The silly season
The US general election is upon us, and is dominating the blogosphere, and Usenet, and the Internet generally. It’s virtually impossible to escape it.
Now that the presidential candidates have been decided, it’s also reached the silly stage, where political debate has been abandoned for the hurling of abuse against the unfavoured candidates. Everywhere one looks there is just the same mindless exchange of insults.
At the beginning, about a year ago, when there were lots of potential candidates, it was quite interesting. There were things on the internet that compared the policies of the candidates and showed which ones supported policies you thought were important. Then the primaries began and gradually the more interesting candidates dropped out of the race, and eventually all the remaining runners belonged firmly to the authoritarian right.
There was a little bit of interest generated in the contest between Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton. It wasn’t a contest of policies, because in that they were almost identical (I tended to favour Barack Obama because I read somewhere that he had voted against land mines while Hilary Clinton hadn’t). The difference was one of style and personality. As one blogger put it (Observations from the Sidelines: Yes, WE Can!) the difference came down to the use of pronouns. Hilary Clinton habitually spoke about “I”, Barack Obama used a more inclusive “we”.
Once Obama had secured his party’s nomination, however, his rhetoric changed, and it became clear that you couldn’t believe in “the change you can believe in”. It was the same old right-wing authoritarian stuff.
There was a slight flutter of interest when Sarah Palin became the Republican vice-presidential candidate. She’d been under the radar until then. I’ve noticed that among the chattering classes in the blogosphere, the contest is very much between Barack Obama and Sarah Palin. Is it because they are seen as young and dynamic, whereas McCain and Biden are old has-beens and right out of it. Are we back to the Yippies of 1968?
But now it’s reached the boring puerile insult stage. The laboured puns by misspelling the names of parties and candidates (DemocRATs and RePUGs). There are those who write of Barack HUSSEIN Obama, which makes as much of a serious political point as writing John SIDNEY McCain, but people persist in doing idiotic things like that.
And even bloggers who don’t support the claptrap of the supporters of the two major parties have become boring. The libertarians in the blogosphere post endless ideological rants, as predictable and uninspiring as timeshare salesmen.
I’m really looking forward to November when it will all be over, and blogs and newsgroups and discussion forums may become more interesting to read again.
And we wait with bated breath to see which poor people in some part of the world remote from America the new president will try to bomb back into the stone age.