Ask Matt Labash Vol. XXXVII: An Apathy Party Manifesto, a rebuke of Sarah Palin, and Jon Stewart The Horrible
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What lessons can we take away from this election and how will it affect my life? – J. Kramer
What we learned: You can either worship Satan, or leave your pubic hair untrimmed. But you can’t do both. Americans are a tolerant people. But even they have their limits.
How will the election affect you? In all likelihood, it won’t. People spend an ungodly amount of time obsessing over elections and what they mean. But here’s a dirty little secret: they almost never mean as much as they’re cracked up to. Remember the monumental historic election of 2008 in which the earth reversed rotation on its axis and nothing would ever be the same again? Baracktards, are your lives really that markedly different than they were under George W. Bush? Because if they are, I’ve yet to hear you stop whining about them.
Tea Partiers, do you really think food will taste better and Woodrow Wilson will burn in hotter hellfire because Marco Rubio won? You’re a sad, deluded person if you do. Not to mention that you’re evidencing the naivety of an Obamabot, circa 2007. I dislike big government, too. But if government is a flabby, slow-witted behemoth that should be a mere afterthought on our journeys as rugged individualists, why do you spend every last waking hour being consumed by who’s running it? The difference between, say, Sharron Angle and Harry Reid is not, I’m sorry to report, the difference between 5 and 10 percent unemployment rates. If government were actually any good at fixing that sort of intractable problem, then it might be worth losing sleep over. But it isn’t. And the realization that government is not the remedy for most ailments is why you’re supposedly a conservative in the first place.
As the architect of the Apathy Party – which I’ve never cared enough about to formally launch – I like to state our founding principle: it’s not cool not to care, but we don’t care enough to care if it’s uncool. Less cynically stated: it’s not that nothing matters, it’s just that most things matter a lot less than we pretend they do. And a good many of the things that actually do matter — our tottering financial system, our runaway debt, our fraying entitlements — nobody’s demonstrated the real political will to fix anyway. All of those catastrophes have enjoyed bipartisan support. If you really believe a few rookie Tea Partiers can un-wreck the train, good luck with that. You’re a lot more optimistic than I am.
On most days, politics is little more than sports for people who are too easily confused by baseball. But as with baseball nerds, that doesn’t stop them from assigning way too much consequence to every uptick and downturn. Remember when Obama won a mere 735 days ago? That supposedly represented the Death of Conservatism. Oops. From now on, maybe “A New Age of Whatever Some Short-Sighted Pundit On Deadline Declares It Is” should last a good five years before we even consider anointing it as such.
None of which is to suggest that we shouldn’t be happy with the outcome of this most recent election. We should, since Congress is now a house divided. If they’re not going to do anything useful, then paralysis, at least, is a desirable outcome. Given what we’ve had the last two years, gridlock is good. Everybody is always railing against a do-nothing Congress, while a do-anything Congress is what we should really be afraid of. It’s when Congress gets a big idea, then has the ability to pass it (see Obamacare) that the trouble usually starts.
So here’s to constructive bickering and stalemates, and bad legislation showing up dead on arrival. May the bipartisan spirit of can-doism rarely show its meddlesome face. And don’t get so uptight if/when that happens. Part of the problem with the exciting times we live in is that everybody’s too damn excitable. Calm down. Shut off your computer. Read a book. Have a drink. Walk your dog. Let the toxins leave your system. It’s neither the end of the world, nor the dawn of a new era of prosperity and righteousness. It’s just an election. They’ll have another one in two years.
I keep hearing political figures – Sarah Palin most recently – accuse their opponents of being sexist. How do I know if I’m sexist? – Keith Hempstone
If, when Sarah Palin comes on The TV, you turn the sound down because her honking voice drives you to drink, but you like to watch her talk anyway (all those media-bias accusations pouring forth from those glistening, pillowy, concupiscent lips), then you might be a sexist.
Here’s what I don’t get, however. I’ve been a conservative since God was a boy, so I feel entitled to ask: when did conservatives turn into such a whiny lot of needy, politically-correct meter maids, issuing citations for every perceived slight? The liberal media is unfair. Wahhhh. A website ran a picture of Michele Bachmann applying makeup. Wahhhhh. Sack up, conservatives. (In the interest of avoiding sexism, that goes for our women, too.) Quit being what you’ve always professed to despise: which is a bunch of thin-skinned weenies who take grievous offense at any and all provocations. If some passive-aggressive editor chooses photos of Michele Bachmann in which she looks feminine and hot, so what? She is feminine and surprisingly hot. Sorry.
As for you, Sarah Palin, you impish little media-bias monitor (please don’t flame-Tweet me), don’t you have a reality show/2012 campaign to think about? Shouldn’t you at least start pretending to look presidential, instead of weighing in on media issues so inconsequential that the third-string night editor at the Poynter Institute website wouldn’t think of bothering himself with it? Just a word of caution from a real American since I know you prize the voice of the people, and last time I checked, I am a people: you’re starting to do what many considered impossible – turning Karl Rove into a sympathetic figure. You might want to adjust accordingly.
Jon Stewart is horrible. Why doesn’t anyone say so? – Helen Markanian
Jon Stewart is horrible. There, satisfied?
Matt Labash is a senior writer with the Weekly Standard magazine. His book, “Fly Fishing With Darth Vader: And Other Adventures with Evangelical Wrestlers, Political Hitmen, and Jewish Cowboys,” was published this spring by Simon and Schuster. Have a question for Matt Labash? Submit it here.