They’re Not This Dumb, They’re Bullshitting You

Wading into the waters of political discussion on the Internet is a lot like jumping into a shark tank. But there was an exchange on Twitter this past week that I think really highlights where we’re at nowadays, and I want to talk about it for a minute here.

Let me first state clearly that I am not what you would call a Chuck Schumer fan. I believe he has been mostly feckless in his current position as Senate minority leader. However, he sent out this tweet last week in which he starts by stating a fact supported by scientific data:

Now, whether or not you agree that climate change is the greatest threat facing our planet – it is – I don’t think it’s audacious to say that there is cause for concern when you consider that July was the 415th consecutive month that global temperatures were higher than 20th century averages.

Alternatively, you could be Texas senator John Cornyn, who quote tweeted Schumer and inserted his own commentary on the issue by proclaiming with all the gravitas of a wet fart: “It’s summer, Chuck.”

Let me count the ways that this is a dumb thing to say. For starters, the entire southern hemisphere of the planet could respond by simply saying, “It’s winter, John.” Second, even if it was summer everywhere – it isn’t – this is surely not the first time we’ve ever had summer. In fact, there have been…(counts on fingers)…like, a lot of them over the course of human history. We should be able to agree that it’s a bad sign that the five hottest years ever recorded were (in order) 2016, 2015, 2017, 2018 and 2014. You might recognize those as the last five years in a row.

Needless to say, Cornyn was shredded for his quip in the replies. A reasonable person might have been willing to just take the L and move on. But not Cornyn. No, he decided to double down.

This is a classic cop out. Say something stupid and then tell everyone you were just kidding. Here’s the thing, though. Where’s the joke in what he said? I can’t find it. “You ever notice how summer is hot?” is not the kind of zinger that’s gonna land anyone a Netflix comedy special. But more to the point, what Cornyn is unwittingly admitting here is one of two things. He’s either really that dumb, or he’s purposefully obfuscating to make people think of climate change as something worth joking about instead of acting on. And I’m willing to bet it’s the latter.

It speaks to the larger strategy at play here from people who have a financial interest in keeping climate change solutions at bay. They’ve turned this into a political issue, which it really shouldn’t be. Ensuring the planet is inhabitable should be stakes in which every person has a vested interest, regardless of party lines. But somehow, it’s become an issue of belief, as if debating the merits of the science portending a global crisis is akin to talking about the existence of ghosts.

Climate change conversations should be data based. And the data says we’re fucked if we don’t take considerable steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But of course, reducing greenhouse gas emissions means placing regulations on industry, which is clearly a no go for those holding political power in the United States at the moment. Hence the withdrawal from the Paris accord. Hence the elimination of endagered species protection. Hence the rolling back of common sense environmental regulations. Hence the use of climate change as a punchline instead of a threat. And hence on and henceforth.

You see, it’s a game to these people. Large donors from influential corporations will continue to line their pockets to keep telling you that all of this is nothing to worry about. It’s a dangerous game in which the survival of future generations is on the line. But it’s not just on climate change that this strategy is applied. It seems no matter the issue, they’re going to at least attempt to do this dance to convince you that it’s really not all that important as long as corporations and wealthy special interest groups have carte blanche to do whatever they want.

When sensible gun legislation is introduced, they’ll tell you that it just won’t work, despite the fact that it has for every developed nation outside of the United States. They’ll say you can’t legislate crazy, even as they oppose or eliminate background check programs that would help to prevent guns from falling into the hands of the mentally ill. They’ll legislate women’s reproductive rights to protect the unborn fetus instead of the woman being forced to carry a baby to term even if that pregnancy is the product of rape or incest. Iowa congressman Steve King – whose track record permits him to be politely described as a racist reptile – went so far as to say the following:

“What if we went back through all the family trees and just pulled those people out that were products of rape and incest? Would there be any population of the world left if we did that?”

Steve King, an asshole

In King’s case, this might actually be a genuine belief that he holds. I can’t stress enough how much of a prick he is. But more often than not, politicians of his ilk are beholden to their corporate masters and will use whatever coded language they need to use to make sure that their interests are prioritized over those of the people who vote them into office. That point could easily be directed at people on both sides of the aisle, but it’s my observation that Republicans do seem to be more brazen about it.

The point is, don’t let these bullshitters razzle dazzle their way past your sensibilities. They’re going to keep trying to tell you that you’re crazy for feeling the way you do by reframing warranted concern as you getting all bent out of shape over nothing. But you’re not crazy.

Just remember that the battle here is not with the people who vote for these cretins. Those in power love nothing better than when we get caught up sniping at each other when they’re the ones that should be held accountable. That’s why you’ll notice that none of my anger in this piece has been directed at voters. I’m doing my best not to judge anyone for using their vote in whichever way they see fit, even if I don’t see how it’s possible to turn a blind eye to so much of the cruelty on display in Washington these days. There’s so much to be pissed off about every day that it’s easy to become exhausted by it all. In many ways, that’s part of the strategy. So let’s try to keep it focused. And here’s to hoping we can vote these clowns out of office as soon as possible.

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