wake me when it’s over

I wasn't going to look at all. Watching election night results is like watching dolphins play around the propeller of a cruise ship. It's unnerving, to say the least. So I was just going to say wake me when it's over, don't make me watch. The plan was to slip a Deadwood DVD into the player and await our collective doom in placid oblivion, come what may with the breaking dawn.

I have been silently repeating this mantra to myself all day, in which I've come to invest no small amount of belief:

We get the government we deserve.
We get the government we deserve.
We get the government we deserve.

As a younger man, I looked on the sausage factory of politics and its machinations as being essentially onanistic, the purpose and practice of government to be basically insular and moot. What do government people do? Well, they govern the government. People in the real world do the work of the real world.

I don't feel that way anymore. Not as much. A butterfly lands on Schwarzenegger's nose and he shuts down a state park, which shuts down a town. Only Providence knows what somebody like Whitman would shutter up, given half a chance. Or what manner of rough beast might confront her proboscis in the process, is my point.

Either way, whether we get bad government or good, we have no one to blame but ourselves.

Some come to laugh their past away
Some come to make it just one more day
Whichever way your pleasure tends
if you plant ice you're gonna harvest wind

— The Grateful Dead, Franklin's Tower

So I peeked. I clicked over to Google News in spite of my own most sane interests. Which, ironically, is how I suspect many people make their voting choices. They know what's best, and they're poised with their pen in the little styrofoam and cardboard voting booth, and then the lights go dim. 

Looks like everything is going to be OK. With the exception of the Congress of the United States. And that's been a mental hospital for 200 years anyway. Because, to paraphrase my dear ol' Dad, they have to do something, even if it's wrong.

Puts me in mind of the end of Cormac McCarthy's novel, The Crossing:

After a while he sat in the road. He took off his hat and placed it on the tarmac before him and he bowed his head and held his face in his hands and wept. He sat there for a long time and after a while the east did gray and after a while the right and godmade sun did rise, once again, for all and without distinction.

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4 thoughts on “wake me when it’s over

  1. I appreciate that perspective, Joseph, but I'm going to have to stick with my story. This is the government we deserve. We being the American people in general.We as a society have elected to meet confrontation with panic, to meet terrorism by being terrorized. We’ve met diversity with intolerance and rebuke. We’ve abrogated our civil rights in the name of security, then looked for leadership to those who took those rights away. I could go on all night … and can anyone explain why the war didn’t even come up during the elections? Have we forgotten shock and awe and what caused us to go broke in the first place? Even a dog knows when it has been kicked and by whom, if not why. You may get him to love you again, but damned it he’d vote for another swift kick in the ass, and dirt for dinner to boot. We get bad government because we vote for bad government. There wasn’t a coup. And if we vote for it, we deserve what we get.

  2. Surely, some revelation was at hand. Or some relevation. "Getting the government we deserve" is, in my opinion, a copout. I disagree.Like William Munny said to Little Bill in Eastwood's film Unforgiven before he blew his freekin' head off, "Deserve's got nuthin' to do with it."I would more readily go with this: We get the government we get. It is inherently in the nature of governments to behave and act badly. They have no choice. They are us. Yes, perhaps on an imaginary grand scale unconcerned with innocence and morality and reality, we deserve more and better, some social mechanism that magically renders equality and sustenance and safety to and for the very citizens it claims to represent and be accountable in the administration of its power over. But that is a grand delusion.Ever since Thag and Grax sat in the communal cave and disagreed over how to distribute the dino ribs—equal shares to all regardless of status or participation in collective work; or more bronto-McNibbits to those who hungered for the empty and lethal nutrition of power—there has been discord and basic cluster*uckage in every government since the Dawn of Ham.To expect anything different from a government is to believe in fairy frogmothers and underpants gnomes. Sure they may exist, but once you wake up, they vanish.We get the government we get because we got it. Literally and figuratively. And we always will.

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