Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Great Twitch versus The Great Sleep

Robert Penn Warren talked about two major concepts in his novel All The King's Men. Through the character of Jack Burden, we the reader are introduced to both: The Great Twitch and The Great Sleep.

The Great Twitch is the opposite of The Great Sleep. Whereas the great sleep is used to avoid all responsibility or knowledge of the sinister side of politics and human nature, the great twitch is the knowledge of the fact that humans are no more responsible for anything then any of us are for a random twitch on a stranger's face. It just happens. And knowing this, we can say or rationalize away whatever we do, stating we aren't responsible for anything that may be caused by our actions. That's well and good, friends, but I'm not that cold, callous, and calculating. I have a conscience and lately people have been telling me I ought to rid myself of it from now until November.

You see, I've come to some conclusions in recent days that many of you may have realized years ago. Chalk it up to youthful idealism. Namely, I've come to understand the sad fact that one has to be borderline sociopathic to make it in politics. Even our candidate's campaign isn't immune from this sort of behavior. Obama runs on a ideal based upon hope, kindness, and simple decency, but his inner circle and his top-level political operatives have resorted to some Machiavellian tactics which will progressively strike McCain farther and farther below the belt.

Many of you out there no doubt are wondering how I could make such an obvious statement with a straight face--presenting it as though this is some truism I've stumbled across which is meant to be pithy and profound. It's just politics, you say. Don't tell me you're surprised. What did you expect?

Suffice it to say, I've seen some major nastiness in this Presidential campaign already, and now that the first round of the Obama/McCain bloodsport is underway, the gloves are fully off. This contest is going to get far uglier than I ever dreamed and I may not have the stomach for it. Testicular fortitude aside, one has to be able to sleep at night. I've seen a kind of nastiness already that I know will only grow and swell in stature.

This too is the ugly underbelly of politics. I realize now even more fully that there are people who would sell their own mother down the river for fifty cents if they thought it would pad their egos, their resume, and allow them to leap frog over other people to get a book deal, their name in lights, or the white hot spotlight of the camera eye.

You might say: shelve your ideals, kid, the world is what it is. That may be so, but I've seen this universe of dubious ethical standards, backstabbing, and tit-for-tat and it absolutely sickens me.

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