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Kevin Spacey as Frank Underwood in Netflix's House of Cards
I've always been fascinated by the 1950s and 60s depiction of Space Age optimism. Since I wasn't alive at the time, I have no idea as to whether it's an accurate portrayal of the cultural zeitgeist, or just a layer of marketing plus a rose-colored nostalgic remembrance of things past. But in design and technological aspiration, there seemed to be positive feelings about the future. As a culture, we've always had problems and inequalities, but we built things in hope of a "Great Society," and dreamed of things that may never be. We built roads, we built bridges, we built towers that stretched into the clouds, and rockets that went to the Moon. And people imagined days in which we would live in domed cities here on Earth and in outer space, wear silver jumpsuits, drive flying cars, and everything would be nuclear powered.

However, things didn't turn out exactly as planned. Next year will be 2015, and still no hoverboards and Nike isn't making shoes with power laces. Whatever optimism that may have existed in the culture so many years ago, has given way to a significant amount of cynicism and distrust. All of those dreams of tomorrow are too expensive or too hard to even imagine anymore. And it's a cynicism that's pervasive throughout society about both public and private institutions. In 1958, 73 percent of the public said they trusted the federal government to do what's right. Last year, that number was 19 percent. Part of it is the continued rhetoric of right-wing conservatives who've been running against, and trying to defund government programs, for the past 40+ years. But it's also a feeling held by some on the left, just in a different way. While they trust government with health care and regulation, they are also deeply suspicious about the NSA, drones, corporate influence, and even the ability of the United States to use "soft power" to influence on the international stage.

When I was thinking about a topic for this week's column, I wondered about how the depiction of government in pop culture plays into this calculus? Usually in most movies and television shows, government is depicted as inept, inefficient or corrupt. So does that feed into those feelings of cynicism and erode a belief in government among the public? Or is it just a reflection of what already exists?

Continue below the fold for more.

"The way people in democracies think of the government as something different from themselves is a real handicap. And, of course, sometimes the government confirms their opinion." Lewis Mumford
Over at The Nation, Greg Marx once wrote an article about research that suggests the way the press covers politics and government erodes belief in public institutions. The way politics is reported in most mainstream outlets is like a sporting event. The coverage is about process (i.e. what is the strategy or the motivation) instead of covering the ins and outs of different topics. Think about it this way, when was the last time, after a policy speech by the president or any major candidate, the reporter covering it actually discussed the policy (e.g. minimum wage, health care, etc.) instead of speculating about what the policy "means" in a political context? Therefore, the theory goes, news coverage is inherently cynical about every institution, diminishes expectations about government, and implies everyone is a self-serving bastard, which plays right into the Republican message about government.

Now sidestep a little to the fictional, entertainment side of things. Almost every modern depiction of politics is overwhelmingly negative, and the view of government not much better. Government agents in movies and TV are either corrupt, inept, or part of a global conspiracy to take over the world. The main character might be the one "good" government worker fighting the system. If the lead character is a child fighting the system, government workers will inevitably show up to make his/her life a living hell. Child social workers can never see true love, and will invariably rip kids away from loving parents. If aliens are planning an invasion of Earth, the government will be inept in its response or cover up the truth. If an alien lands to say hello to humanity, the government will try to kill it, experiment on it, or fuck up the alien's plan to help humanity. And if a kid is trying to help an alien, the government will try to fuck that up too. Recently, Jason Lynch at the A.V. Club had a piece asking, "Where did all the inspiring TV politicians go?" Almost all of the current fictional TV politicians are either murderers, adulterers or buffoons. Some might say that's a reflection of the public's exasperation with the current state of real-life politics.

However, it's been argued the general cynicism that people have, and that's reflected in pop culture, is an outgrowth of a loss of faith in government from Watergate, the Kennedy assassination, the Vietnam era, etc., that's only grown with time. And you definitely see it in the immediate aftermath of those events with the skepticism and paranoia of 70s films. For example:

  • The Candidate - An idealistic candidate is slowly corrupted by a desire to win, as his campaign transitions more and more from stark policy choices to appearances and mealy-mouthed phrases like "five-point programs" that mean nothing.
  • The Parallax View - The movie was released a month before the House Judiciary Committee voted for articles of impeachment against President Nixon. The most memorable scene in the film is an assassin training montage that uses random historical images to convey a sinister message.
  • Three Days of the Condor - The original novel had drug trafficking as the purpose of the internal conspiracy. After the 1973 energy crisis, the filmmakers decided to use oil instead. James Grady, the author of the novel, agreed that this was a better and more plausible purpose ... fast forward some years to the Iran-Contra scandal.
  • Capricorn One - When NASA's first manned mission to Mars encounters technical issues, instead of canceling the flight, the powers that be instead decide to fake the landing (ala the Moon Hoax conspiracy theories). The New York Times review of the movie claimed "Watergate may not have inspired Capricorn One, but it made its thesis more acceptable [and] its plot more credible."

To be fair, there has always been a certain amount of skepticism about politics in artistic representations of it. When we think of films of the past depicting politics, idealistic stories like Frank Capra's Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, back before the Republicans ruined the filibuster. The political world in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is a rather dark one, since the United States Senate is more or less in the pocket of special interests, but the story is one where good triumphs through virtue.
"No, sir, I will not yield! And this same man, Mr. James Taylor, came down here and offered me a seat in this Senate for the next 20 years if I voted for a dam that he knew, and I knew, was a fraud. But if I dared to open my mouth against that dam, he promised to break me in two."
But one important factor about films of that era was the Hays Code, which conditioned how grim the depictions could be. Even so, movies like All the King's Men and Otto Preminger's Advise & Consent offer thinly veiled dark, dramatic depictions of real-life politics. And even though the United States Senate website as well as the author Allen Drury denied it, the story for Advise & Consent is based on actual events and the characters are stand-ins for real historical figures, with the main story being based on the Alger Hiss hearings, McCarthyism, and the events surrounding the suicide of Wyoming Sen. Lester C. Hunt, who killed himself in the Capitol after being blackmailed over his son's homosexuality.

