Sunday, August 6, 2023

We Need A Hero! (Maybe Not)

Maybe what the world needs aren't heroes.

We are in Pennsylvania and it is fascinating to us how we see more rebel flags and Trump signs than we would in rural Georgia.  "Rebel Pride" is past its sell-by date in the South and any politician worth his salt denounces slavery and racism (well, except DeSantis) and people don't look at the "stars and bars" with pride, but shame.

Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania, where tens of thousands of citizens took up arms to defend the union and defeat slavery (and Civil War memorials in every town commemorate their sacrifice) we have modern-day rebels driving around in their pickup trucks with rebel flag stickers and Trump signs.  These are not a majority of the people, of course, and Pennsylvania is an important (and large) "swing state" which is why, perhaps, we see all these signs.  Whether Trump can "swing" Georgia remains to be seen - it went for Biden in 2020.  And no, there was no "election fraud" - please take that bullshit elsewhere.

Some of these folks are the sons and daughters of blue-collar workers,who back in the 1960s had "good union jobs" coughing their lungs out in a coal mine or a steel mill.  Pittsburgh, today, is a clean city and a tech center.  Back when I was a kid, it was a polluted nightmare where you couldn't see across the street on some days.  Times have changed and some folks got left behind.

Not only that, but companies got wise to the unions and did a good job of busting them.  It didn't help any that the unions were corrupt and often drove companies into the ground for fun and profit.  We see this today, with the Teamsters "taking out" Yellow Freight as a favor for United Parcel.  UPS suddenly settles its contract negotiations just as a major competitor declares chapter 7.  Funny how that works.

And by the way, this isn't the first or last time this sort of thing has and will happen.  The "big 3" car makers could afford to settle with the UAW - provided that the UAW destroyed the "independent" carmakers with high costs, low productivity, and low quality.  Even small businesses are not immune. We read a biography entitled "Mr. Alaska" about a fellow who started a (some say "the") tourist business in that State after World War II.  He tried to start a cruise line as well, but the dockyard workers went on strike and his ships were left tied up to the pier.  Meanwhile, one of his wealthier competitors continued to operate.

But I digress.

The point is, these are folks pining for a world that no longer exists and likely won't come back.  And they can't just become computer geeks overnight, either.  They are stuck in a new paradigm and hope to scrape by a living in construction or one of the few remaining (non-union) manufacturing companies.  They see Donald Trump as the hero who will save them and "bring back" the good old days when women knew their place, Blacks said "yes, suh!" and the gays stayed in the closet.  It was the era of Archie Bunker - pre-meathead.

These folks worship Trump, not for who he is, but for what they project onto him.  A large sign (20' x 30') above the gorge into town, proclaims Trump is - and always will be - "for the American people!"  Of course, Trump has and always will be, for Trump.

Trump supporters are mystified as to why anyone would vote for Biden - he isn't a hero at all!  Why would anyone vote for someone with such low charisma?  "How can you be a fan of Biden?" they ask.  And the answer is, of course, no one is a "fan" of Biden.  Rather, they just want someone competent and calm in the Whitehouse - no superhero to save the day, just a reliable Captain at the helm, steering a steady course.

This drives Republicans insane. They are desperate to pin something on Biden to make him look bad.  Trump did so many gaffes and stupid things, it was easy to lampoon him.  But Biden?  Something about ice cream cones (wtf?) and slipping on the wet stairs to Air Force One (something that every President seems to have done since Gerald Ford).  They are desperate to pin "Hunter Biden's Laptop" on the President, but after years of investigation, it isn't even clear it was his laptop, much less that there is anything incriminating on it.

Well, unless you want to believe the innuendo and speculation.  Those are kinds of evidence, Mr. Hutz!

Sadly, most Americans root for their politicians like they are celebrities or sports stars.  They vote for the same candidate as their fellow tribesmen - not based on issues, but on posturing.  And Trump appeals to a certain "shit yea!" kind of mentality that is based on hyper masculinity and mockery and bullying.  Budweiser screwed the pooch with Bud Lite in that any hetero male who was insecure in his own sexuality (which is to say, 90% of men) would feel uneasy ordering it, as their friends would mock and bully them.  Even gays feel self-conscious ordering the beer in a non-gay bar or restaurant.  Who wants to be bullied or mocked?  Of course, Anheuser-Busch still sells the most popular beer in America - Mexican Modelo.  They tuk ur jubs!

The image above is of President Biden drinking from a "Dark Brandon" mug, which has driven the talking heads at Fox News insane.  They created the whole "Let's go Brandon!" meme and now are upset that Democrats have absconded with it.  If you are being bullied by some name-caller, the worst thing you can do is whine about how unfair it is - the bully wins.  But if you can just own the mocking nickname, then they can't touch you.  Ask the fat man they call "tiny" or the tall man they call "stretch" - you are better off just owning these things and letting it roll off your back.  If you act offended by it, they will get even more aggressive about it.

So Democrats pulled a good maneuver here - the whole "Brandon" thing has been defused and mocked, simply by "owning" it rather than complaining about it (as Hillary would have done).  It is sort of like how many on the right adopted the "deplorable" moniker and turned it on its head.

There has been a lot of propaganda on the far-left (paid for and sponsored by the far-right) claiming that Biden is too "centrist" and that compromise and centrism is inherently bad - it is extremes or nothing!  They try to paint Biden as old, infirm, senile (no wait, that's McConnell! or Pelosi!) and ineffective.  But despite his lack of Tweeting talents, he manages to get things done - which Republicans quickly claim credit for - even as they voted against it (such as many of the infrastructure projects that Biden pushed through, with help from both sides of the aisle, but one more than the other).

Maybe that is what we need in government - not superstars or celebrities who tweet a lot.  Ms. AOC or Ms. MTG it makes little difference - they Tweet all day long but rarely if ever, accomplish anything, other than to embarrass themselves.  I guess neither has seen a garbage disposal before, Ms. AOC because she lived in New York City, Ms. MTG because she grew up without shoes.  Same shit, different ghetto.

We don't need a hero.  We don't need grandstanders.  We don't need Tweeters. We need effective politicians!

There is a reason they call Washington, DC, "Hollywood for ugly people!"