Saturday, November 07, 2015

When the Lunatics Run the Asylum

Many years ago (early 1973 to be exact) I read an essay by Susan Sontag that I remember to this day. Susan had gone out to watch a movie. At some point she realized that many, even a majority, of the people in the theater with her that night had voted for Richard Nixon. It was an inconceivable concept that was also undoubtedly true.

It was a couple of months after Nixon had won reelection by a huge majority. A majority so large supporters were considering repealing the 22nd Amendment so Nixon could be President in perpetuity. The country was full of Nixon voters and people like Songtag and me couldn't wrap our minds around the bizarreness of that fact.
The fact that Ben Carson and Donald Trump combined have the support of half the Republican electorate is similarly baffling. Yes, I know a substantial percentage of Republican voters have brains the consistency of tapioca pudding, but even during the madness of the 2012 primary season lunatic Michele Bachmann peaked at just 16%. While Herman Cain has a brief sojourn at the top of the polls nobody thought he might actually get nominated.

Things are different today. There are really just five people at this point with a chance at the nomination. The only one with a resume (Bush) is hated by his party's base. A rookie Senator (Cruz) is hated by his party's elites. The guy with the best chance, another rookie Senator (Rubio), may be a childlike toady but at least nobody hates him.

Then we have two men who have commanding leads over everyone but each other. Carson is a straight up loon with a world view so distorted it would be unbelievable as fiction. Trump thinks knowledge is a dangerous thing so he refuses any association with it. In the latest FOX poll, Rubio, Bush, and Cruz combined have less support than Trump. If it were not for Carson he'd be running away with the nomination.
The lunatic asylum of Bedlam
I live in a conservative enclave of Southern California that once elected to the state legislature a man who ran on an anti-witchcraft platform and we have a megachurch just a few miles up the road. I know I must have neighbors who are enthusiastic supporters of Carson or Trump. And that terrifies me. I have long ago accepted that I am surrounded by Republicans but this, this is too much.

I don't understand it and I don't want to understand it. Understanding it leads to madness.

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