Like Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, there are positive depictions of politics and government. Both The West Wing and its spiritual predecessor The American President proceed from an idealistic, Capraesque vision of American politics that believes in the positive aspects of government and more importantly the positive aspects of people in government. Juli Weiner once penned an article at Vanity Fair in which she argued Aaron Sorkin had been influential in shaping the current generation of public servants. In Sorkin's political universe, most of those in government are good public servants who are trying to do their best to make a difference. Those with principles are victorious over those who spread half-truths and distortions. And all that is necessary for the best political policy to carry the day, no matter how controversial it might be, is the guts to say what you mean and mean what you say.

"Let Bartlet be Bartlet."
"Our leaders, government people are [usually] portrayed either as dolts or as Machiavellian somehow. The characters in this show are neither. They are flawed, to be sure, because you need characters in drama to have flaws. But they, all of them, have set aside probably more lucrative lives for public service. They are dedicated not just to this president, but to doing good, rather than doing well. The show is kind of a valentine to public service. It celebrates our institutions. It celebrates education often. These characters are very well educated, and while sometimes playfully snobby about it, there is, in all of them, a love of learning and appreciation of education." —Aaron Sorkin
However, Capra and Sorkin's version of politics does not always track with real-world politics. "Good" and right do not always win in the end, lies and distortions can work all too well, and "how" something is said or done can be judged to be just as important, if not more important, than what is actually said.

David Simon's critically acclaimed The Wire took a much darker view of institutions and the people involved in politics. The main issue at the heart of the show is the futility and destructiveness of the War on Drugs. But the show is also deeply cynical about government and its ability to affect change and be changed. Over the course of the show, every institution, whether it be local or state government, labor unions, the public school district, the police department, or even the Baltimore Sun, are in some way corrupt or incompetent, and fail in their stated goals. And the "good" people who come into those institutions, with ideas and hope of changing things for the better, are either corrupted or ultimately crushed by the weight of the system.

"I am wholly pessimistic about American society. I believe that The Wire is a show about the end of the American empire. I believe that we all—or our kids—are going to live that event. And how we end up at the end of it and where we end up and whether or not we can survive it on what terms is going to be the only question from now on. The great conceit of The Wire [is that] every single moment on this planet from here on out human beings are worth less, human beings have lost some of their value." —David Simon
  • Netflix's House of Cards, an adaption of the BBC miniseries of the same name that starred Ian Richardson, depicts politics as a chess game with disposable and usable pieces. Kevin Spacey's Frank Underwood sets out on a quest of vengeance after being slighted, and destroys lives and fortunes as he accumulates power.
  • Both George Clooney's The Ides of March (an adaption of Beau Willimon's play Farragut North) and Mike Nichols' Primary Colors (based on Joe Klein's novel of the same name) depict the corruption of young political aides as they sacrifice their ideals for career advancement and the lesser of evils.
“This is a man’s world we live in. Because of the axis of dick.”
  • Armando Iannucci's Veep, like its British sister-show The Thick of It, argue public policy is not born out of good ideas, but is a product which results from spinning the bad ideas that didn't play well. The words under the image of Julia Louis-Dreyfus' Vice President Selina Meyer above are said by the character after she is felt up by the husband of the prime minister of Finland. Selina comes off as "What if Sarah Palin was a Democrat from Maryland?" But in the second season, they've also given her some good aspects where you can see how she got to this position in politics in the first place. Also, similar to the situation The Thick of It, there's a balance between Selina fucking things up, and Selina trying her best and having the media twist events to something beyond her control. Veep is at its best when the absurdity of the situations hit a little too close to home of the reality. But still, almost every character in both shows is either inept or corrupt.
  • I've written about Shonda Rhimes' Scandal in a previous review. The depiction of American politics in the show is both soap opera-ish and probably the darkest of any TV series. Scandal exists in a universe where it seems like every conspiracy theory may be true, and every rumor you've ever heard about a politician is probably true or much worse than is believed. The president of the United States is a murderer who was installed through a rigged election, his Sarah Palin-esque vice president seems to have murdered her husband, the first lady was raped by her father-in-law, the president's Democratic opponent in the last election killed his wife's lover in cold blood, and a super-secret spy agency that no one knows about and answers to no authority (not even the president) kills and imprisons with impunity. Critics have noted that within the show "no American institution—not governmental or corporate—has your best interests at heart, and human relationships are a kind of beautiful addiction, irresistible in the moment but spiraling outward to infect all they touch."
"Make no mistake. If we unleash our military power on nations that later prove innocent, it will rank as one of the most despicable sneak attacks in history. Any chance for peace in the Middle East will vanish forever. Even if it costs American lives in the future, we must delay the attack until we are certain of our ground."
  • FOX's 24 is thought of by some as a conservative-leaning show and a product of the Bush era because of its depiction of torture. However, it's interesting to note that the only positive depiction of a politician in the show's history was Democratic President David Palmer (Dennis Haysbert), and one of the show's major villains was Republican President Charles Logan (Gregory Itzin). The depiction of the American government though is one that is bureaucratic, corrupt, filled with moles for different interests, and willing to sell out Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) at every chance. But, also of note, is that the ultimate causes and sources of each season's terrorist attacks were usually based on left-wing concerns, such as corporate influence.
  • Like 24, Showtime's Homeland is set in a universe where the United States government is a bureaucratic nightmare more concerned about political position than efficient results. The Vice President (Jamie Sheridan) is a Dick Cheney-ish career oportunist whose orders killed 82 children, leading an administration that doesn't really give a shit about anyone, not even the people that work for it.
  • Arguably, the most positive depiction on television is NBC's Parks and Recreation. Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) is a neurotic pollyanna, but she's a dreamer that cares about people and wants to make a difference. And even though the show portrays the public as largely ignorant, the people of Pawnee, Indiana actually give a shit about their community. They show up to public hearings and city council, even if it's to show up and say crazy shit.

Originally posted to 医生的宫殿 on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 01:18 PM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (31+ / 0-)

    When Air Force One was released, Rush Limbaugh complained the film was a Hollywood conspiracy to propagandize the Presidency. And since the President at the time was President Clinton, it was EVIL.

