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

Jonathan Swift
"The Democrats have moved to the right, and the right has moved into a mental hospital." - Bill Maher
"The city is crowded my friends are away and I'm on my own
It's too hot to handle so I gotta get up and go

It's a cruel ... cruel summer"

Friday, November 03, 2006

numberless are the world's wonders

I asked earlier what it must feel like to be a Republican in these days of schadenfreude and roses. I had in mind an earnest, sincere Republican (yes, I do believe that they still exist). A Values Voter, perhaps; a fag-basher, yes, but one who genuinely and honestly believes that fags should be bashed because Jesus said so. A person who fails to live up to—or even truly understand—their own religion, a person who is at bottom dead wrong about everything—but not a dishonest person.

Or perhaps a Security Mom, who genuinely believes that Omar Ali bin-Al Killya is going to blow up her children. Because Michelle Malkin said so. Again, she is dead wrong, but it didn't take brains to earn that Mrs. degree at the school she still spells "Texas Teck". And the frat boy she married says that the nice man George Bush is giving them a tax cut! In the end, her paranoia faces the wrong direction and she's a bit self-centered (but aren't we all?). She's not dishonest, not really.

Or, perhaps, a curious Texan. Who served in the military and defended American Values. But who is smart enough to understand that those American Values include freedom of expression. But who was indoctrinated to conservative values throughout his career. But who can see through some of that indoctrination. But who is frustrated that the liberals he debates refuse to get it. But who can see, on occasion, that they have a point. But who is also an evangelical, who sees them liberals throwing around the name of Jesus like he was just another philosopher! and being so dern unappreciative of the devotional links he forwards! But who also see those liberals respecting the philosophy of Christ, 'specially the Peace and Love part. Who is growing ever more confused.

So how does it feel? How would any among us, True Believers all in one way or another, feel to discover that our True Belief was tragically misplaced. How would I feel, to find that my leaders had feet of clay? Some of them do, to be sure, and it's always been disappointing to realize that. But how would I feel to go through what sincere conservatives and honest Republicans must be going through now, with leader after leader falling in—not just disgrace, but utter hypocrisy and smashed dreams.

Being who I am, I Truly Believe that there are times when only Literature can save us, when only the accumulated writings of the Best and Brightest authors from our shared history can explain the wrecked circumstances we find ourselves in. And in this case, at this strange place where all roads meet, I find that we must turn to Sophocles.

In short, such true Republicans must now feel like Oedipus felt at the moment of the most tragic of recognitions in all of literary history—when he realized in one crushing onslaught that he himself was the criminal that he was pursuing so adamantly; that he had, in fact, killed his father; that his incestuous carnal knowledge of his own mother had resulted in four doomed children-slash-siblings; that his mother-slash-wife, even now, lay hung by her own ropes, unable to face the tragic knowledge that he now must live with. That everything he was and everything he had stood for had led to his utter ruin.

Oedipus, at that moment, cried out for light—ironically, just before he extinguished his own light forever by poking out his eyes with Jocasta’s brooch. In another sense, he was crying directly to Apollo, the god of light, time, and fate, who had brought him to this crossroads. In yet another sense, Oedipus cursed the light, which represented—as always in literature—truth. Truth was something that rational Oedipus—who had once said “I will not listen; the truth must be made known”—could have, in the end, done without. The things we seek most ardently are all so often the things that destroy us—an eternal truth that the onetime admirers of Ted Haggard, Don Sherwood, and George Bush must be darkly reflecting on tonight at this lightless and pitiless crossroads.