Last night Comrade Donald Trump accepted the Republican nomination for president. He gave a speech, which I read this morning since I couldn’t bring myself to actually listen to him. Like all of Trump’s speeches, this one was filled with exaggerations, half-truths, suppositions, grimdark fantasies, and bald-faced lies. But he did say something I actually agreed with, something I truly believe.
“This is the most important election in the history of our country. “
It surely is. It’s important on so many levels. It’s important to end the most brazenly corrupt administration in US history. It’s important to remove a president who was elected with the help of a hostile foreign nation, and in return has refused to hold that nation accountable for any misconduct — including putting a bounty on the lives of US troops in Afghanistan. It’s important to remove a president whose rhetoric and policies are intended to divide the nation, who has celebrated convicted war criminals, who has advocated war crimes, and who has defended past and present racists and white supremacists.
But it’s also the most important election because removing this president is one of the first steps we need to take in order to inoculate the nation against being so damned stupid. It shames me to say this, but the United States has become a profoundly stupid nation. This is bipartisan stupid, by the way. Although I believe conservatives exhibit it much more than liberals, the stupid is ubiquitous.
To be clear, when I use ‘stupid’ in this sense I’m not talking about a lack of intelligence. I’m not talking about an inability to learn and integrate new information. I’m talking about a collective refusal to learn and integrate new information. I’m talking about the rejection of common sense, comprehension, and perception. I’m talking about people who adopt an impermeable barrier to fend off common sense, comprehension, and perception. People who actively resist common sense, comprehension, and perception.
It’s not just the quantity of stupid (though there’s a lot of stupid out there) or the quality of the stupid (it’s milspec stupid — stupid that’s been tested and re-tested to insure it will operate under extreme conditions). It’s the ubiquity of the stupid. It’s the overarching scale and scope of the stupid, the never-ending cascade of stupid. There’s no chance to pause and take a breath of common sense, because there’s more stupid coming, and it’s coming from every direction, and it’s coming from thousands of different sources.
We’ve become stupid about history, stupid about religion, stupid about science, stupid about the law, stupid about public health, stupid about governance, stupid about race, stupid about biology, stupid about the military, stupid about gender, stupid about the Constitution. We’ve become stupid in part because we no longer distinguish between opinion and fact, because we substitute faith and belief for evidence.
Look, there’s no disgrace in being stupid about some stuff. Everybody is stupid about something. I’m massively stupid about the internal combustion engine. I’m deeply stupid about basic household plumbing. But here’s the thing: most of us are willing to learn. If I’m having a new sink installed and the plumber — the person who’s been trained to think about plumbing — tells me I need a sink trap, then explains to me that a sink trap prevents debris from forming a clog deeper in the plumbing system, that a sink trap stops stinky sewer gas from entering my house, then I’ll make sure my new sink has a sink trap. You don’t have to blindly trust an expert, but you should damn well listen to what they have to say and try to understand it.
That’s one of the reasons this election is so important. Donald Trump doesn’t know jack shit about plumbing. But he’s got a lot of plumbing supplies that fell off a truck and he wants to unload them. He doesn’t care if our sinks get clogged or sewer gas stinks up the house. Hell, he wants the sinks to clog. He’s chunking wads of hair and bacon grease down the sinks to make them clog, so we’ll want his plumbing supplies. He’s not concerned about us or our house; he’s just got plumbing supplies to unload and wants to make a buck off our ignorance.
Uncle Joe may not be up-to-date with the newest plumbing tech, but he’ll hire good plumbers and listen to them. He’ll make sure the US has a damned sink trap.
Editorial Note: Yeah, I know, it’s an awkward metaphor — but it’s not like I plan these essays. They just sort of happen. Then I find photos that fit. I like to think of it as ‘my process’.
Another Editorial Note: After I wrote this I learned that the University of Arizona has used wastewater to predict Covid outbreaks. It turns out folks who’ve been infected with the coronavirus quickly begin…uh…pooping the virus. (I am NOT making this up.) So by monitoring dorm sewage systems, the university was able to quickly discover an outbreak in one of their dorms. Yay science! Yay plumbing!