    From the A.V. Club: 22 truly badass pop-culture presidents

    With Air Force One, director Wolfgang Petersen and star Harrison Ford answered a question that had haunted moviegoers since the summer of 1988: What if John McClane was elected president of the United States? Granted, Ford’s commander-in-chief bears little physical resemblance to Bruce Willis’ squinty, smirking beat cop in Die Hard, and he doesn’t supply a steady string of bemused one-liners. But his methods are vintage McClane: Once Kazakh terrorists seize control of the titular aircraft mid-flight, taking the first lady and first daughter hostage, President James Marshall puts his military training to good use, creeping around in the shadows of the plane, making contact with the authorities at ground level, and engaging in hand-to-hand combat with the very Hans Gruber-like villain (Gary Oldman, during his ’90s-supervillain stage). Later, Marshall even dramatically zip-lines to safety. Giving new meaning to the expression “tough on terror,” the guy is the improbably ass-kicking POTUS both political parties only wish they could snag for their ticket. And as far as catchphrases go, “Get off my plane!” is about as great as “Yippee ki-yay, motherfucker!”
  •  i didn't see it in a theater (13+ / 0-)

    but when the capitol building is blown up by space aliens in independence day, people supposedly cheered.

    a long time ago, someone also pointed to attack ads (which is relevant, because advertising is the pulse and life blood of pop culture), and wondered how people would feel about flying, if all the airlines mostly ran ads about how often the other airlines crashed, or were late, or lost baggage, or that they had no leg room, or lousy food, etc.

    The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

    by Laurence Lewis on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 01:39:31 PM PST

    •  Well, Laurence Lewis, (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Aunt Pat, Laurence Lewis, jck, Tortmaster

      the republicans controlled congress. ;-)

      1996: Senate Majority: Republican Party; House Majority: Republican Party

      The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it.― Neil deGrasse Tyson

      by maggiejean on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 07:15:22 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I did see Indy Day in a theatre, and it was the (6+ / 0-)

      ugliest and scariest movie-going experience I've ever had.  People cheered not only at the white house being blown up, but at all the cities being blown up--it was a straight-up anti-urban as well as anti-government movie, sort of survivalist porn, with the president as a good guy only bc he's a gritty action hero and we're left with just a tattered remnant of society for him to lead into the brighter day.  I think some post-apocalypse movies have been great, but most apocalypse movies are IMO just evangelical-survivalist porn, thinly disguised or otherwise.

      •  Not sure they were really cheering against Govt. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

            Of course, since I didn't see it in the theater as you did, I can't judge your subjective impressions as right or wrong.

             But it seems to me that in those types of movies, people are simply cheering for general DESTRUCTION, not for the destruction of any particular institution.  It's sort of like the way people cheer whenever Godzilla destroys Tokyo.  It's not that people particularly HATE Tokyo, it's just that watching things getting blown up is so much FUN.  

             One thing that does surprise me a bit is that the appetite for fictional urban and global destruction did NOT abate after 9/11.  In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, networks and studios were scrambling to cancel, rewrite, or postpone movies and TV shows that dealt with collapsing or exploding buildings, hijacked airplanes, or terrorist attacks.  One might have expected that after people saw the type of scenario they had only seen previously in movies play out in real life on September 11, 2001, once they witnessed such horrible death and destruction as a reality, they would no longer have a taste for it in their entertainment.  

             But if anything, it seems like the appetite for mass destruction in entertainment has only INCREASED.  

             The television series 24 kept raising the stakes every season with more death and destruction, culminating in the detonation of  a nuclear bomb in a California city.  I think the series only had one more season after that...there just wasn't anywhere else to go with the destruction, unless they escalated to absurdities like SINKING an entire state such as California or Florida.

             In the movie world, we've also seen plenty of films that depict the horrors of nuclear terrorism.  I think the Sum of All Fears came out just a year or two after 9/11, and there have been plenty of similar movies since then.  A recent example is Star Trek: Into Darkness, in which the villain is defeated only AFTER crashing a ship into San Francisco and causing massive civilian casualties.  

             It was taken as a given by the 20th Century movie audiences watching the Terminator and Terminator 2, that the heroes would succeed in PREVENTING the destruction of the world.  But apparently the 21st Century audiences for Terminator 3 and Terminator: Salvation are ready to accept a global holocaust as an inevitability which might as well be a source of entertainment.  The convention of action movies throughout the 20th Century was that the hero ultimately saves the day and PREVENTS the bomb from going off, PREVENTS the city from being destroyed.  But in 21st Century action movies, it is becoming increasingly common for the hero to FAIL to prevent the catastrophe, and can only deal with the aftermath and perhaps prevent an even BIGGER catastrophe.  

              It does seem a bit counter-intuitive that in the post-9/11 world, our escapist entertainment does NOT offer an escape from the horrors we experienced on that day, but instead seems to revel in those horrors, perpetually raising the stakes, perpetually re-imagining new and more violent ways that innocent people can die on a massive scale, new and more terrible ways that entire cities, even our entire world, can be destroyed.  


        •  An interesting point (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Part of it, of course, stems from better and better CGI which makes destroying cities easier and more graphic, but I'm still kind of bothered by movies like Into Darkness or The Avengers where huge amounts of urban destruction occur without any seeming concern.

          Hige sceal þe heardra, heorte þe cenre, mod sceal þe mare, þe ure mægen lytlað

          by milkbone on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 08:52:44 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Great points and examples. I've actually delved a (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          bit into (Japanese) research on the whole Godzilla thing, some of which suggests that the Godzilla movies were actually a way for the Japanese people post-WWII to process, to collectively deal with, the truly unthinkable trauma of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, not to mention the firebombing destruction of every other major city in the country.  If there's anything to that, then it's possible we see a bit of it here in the post-9/11 stuff, paradoxical as that seems.  

          But I still think that most of the show-me-the-apocalypse stuff is just survivalist porn...

  •  Seven Days in May (15+ / 0-)

    A rather grim vision of a military willing to stage a coup to depose a president it believes is too soft.

