There's a trend emerging in American politics. I don't think it's a new one, but it's growth is disturbing to me. And it's the amazing hostility to the common people.
With the explosion of the internet, Andy Warhol's "15 minutes" theory seems to have developed a variant: under the right circumstances, anyone can become a superstar overnight, over the most trivial of reasons -- and fall just as quickly. Even in politics.
But in politics, there is a growing trend to take that nobody, that average person, and treat them just like we do hardened political professionals -- and attempt to destroy them in the process.
Take, for example, this guy named Joe. He's playing with his kids in his front yard one fine fall day a bit over a year ago when this horde descends on his neighborhood. He recognizes the guy at the head of the mob -- it's the Democratic nominee for president, and Joe doesn't particularly like the guy. So he figures he'll ask him a rather pointed question, take what will likely be his only shot in life to make a big shot squirm a little. It's not the greatest of questions, but the big shot bobbles it a little -- and suddenly Joe finds that he's the talk of water coolers across the nation.
Or, if you prefer, this gal named Carrie. She thinks she has this shot at fame and success, trading off her looks. So she enters a beauty pageant, and is doing pretty well. Then a worthless sack of shit masquerading as a human being that -- for some insane reason -- had been tapped as a judge decides to bring politics into the equation. Carrie ain't the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree, so she gives a vaguely-coherent answer that she hopes will please everyone (that's what pageant contestants are supposed to do, after all), saying that she personally opposes gay marriage, but is glad that it's something that we can freely discuss and decide as a society.
For Joe's impertinence of helping Mr. Big Shot make himself look like a fool, he must be punished. No, he must be destroyed. Every aspect of his life must be ripped apart and laid bare for public consumption. Why, did you hear that he's behind on his taxes? That he's not even a fully licensed plumber? Hell, his legal first name isn't even Joe!
And for Carrie, why she must be punished as well for not whole-heartedly endorsing the position of the judge. She, too, must be denounced and exposed and shamed and degraded. The judge (a flamingly-homosexual, plagiarizing, crass beyond belief online gossip columnist whose queenly traits dwarf those of real queens like Elizabeth II) promptly labels her a "cunt" among other things (gee, what a surprise: misogyny from someone like Perez Hilton) and calls her a hate-monger and a homophobe and anything else his diseased little brain can think of.
Naturally, the political left piles on to her, finding out that she has breast implants (paid for by the pageant), might have gay relatives, and -- horror of horrors -- made some very private, very lurid videos for a then-boyfriend who has shown what a scumbag he is by giving them to her enemies.
Remember, this is all in retaliation for her saying this: "We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage. And you know what, I think in my country, in my family, I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anybody out there, but that's how I was raised." A position, once it's translated into proper English, is utterly undistinguishable from the stated belief of President Obama.
In both cases, the question was the same: "who are these people?" As in, "who is it who is daring to challenge us and our beliefs and our positions?" Or, "what is in these people's pasts that we can use to destroy them for questioning us?"
Which is not that far removed from "who the hell do these little people think they are?"
Who they are is simple: they are not the elites. They are not the rich and the powerful and the scions of good breeding and the right schools and the right social circles. They are nobodies who have forgotten their place and dare to question their betters.
And that simply must not be tolerated.
Let's toss one more nobody into the pile. She, like Joe, started from very humble beginnings. She, like Carrie, at one point tried to use her appearance to advance herself. But unlike Joe and Carrie, she achieved a remarkable level of success before gaining national prominence. She dove into politics, starting out at the local level and rising to statewide office. In the process, she stuck to her principles and took on a horrifically corrupt political machine that ruled her state.
And she won. Those who opposed her found that she was not willing to be bought off, not willing to compromise on ethics, and not willing to "go along to get along." Quite a few of them were put out of office, and some even ended up in jail -- for real corruption.
Then she was suddenly in the national spotlight -- and that's when the knives came out.
Again, the attacks all boiled down to the same thing: "who is she?" Or, more honestly, "who does she think she is?"
Who she is is a remarkably simple question, with a remarkably simple answer: she's just what she says she is, just what she seems to be. She doesn't come from the finest breeding, she's not the product of the best schools, she has no great credentials or high contacts who have greased the skids for her. She started out at the bottom and pulled her way up by her own efforts. She has her principles and her beliefs and she has no use for those who are "doing well by doing good." She will not play the games of the corrupt and the venal and the petty. In fact, she's shown that she's willing to walk away from the game when the deck is stacked against her -- and start playing again at another table.
And she does it all with a smile and a kind word, carefully keeping any anger or bitterness or resentment or hostility tightly reined in.
And she's shown she's a hell of a lot stronger than Joe or Carrie.
We all know people like Joe or Carrie or Sarah. Joe, the hard-working guy with the too-simplistic view of politics who doesn't know much, but knows what he likes and doesn't like, who he likes and doesn't like, and will take the chance to speak what he sees as truth to power when given the opportunity -- but won't seek out the opportunity, because he's too busy working. Carrie, the good-hearted (bless her heart) but not exceptionally bright youngster, a bit naive and unaware, but eager to please and be liked while still keeping true to what she believes is right. And Sarah, the exceptionally average American who doesn't ask much for herself, but demands basic civility and honesty from her elected officials -- and a spine of steel that forces her to demand it (always with a smile and a kind word, of course) from those who deem themselves worthy of the public trust.
These are the enemies of the current ruling elite. These are the people who must be opposed, must be oppressed, must be destroyed for daring to question their betters. These are the nails that, for the crime of standing out, must be pounded down.
To me, they're the kind of people I want as my neighbors.