Well, we aren’t as bad off as I thought we would be.
Like most liberal alarmists, when Bush got re-elected, I envisioned his second term ending around 2019 after being delayed by a handful of convenient declarations of martial law and a few Bin Laden tapes (one illicit), the event itself wreathed in more flames and bloodshed than a pagan laser orgy (which I thought, also incorrectly, would be a thing by now. I was hitting the Robitussin pretty hard back then).
I figured most of the western U.S. would be a vast nuclear wasteland presided over by warring clans of Australian dune-buggy hooligans, and we would all be receiving our degrees from Dean Master Blaster.
I suppose this is why alarmists, liberal or conservative, are rightfully viewed as idiots, though that doesn’t stop a lot of us from talking like a pack of ranting sandwich-board men every four or so years when an election doesn’t go our way.
Right now there’s a sizeable contingent out there convinced that President Obama is the Antichrist, on the cusp of plunging this country down a nightmarish jet luge of wanton carnality and godless progressivism (see aforementioned pagan laser orgy).
This is partly because slander and panic just suit our political system better than well-adjusted reasoning.
The news media, no longer the watchdog there to filter misinformation, instead reports whatever will draw ratings. As long as they tell us it’s hard-hitting, informative journalism (which they do every commercial break, at the top of the hour and when the ticker rolls over), they’re assuring us that we’re staying on top of things.
Little by little, we see political observations that aren’t really bright, rational, or plausible enough to warrant national airtime slowly pollute the general discourse, until a reasonable response just seems kind of boring compared to all the encroaching-apocalypse talk.
And I’ll fess up, I clearly Chicken Littled Bush’s last term.
No one’s being carted off for compulsory work detail to the Enron/KFC oil flats. Packs of Aussie skinheads aren’t waiting over the next ridge in their dune-buggies, ready to pillage your wares and precious, precious gasoline. And we’ve all come to terms with our dystopian surveillance state surprisingly well, and in record time — the Chinese at least had a few riots before settling into it.
That said, the other reason why alarmist statements are popular is because on the off chance you’re right about something, you suddenly seem prescient, rather than just a jerk. Gloating is your consolation prize. Savor it as you watch your country crumble in twain.
So in that spirit, note that I said “we aren’t as bad off” as I thought we would be. I know you don’t need reminding, but we’re quite bad off.
We seem to be unavoidably shambling toward a recession because our economy is designed for and by grifters with MBAs. The people who will take the brunt of the downswing have little to fall back on because someone went and gutted our infrastructure for the sake of fiscal responsibility, an initiative that somehow ended in a $10 trillion deficit.
We’re facing multiple military quagmires, ailing diplomatic relations and possible war crimes charges because of eight years of flat-wrong ideological policy-making.
We’re still in danger, we’re still looking for the same people, and the only big difference is that we’re looking for them on American cell phones, Web browsers, library cards, e-mail accounts, credit card purchases — pretty much anywhere but a search warrant, since those are so passé.
And what’s George’s legacy now? Keeping us safe?
Without much evidence it’s a little hard to say, the real key information is still under lock and key and will be for years to come. It’s at least a statute of limitations away.
Chicken Little may have been wrong, but crying wolf and keeping us safe isn’t the same thing. Frankly, the hyperbole probably scared off just as many.
Ryan Nowell is a senior English major. His column appears Wednesdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.