimately, the hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people. They are scared, as they realize they play a losing game and lash out, but come on. We can do better. Before typing out your argument, before shouting into the void, realize where and how your energy should be spent and stop playing the part of an empty puppet — change the world for the better.
Carlos A. Basurto is a first-year at Notre Dame ready to delve into his philosophy major with the hopes of adding the burden of a Computer Science major on top of that. When not busy you can find him consuming yet another 3+ hour-long analysis video of a show he has yet to watch or masochistically completing every achievement from a variety of video games. Now with the power to channel his least insane ideas, feel free to talk about them via email at [email protected] (he is, tragically, very fond of speaking further about anything at all).
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.