    •  Amendment XXV (8+ / 0-)

      Sections 3 and 4 of the 25th Amendment are popular among TV writers and authors of political thrillers.

      • Section 3 allows the President to temporarily transfer his/her powers to the next in line of succession whenever the President determines he/she is unable to discharge the duties of the office. This section has been invoked, but so far only when a President has been undergoing some sort of medical procedure.
      • Section 4 has never been invoked, but is far more interesting. It allows the Vice President and a majority of the cabinet to transfer the powers of the Presidency to the Vice President, if the Vice President and a majority of the cabinet send a letter to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House declaring the President unfit. If the President resists the charges, a trial takes place in Congress & the President is removed if 2/3rds of both the House & Senate agree with the VP & the cabinet.

      In the 1994 remake of Seven Days In May, the Vice President was a co-conspirator in the military coup, and Section 4 of the 25th Amendment was the means by which the conspiracy was going to remove the President.

    •  awesome flick (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Being based on a novel helped, but the cast and screenplay were top notch I thought.

      I'm not liberal. I'm actually just anti-evil, OK? - Elon James White

      by Satya1 on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 08:10:46 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Great essay, Dr RJ! nt (8+ / 0-)

    There is no depth to education without art.- Amiri Baraka. RIP

    by Free Jazz at High Noon on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 02:09:23 PM PST

  •  pessimism in the name of realism (8+ / 0-)

    You're looking at a trend in culture that dates to World War I: the death of Enlightenment rationalism, Victorian optimism, and the belief in human nobility (not necessarily the same thing as morality), especially as it pertains to the Serious Business of life - war, politics, economics, etc.  This trend has only gained strength as the 20th Century lurched from crisis to crisis: the Depression, WWII and the Holocaust, the Cold War, the Sixties, Reagan/Thatcher, etc. and has found fertile soil in the 21st Century thanks to 9/11, W, and the economic crisis.  The looming catastrophe of global warming/climate change only deepens the despair for those who pay attention.  Add what I would argue to be the normalization of deconstruction in art and philosophy - where every ideal or structure must be ruthlessly examined and shown for what it really is no matter how ugly and/or stupid it really is (especially if it's important) - and you have an atmosphere where it's simply easier for us to attribute low motives (money and power) to people's actions and through them the agendas of institutions, all eventually blowing up in a massive shitstorm of evil and/or incompetence and then just ends totally unresolved like The Sopranos.

    Nobody would take Mr. Smith Goes to Washington seriously anymore; it'd be a nostalgia trip with a heavy dose of what TVtropes calls "narm" - something meant to be serious that just ends up silly.

    The usual response to this kind of bleakness is to grow hard and coarse to protect oneself and to embrace pleasure where it can be found, scoffing at the lone knight riding off to face the dragon as just a fool with too much time, money, and ego on his hands.  As civilization fails, people are going to become animals.

    Domestic politics is the continuation of civil war by other means.

    by Visceral on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 02:33:50 PM PST

    •  Well,ok, or--Enlightenment rationalism & Victorian (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tortmaster, unfangus

      optimism were just blips in a much longer history of dark realism and cynicism re politics.  I give you Dante's Inferno and Machiavelli's The Prince as just a couple of well-known data points--that's without going back further to Greek and Roman historians (as opposed to idealists like Plato, but we can read the reality of Athenian politics even in The Republic).  And Machiavelli was writing in the midst of the frikkin Renaissance, when humanism was at least being fitfully invented.  Full-on Enlightenment humanism (and rationalism) was radical in its time, ie not at all common-sense, and the Victorian belief in "progress" (ie the idea that human affairs will simply tend to get better and better, because reason, science, etc) really lasted about 60 years as a widespread belief in a few very 'advanced' societies until it was, as you say, blown away by WWI (and then the remnants crushed into dust by WWII).

      Weirdly, in fact, the 20th century was both extremely hard on political idealism and unusually promoting of it, depending on who and were you were.  But other than arguing for an (even) broader historical frame than you do, I agree w/most of what you have here except maybe your use of "deconstruction", when really I think you just mean analysis :-)  Or are you really blaming contemporary political cynicism on Derrida?

      •  you're right (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        We're pretty much back to the ancient Greeks, not only in terms of the belief in human weakness and wickedness and the belief in the world being dominated by forces we barely understand and cannot hope to control, but also in terms of the faltering of the belief that better is possible, whether through our own actions or through those of a higher power.  We wallow in the depravity - even to mock and condemn it - that earlier generations would have simply banished from our collective sight and we do that because it's "real".  It gets to the point where people can only develop an ever more sophisticated understanding of the problem and numb themselves to gawking at it 24/7, because the notion that it can be fixed is dismissed as so much wishful thinking of people who just want to climb back into the womb or something.  Faced with the proverbial abyss, we dove right in rather than finding a way to fly the way the philosophes or the Victorian technocrats wanted to, and then congratulated ourselves on how hard and brave we were.

        I blame Derrida only for making it cool to poke holes in ideas, myths, value systems, etc. in and of itself, which is what deconstruction tends to turn into once it's trickled down a couple levels.  Understanding the true origins and purpose of our worldview and how we embody it in our works is one thing - a powerful tool for making us smarter and more effective - but in practice you get a lot of Holden Caulfield-esque "critical theory" types who only seem motivated to label everything we think, say, and do as evil and stupid.  OK, so it's all evil and stupid; do you have any better ideas?  Like the ones you just exploded as childish fantasies?

        For example, late 20th Century architecture had a phase that was often referred to as "deconstructivism" - a pun on both deconstruction and an early 20th Century phase dubbed 'Constructivism' that it bore a superficial similarity to.  Like deconstruction, it was meant to be a ruthless and penetrating examination of why we build what we build with the goal of freeing us to create wholly original forms and uses truly suited to the here and now.  But at the end of the day, it degraded into simple idol-smashing: a deliberate attempt to build things that were incomprehensible and even ugly and awkward to use, because beauty and function and social context came to be seen as little soul-prisons that people were putting themselves in, denying themselves the ability to find meaning and value in the full range of experiences: negative as well as positive.  It really didn't help when people started arguing that it was more important to find meaning and value in negative experiences because that's what the future was going to be.

