Tuesday, November 06, 2007
The Politics of Panic
(click to enlarge)
The above cartoon underscores my point.
I've taken time out to address a matter I've seen all over the place. Such behavior is evident both in liberal circles and in conservative circles, though each side takes great pains to blame the other for its own sins. Liberals see the imminent rise of Fascism in the form of George the Worst and his gang of neo-thugs. Conservatives fear a Democratic president in 2008 will institute policies that rival the excesses of the Bolsheviks.
These are hyperbolic times, but we cannot afford to resort to cheap theatrics in the process. Yes, I understand the temptation to make a big stink of things in the hopes it will rouse people out of their collective stupor. However, such behavior often backfires.
We humans love to be entertained. A flair for the dramatic lives within most of us. As regards attention from fellow beings some of us, as O.Henry so cleverly put it, take the form of outfielders, and some of us pick them off the bat instead.
Likewise, this flair for the dramatic has some fine old company throughout history. Eschatology appeals to that mad prophet in the wilderness in all of us. We are all Howard Beales and John the Baptists, to some degree or another. At least we think we are, anyway.