“I found a very liberating position for myself as an artist, and that was: I sort of gave up on the human race and gave up on the American Dream, culture and nation, and decided that I didn’t care about the outcome. I gave me a lot of freedom from a kind of distant platform to be sort of amused…to watch the whole thing with a combination of wonder and pity, and then try to put that into words.” --George Carlin on Charlie Rose, 1996
There are wise words above from a great man, a man who after a whole decades-long career spent becoming a household name decided that he was on the wrong track all along and changed course. He decided to not be a cheerleader anymore, and instead dedicated the remainder of his life and career to looking on amusedly at the “human experiment” from afar, and chronicled the human race’s slow circle down the drain so it could be repeated in his shows in an amusing manner. His ability to separate and disconnect is something I now envy.
This election will go down as a very significant point in history, I am sure. Mostly this is because it pits the two most hated candidates in modern history against each other in probably the single worst “choice” election we have seen as a nation. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are both loathed, derided and feared in extremely large numbers and yet, we will be forced to choose between these two (or choose some form of third option that’s either sitting at home or voting third party, both equally insignificant protest actions that still results in one of these two clowns winning anyway) on November 8th. But how did we get here? What can be done?
I will not use this space, or this article, to chronicle how we got here. I am not enough of an expert, or eloquent enough a writer to properly recite the various misdeeds, mistakes and flat-out dumbassery that happened along this road to hell we now find ourselves on as a nation. But what can be done? For me, it is simple: take a cue from Father George. Tune out. Drop out. Stop caring. Because as George once said, “It’s a Big Club, and you ain’t in it! You and I are not in The Big Club.”
This, of course, is a somewhat uncommon notion, and I would guess a somewhat unpopular one, especially in this Age of Outrage we’re now in. Everyone has their cause these days, and it seems more and more that people resort to petty yelling and screaming to emotionally push their particular cause along, whatever it is, even in the face of overwhelming factual evidence that they are merely tilting at windmills. No matter. They will be heard NOW, dammit, and you will bend to their will. From time to time I am sure I have been guilty of this myself. But whether it is the tacit (and many times not very tacit) racism and nationalist jingoism of the Trump ilk, the insane pseudo-scientific drivel peddled on the extreme left that wants us all worked into a frenzy about gluten and vaccinations, the crusaders that will not leave one bathroom unattended lest someone dressed in “the wrong clothes” sneaks in, and etc, etc, etc, it goes on and on and on. And I’m frankly just tired of trying to act like I understand or keep up with, or most importantly care about any of it. So I think I’m just going to stop being like everyone else, and try harder to be more like George.
Don’t get me wrong, this is not a decision I am making lightly. Also don’t misunderstand: even George cared about those close to him, and never wished any of them harm. But aside from that, he simply ceased caring about humans as a group, and the grand “human experiment” in progress on this planet. Individuals he valued very highly, but humans in groups and particularly humans in groups with some sort of common cause were simply expendable to him. The simple truth is there is typically very little one can do in a macro sense to affect national or global trends and cultural shifts. Simply put, such changes are like runaway trains and the three choices a person has are get on the train, get out of the way, or step in front of it and get run over. I think I was a rider on the train, but I’m thinking more and more that I just want to jump off, and watch the inevitable train wreck from afar with an emotional detachment that frees me to find humour in the tragic times we see ourselves in today, with the ability to not take any of it too seriously.
Donald Trump did this to me. Hillary Clinton did this to me. Fox News did this to me, as did Breitbart, David Duke, the North Carolina bathroom warriors, the folks in Texas that need to suppress the vote at any cost and all the rest. If you want to act like you have a stake in these things, and invest in them, you’ll inevitably hit the brick wall of futility as the train rushes by. Sometimes the river cannot be forded, redirected, dammed up or contained. In the end Mother Nature does win. So maybe I should just float downstream from here, stop trying to be one of the schemers, one of the planners. Maybe I should just be one of the detached amused people, like George, and look on this all as a great deal of entertainment. When looked at through this prism, I can see where this election, and the absurd ones that are sure to follow, will live up to that expectation without any trouble. Here’s to enjoying the trip around the drain.
“I don't believe there's any problem in this country, no matter how tough it is, that Americans, when they roll up their sleeves, can't completely ignore.” --George Carlin