        Domestic politics is the continuation of civil war by other means.

        by Visceral on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 09:51:46 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I knew Derrida--Derrida was a friend of mine.... (0+ / 0-)

          Senator...  no, kidding, I just met him a few times when he came for guest lectures at Cornell.  Really nice guy, actually. But the Cornell folks were still very much at the level where they understood what deconstruction was and wasn't trying to do, and I'd extend that to most of the academic humanities at schools where anyone had any business fiddling with sophisticated hermeneutics of reading.  At levels beyond that, I'd say Derrida and de Man are pretty much off the hook; and to the extent that the term deconstruction becomes equivalent with simple idol-smashing...well, that sounds more like a more generalized cultural post-modernism, of a kind that's also at some considerable remove from what architects originally intended by that term; but we've already lost 99% of potential readers here, so really your general point stands as a cultural observation about our need for, and commodification of, wall-to-wall cynicism.  

          Kind of interesting echoes of the debate between the actual Russian Constructivists and the dadaists.   I'd say if anything we're a commodified-dada culture...  

  •  Cynicism is in the best interests of the elite (13+ / 0-)

    Who will fight for change when no one believes in a better world?

    None are so hopelessly enslaved, as those who falsely believe they are free. The truth has been kept from the depth of their minds by masters who rule them with lies. -Johann von Goethe

    by gjohnsit on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 07:07:44 PM PST

  •  I think your intro is brilliant. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tortmaster, Doctor RJ

    This comment illuminated me to the fact that you are actually looking at metadata:

    When I was thinking about a topic for this week's column, I wondered about how the depiction of government in pop culture plays into this calculus? Usually in most movies and television shows, government is depicted as inept, inefficient or corrupt. So does that feed into those feelings of cynicism and erode a belief in government among the public? Or is it just a reflection of what already exists?
    Does perception equal reality.

    House of Cards was breathtaking.

    “The Internet is the first thing that humanity has built that humanity doesn't understand, the largest experiment in anarchy that we have ever had.” ― Eric Schmidt

    by Pluto on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 07:22:43 PM PST

  •  The cynicism is earned (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    stevemb, gffish

    Sorry, I don't think people distrust the government because of negative portrayals in the media. I think they distrust the government because it's done so much to earn that distrust.

    There are plenty of negative portrayals of the military in the media, yet the military as an institution manages to remain reasonably well thought of.

    Generally people have become more distrustful of institutions in general -- church, state, corporate, media. For the most part that distrust has been earned because our institutions are not healthy. Power and privilege are eroding public confidence, not movie villains.

    I think media portrayals succeed to the extent they tap into the public mood, not create it.

  •  I was alive then (8+ / 0-)

    I was a teenager in the 60s.

    It was a terrified but also optimistic time. The nuclear sword was over our heads, but we shall overcome.

    There was JFK and MLK, but then they both were killed. Incredible highs and horrible lows.

    I was a sophomore at Georgetown when I saw the Capitol dome through the flames as downtown DC burned. That was the year Bill Clinton's class had no graduation.

    I would say that by 1968, we'd lost our innocence. The fear began to turn systemic.

    Try "The Best Man," play by Gore Vidal, made into a movie.

    What I have seen in my life is a deliberate destruction of the American post-war economic system (middle class) and a poisoning of our trust in our institutions and system of government. One nasty step at a time.

  •  I used to wonder if politics actually are (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    p gorden lippy, Tortmaster, unfangus

    worse than in the past or if it somehow manages to always seem to be getting worse but never actually does. Then I discovered Mark Twain and realized that politics are as they have always been.

    But politics are also cyclical...

    "...So the world might be mended"

    by Cofcos on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 07:43:59 PM PST

  •  bury my heart at wounded knee, vietnam, mlk, jfk, (3+ / 0-)

    rfk, mX.

    US history is a shadow show of optimism in the face of misery and unspeakable cruelty.

    trail of tears. treaties torn to shreds over and over. president jackson, injun killer. and did I mention slavery and the century and a half of vile racism that followed its abolition? and invasion after invasion of latin america? and kidnapping thousands of chinese to build the railroads? andrew carnegie going salmon fishing in scotland while pinkertons killed steel workers at his mills. money has always talked and still does.

    but, the statue of liberty, and everyone deserves a chance. the four freedoms. a system of government that allowed for power to change hands without someone having to die. think of that one again a few times, and realize what an incredible invention it is.

    but there is a palpable sense of outrage fatigue, too. one can only hope that a next generation will come along with the sense not to throw away the good with the bad. if we can outflank the religious onslaught against learning, and the money onslaught against the middle class, and the political class onslaught against open government. we have a republic - maybe - if we can keep it.

    Fear is the mind-killer - Frank Herbert, Dune

    by p gorden lippy on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 07:44:47 PM PST

    •  Wonderful comment, p gorden lippy! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RandomNonviolence, bartcopfan

      I agree with the wonder with which you view this:

      "... a system of government that allowed for power to change hands without someone having to die. think of that one again a few times, and realize what an incredible invention it is."
      I do think of it often. George Washington could have been King, and, instead, he gave us something unimaginable at the time. That's why he's my all-time hero.

      Rand Paul is to civil liberties as the Disney Channel is to subtle and nuanced acting. On biblical prophesy: If you play the bible backwards, it says, "Paul is dead."

      by Tortmaster on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 03:24:40 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I was around-- (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gffish, unfangus

    --in the 50s and 60s. It was a glorious time; imperfect, to be sure, but we were an intelligent nation, a civil nation, a can-do nation. You could go anywhere without fear of getting your head blown off. One salary could pay all the bills and put enough away for a family vacation and Junior's college fund. Corporations tried to make their products better and less expensive. And we had Sinatra, not Bieber. This is why I feel so angry lately--because I know what this country used to be like, and the America we live in now is almost nothing like that. As Hartley wrote in "The Go-Between," the past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.

    •  Cadavra, Your Depiction Is Limited (3+ / 0-)

      Corruption has always been a huge stress inside government.  The 50s destroyed people like Lenny Bruce and it left a huge number of women in desperate financial ruin through divorce, death, or abandonment.  What was genuinely different for white people was that factory owners, small business owners and citizens were largely local and had skin in the community game  If there were local problems, you knew to whom to speak.  When I had no money and wanted to buy a house, I called the president of a savings institution who was a member of my church and we made a date to discuss it.  He was the person who made the decision about whether or not I would get the loan and his savings and loan would hold the mortgage.  The decision was not run through a nationally determined algorithm.  If my payments became sloppy, I'd get a phone call.  

      That's a very different community environment than one where all big decisions are made outside the community.  For us, it was a comparatively speaking, idyllic.  For minority communities, not so much.  It was an excellent way to grow up and I wish we could have made the changes necessary o be as fair to everyone.  Because we didn't, we destroyed our ability to maintain that life.  

      Newt 2012. Sociopath, adulterer, hypocrite, Republican.

      by tikkun on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 08:16:13 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  It was the best of times, it was the worst (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Tortmaster, RandomNonviolence

        of times. There's a lot of cynicism and distrust of government in the 50s and 60s - Mort Sahl or the Beat generation on the left, Goldwater and the John Birch Society (started by the Koch brothers father) on the right.

        You can find cynicism in Capra - State of the Union or Meet John Doe instead of Mr. Smith. You can find it in political novels by people like Knebel (Seven Days in May), Burdick (The Ugly American) or Condon (The Manchurian Candidate) or Greene (The Quiet American) - a lot of those were made into films.

        On balance there's probably more cynicism now, but my daughter's generation - mid-20s - seems to have a higher ratio of optimism to cynicism than my generation (boomers) has now. And it's always a ratio - Dickens' opening lines apply to any era.

        No matter how cynical you become, it's never enough to keep up - Lily Tomlin

        by badger on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 10:07:33 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'm a just one year pre-boomer (0+ / 0-)

          I'm still optimistic because I was well educated by my family to understand a different notion of success than winning at money.  But my family had learned that lesson at least five generations earlier.  Adequate money is part of the mix but it's not a primary part of the mix.  Community is, so we put our selves in places where community is easy to build or even a requirement. Its amazing how good community also stretches a fairly modest income.  My husband and I are still living a pretty idyllic life.  

          Newt 2012. Sociopath, adulterer, hypocrite, Republican.

          by tikkun on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 06:20:48 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  I'm Well Aware... (0+ / 0-)

        of the downsides of that era, hence the phrase "imperfect, to be sure." Hell, I got beaten up a few times for the sin of being Jewish. But I'd go back there in a heartbeat if it meant living in a world where a Coke commercial could air without hundreds of crazy people screaming hateful nonsense or the government, however corrupt, still made sure to help out what we now call the 99%.

  •  There was that optimism in the '50s (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    offgrid, Tortmaster

    and '60s (having lived it) due to Ike building Super Highways and JFK sending us to the moon.  Even as we were riding crappy ten year old city buses to Jr. High in those days there was the sense that the next 20, 30 years - the next generation - was going to be HUUUGE!  And Modern.  The difference between 1960 and 1965 was a generation - or two - just in those 5 years.  From Ricky Nelson and Leave it to Beaver to the Rolling Stones and Space launches, astronauts circling the globe! Just like THAT!
    Practically overnight.  I went from playing Andy Williams' "Moon River" on my trumpet in 1963 to learning how to play "Satisfaction" on my cousin's beat up acoustic guitar in 1965.
    I think the excitement ended when we quit reaching for the stars and instead built that butt-ugly Shuttle taking us to some orbiting half-assed "space station."  Orbiting space station?  Seriously?  What happened to Mars?  And Disco didn't help.
    Fortunately we now have Elon!  And High Speed Rail!  And new shiny Space Vehicles!  So, there IS hope of some resurgence thanks to Game Changers like Elon!  I wish them luck!  I'm again optimistic.

  •  Cynicism is easier to sell and fill seats (5+ / 0-)

    The type of people who go out and take action are not the type of people who are willing to pay money to sit around for a couple hours in a darkened room. Thus, you make more money selling cynicism in movies and TV.

    Perhaps that's a cynical business model analysis?

    As to your question about the space age optimism, i was barely out of diapers when Sputnik went up. Amidst the Red Scare paranoia, suddenly there was extra money available to fund schools for math and science.

    My friends and I greatly benefitted from those extra funds. The idea of (little white boys, who would have thought of girls doing anything?) becoming scientists, engineers, or astronauts were lauded. Dreaming of becoming a rocket scientist or aerodynamic engineer was encouraged. Even the dreams of severely myopic little boys becoming test pilots and astronauts were encouraged, despite the fact one needed perfect vision to be allowed to sit in any seat on a military aircraft unless you were merely cargo.

    If you lived in the more enlightened communities a mix of races, religions and ethnic heritage were permitted as long as you pursued meritocracy.

    In contrast, while celebrities and "industrialists" were admired they weren't the be-all and end-all of society. the

    Over 5 decades later I'm an inventor, serial entrepreneur in Silicon Valley in a number of technologies including life science, unapologetic liberal. I dislike dystopian movies and other media that promotes cynicism as an excuse to do nothing.

    Why is voter turnout in the US so low? It's cheap to promote cynicism. "Why bother to vote?" That was the meme promoted by Paul Weyrich who realized the GOP lost when voter turnout was high.

    Watching Pete Seeger's American Masters biography I realized how few people in modern American culture are positive and focused on doing something positive. "Enable every American citizen to vote? "We shall overcome," says Pete. Clean up the river of PCBs so my kid can swim in the river?  "My Hudson River will once again run clear," sings Pete.

  •  as we're talking about the media, messaging (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lotlizard, RandomNonviolence

    and government in film, how is it we left out one of the best ever?

    It's cynical yes and full of satire, but not just about government but the media enabling deception by government.

    Hoffman, De Niro, Heche, on and on.

    One of the best casts ever from the leads to the supporting cast.  Even includes a piece with Pops Staples working with Willie Nelson.

    Wag the Dog--

    I'm not liberal. I'm actually just anti-evil, OK? - Elon James White

    by Satya1 on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 08:21:30 PM PST

  •  Great examples in this diary though I think I lost (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tortmaster, RandomNonviolence

    the thread of the argument at some point.  Are we trying to rebut, or affirm, the idea that the 50s and (earlier) 60s were a period of unusual political optimism?   You've got some good examples of subtextual critique of McCarthyism in the 50s (and I would add the film A Face in the Crowd if you want a completely straightforward 50s film about the possibilities of American mass-media-driven fascism).  And actually, to go back to the 40s, while everyone knows about Capra's Mr Smith, nobody seems to remember his Meet John Doe from a few years later, which is incredibly cynical about the established American political parties and the role of media in politics.  Maybe the 60s were just a short break from political-paranoia films, possibly because we were very briefly more idealistic (Kennedy) or bc the actual shit got so real (Kennedy dead, riots, Vietnam, King dead, RFK, 68, etc).   But yes, the political-paranoia film makes a spectacular comeback in the 70s, and while we maybe pulled back a bit again in 80s, while it was morning in America, we're now back to 70s levels and perhaps beyond.  

    Great diary topic.

    •  oh yeah, & then of course Dr Strangelove is '64, (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tortmaster, sidnora, walden

      and the Manchurian Candidate was made in '62.  So, yeah, other than those two blockbusters the 60s might have been a break from paranoia/cynicism.  A short one.

      •  I don't know whether (0+ / 0-)

        cynicism was the prevailing mood of those times. The 50’s and early 60's were rife with paranoia, though.

        Almost every sci-fi and/or horror film of the era was either a thinly masked parable of the commies taking over, or a thinly masked parable of the commie-hunters taking over. The remainder were A-bomb or nuclear fallout nightmares. Most other films and TV shows dealt with those issues by pretending they didn't exist.

        Having grown up during that era, I remember the films of the mid-to-late 60s as feeling like someone had thrown open a window to let in some long-overdue sunlight and fresh air. See The Russians Are Coming,The Russians Are Coming! for an example of what I mean.

        "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."........ "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." (yeah, same guy.)

        by sidnora on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 05:08:04 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Amen to all that ("You're next! You're next!"-- (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          classic ending to the original Body Snatchers.  And yes I loved The Russians are coming--by strange biographical accident I was actually able to follow the Russian as well the English.  I would say that the original Star Trek series was a pretty serious anti-Cold War and generally Kennedy-idealism effort too.  

          Then we got Easy Rider, and a whole new school of paranoia...

          •  Both Star Trek and (0+ / 0-)

            TRaC, TRaC came out in 1966, late enough that the zeitgeist had begun to shift away from the paranoia and repression of the 50's. You can watch this transformation (among many others) over the course of the series Mad Men.

            If you are interested in this topic, I recommend Seeing is Believing, by Peter Biskind.

            "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."........ "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." (yeah, same guy.)

            by sidnora on Wed Feb 05, 2014 at 09:44:21 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  What is cynicism? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cynical beliefs : beliefs that people are generally selfish and dishonest
    For me this means a certain amount of cynicism is realistic, intelligent and useful.  There are many people in government and politics who are in it for their own narrow interests and will say or do anything to maintain that.  They do not care about a greater good or a the needless suffering of politically disenfranchised people.

    Corruption in government may well be as old as history itself.  Why should it be a wonderment to any mindful person of the 21st century that it exists in abundance, now, in nearly every jurisdiction in this country?  It's part of the human condition and each of us has a constant choice about how to respond.

    When government appears to fail, what is needed is persistence to find out why it failed and fight on.  Where cynicism becomes a problem is when people use it as a reason to bail out of the struggles for social justice.  It seems to me that people who let their cynicism turn into apathy, perhaps didn't quite have an open-eyed grasp of the darker aspects of politics.

    Who was the GOP sponsor of the Iran sanctions bill in the Senate?  It was Mark Kirk, the largest recipient of contributions from the AIPAC.  Follow the money...

    I'm not liberal. I'm actually just anti-evil, OK? - Elon James White

    by Satya1 on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 09:22:19 PM PST

  •  the voter reality (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    America is an interesting society. it hates its gov but yet continues to put about 90% of the same politicians into office term after term.

    This is interesting because Americans also want change but with the same politicians in office. the insanity of that can be stated simply: doing the same thing over and over and expect change.

    Just call it American exceptionalism.

  •  DailyKos isn't immune (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RandomNonviolence, DMentalist

    As much as I enjoy reading the articles and comments on the site and identify with the progressive voices therein, one thing has struck a discordant note for me -- the pictures that often accompany articles about Republican, conservative, or 'right wing' politicians and pundits. They frequently are chosen such that they depict the person as an oaf, a buffoon or a whack job. Granted, the stories often corroborate that perception, but I believe that the cumulative effect of seeing these unflattering photos -- used time after time -- undercuts the serious reportage that people here are trying to accomplish.

    I can enjoy a good laugh at the expense of a public figure whose positions I disagree with, or detest, but a steady diet of it... well, it leaves me writing this comment.

    My δόγμα ate my Σ

    by jubal8 on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 01:14:26 AM PST

  •  Great diary. A lot of great ... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DMentalist, Doctor RJ

    ... comments, and a subject near to my heart. A couple of things:

    I go back and forth on whether Fox News and the Tea Party will so harmfully propagandize their base against Government that they will not be able to turn them back if a Republican is ever elected President. Will it eventually affect their get-out-the-vote efforts? When you reach a certain level of cynicism, I would guess that there would be some correlation if not causation. On the other hand, if Republicans are allowed to continue to nominate candidates who are the blow-up-the-Government option, then maybe.

    There is an entire transatlantic media consortium and one of only two political parties that has as its central tenet: "Government - Bad; Government Worker - Evil." It is easy to see why cynicism is having a heyday.  

    Also, I think the next great Mr. Smith Goes to Washington won't be seen by moviegoers until somebody writes "Change: The Barack Obama Story." I believe we are living one of the greatest political dramas of all time, and the good guy is winning.  

    On another point, I would say that in any good drama, the protagonist must face nearly over-whelming odds, and, in a story involving Government, the over-whelming odds must usually come from the Government itself. Thus, you have the problem kind of baked into the issue.

    Finally, I would say that Capraesque might make for the better drama, but Sorkinesque usually makes for the better reality. We focus on the federal Democrats and Republicans and a few state offices, usually nothing much below a governor, lieutenant governor or big city mayor. Yet, 99.8% of all governance in the country is coming from people who are paid little, many of those on school boards and county commissions who have other jobs, and then there are the nameless and faceless who make up the backbone of federal regulatory agencies, and most of those people, I believe, are doing it for the right reasons, although their stories aren't the ingredients for "Hollywood magic."  

    Rand Paul is to civil liberties as the Disney Channel is to subtle and nuanced acting. On biblical prophesy: If you play the bible backwards, it says, "Paul is dead."

    by Tortmaster on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 03:15:51 AM PST

  •  Blame the conservatives. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I think we can blame (mostly) the conservative in this issue. They want power for power's sake, and that means government has to be weaker than their own power. Their goal is to shrink the government down to the size that they can drown it in a bathtub.

    Their very effective propaganda includes the idea that government is not the solution, it is the problem. Their compatriots in the media helped by portraying the government, agencies and employees as lazy, incompetent boobs.

    Politics used to mean something along the lines of two or more opposing sides can reach a common ground. But conservatives, because of what they are, don't want a dialogue. They want all the power for themselves, so why have a dialogue?

  •  Are we sure that President David Palmer is a Dem? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Doctor RJ

        I don't recall that his party affiliation was ever stated, following the typical television and movie convention of making the ideal President a sort of everyman who can't be identified as either a Republican or Democrat, because, as everyone knows, BOTH SIDES of the political spectrum are EQUALLY valid, so the perfect President really could come from EITHER party...

         I remember being really surprised when the West Wing bucked this trend by actually stating outright that President Bartlett was, in fact, a DEMOCRAT.  

         Now, I'm certainly not willing to go through every season of 24 just to verify that President Palmer was never identified as a Democrat.  But I would be interested if there are any 24 experts out there who know the answer to this conclusively.  Was it ever established anywhere in the series that David Palmer was in fact a Democrat, or is the author simply assuming that because Palmer was depicted as the first African American President, he therefore MUST have been a Democrat?  Likewise, is the author assuming that because President Charles Logan was depicted with a generally Nixonian persona, he therefore MUST have been a Republican?  Again, not willing to go through all the episodes to verify it one way or the other...(If I did I'd never be able to get that damned BEEPING sound out of my head every time I look at a digital clock...)...but if anyone knows the definitive answer on this, I'd definitely be interested.  

         On a side note, I do know that Dennis Haysbert said he based his portrayal on President Carter, President Clinton, and General Colin Powell.  So since 2/3 of Haysbert's recipe for the ideal President are Democrats, that suggests that Haysbert's leanings are Democratic, but that doesn't mean his character was intended to be a Democrat by the show's writers.  And as for the other third of Haysbert's recipe, my guess is that Haysbert admires Powell for his leadership qualities more than his political views, although after endorsing Obama (twice) and single-payer universal healthcare, Powell is looking a lot more like a Democrat these days....

    •  In Season One Of "24" (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The events of Day 1 occur on the day of the California primary, and it's specifically stated that David Palmer won the Democratic Primary.

      Charles Logan was the Vice President of John Keeler (i.e. the President in season four), and Keeler was running against David Palmer during Palmer's campaign for reelection in season three. Logan assumes the Presidency after Air Force One is shot down with Keeler aboard.

      Also, James Heller (William Devane) was the Secretary of Defense for both Keeler and Logan. His daughter Audrey Raines (Kim Reever) mentions attending a Heritage Foundation event with her father during season four. Not many democrats are attending Heritage Foundation functions.

      •  Good Catch. Thanx. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Doctor RJ

           I probably never would have known, since if ever do re-watch 24, I would probably skip Season 1, which I consider to be the weakest season...

             I do think that it's probably still true that party affiliations were intentionally glossed over and rarely mentioned directly on the show, keeping to the general television convention of not "taking sides" and suggesting that one party is "better" than the other.  And I think that convention has a lot to do with why public cynicism about politics and government tends to be applied equally to both parties.  When politicians are generally portrayed negatively without reference to party, and the few positive examples are also neutered of any party affiliation, it reinforces the belief that ALL politicians are equally sleazy, and that Democrats are no better (or worse) than Republicans.  

             In any case, it's still hard to believe that ANY of the Presidents on 24 were Democrats, since the one constant on the show was that no matter who was President, the President and his staff would only watch FOX News...


  •  In 1958, the Civil Rights Struggle was in motion, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    but outside of Little Rock, it hadn't touched the lives of many white Americans. The South had prospered from federal spending during WWII, so even a large percentage of white segregationists still "trusted the federal government to do what's right".

    All that changed with the passage of the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts in '64 and '65. We've been living with the consequences ever since. It took until the mid-70's for desegregation to grind its way through the courts and take widespread effect... and Ronald Reagan was right there, telling disaffected whites that "government is not the solution, government is the problem".

    Today we're still dealing with the children and grandchildren of the folks who "fled to the suburbs" to avoid desegregation.
    The Republican party succeeded in transforming their parent's resentment toward blacks into a general distrust of "big government". The GOP did almost nothing to reverse desegregation, but harnessed that simmering resentment to elect governments that would promote corporate wealth and privilege at the expense of the very people who had elected them.

    The election of our first non-white president brought this resentment from a simmer to a boil... which will be a good thing in the long run. The alliance between "The Confederacy" and "RepubliCorp" has been brought to light for the first time in 30 years.

    It seems like we've done too little exploit the opportunity, but the TeaPuppets are doing a pretty good job of hanging themselves.

    “It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing
    he was never reasoned into” - Jonathan Swift

    by jjohnjj on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 08:47:18 AM PST

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