I’m not in the habit of quoting Republican senators except to mock them. There’s an exception to every rule and I’m making one for Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse. He was in a feisty and downright sassy mood when he spoke at the Reagan Library last week.
“American revival won’t be easy because we’re facing not just dysfunctional government but also endless fuel from rage peddlers who want just this dysfunction, who lust only for performative shouting.
Right now, we have a government of the weirdos, by the weirdos, for the weirdos. Most real people are tuning out – regrettably, but understandably – and they’re letting the very-online, very-angry dominate politics. Our politicians now consistently act like jackwagons, they do it for a reason:
It’s because they’re primarily performing – for other jackwagons.
Echo-chamber politicians drinking their own bathwater isn’t entirely new, of course, but what is new, and something is new here, it’s the instant feedback of social media. Politicians increasingly addicted to likes and retweets, they act and think – but mostly they feel – like social media is where real life happens.
Political twitter isn’t real. Only 22% of Americans use it, and more than half of that 1/5 of never follow politics on Twitter. The vast majority of traffic on Twitter is driven by well under 2% of the public. And yet politicians – again, left and right are barely distinguishable – in seeking to cater to this tiny minority and the algorithms that drive addicted-engagement.
Political algorithms run on rage.
Nobody goes viral for making a good faith argument. “
If it weren’t the age of weirdos, I’d say that Senator Sasse was planning to run for president in 2024. The bull goose weirdo won’t like this speech one bit. Sasse was already on his shit list for voting to convict in the second impeachment trial.
I got a kick out of Sasse’s use of archaic slang to make a point about social media. Jackwagon is a swell euphemism for jackass. It sounds like something Reagan would have said when he hosted the Western teevee anthology, Death Valley Days.
Today’s digital cowboys are definitely jackwagons and jackholes. I know what they’d call them on Deadwood:
That’s too strong a word for a Midwesterner like Ben Sasse, but he could make like Al Swearengen and call a hooplehead a hooplehead.
I’d like to amend my age of weirdos comment. It’s really the age of weirdos, jackwagons, and hoopleheads. The whole comment amending thing made me feel positively senatorial.
There’s plenty of Dem bashing in the Sasse speech but it’s the GOP bashing that stands out in these two soundbites:
“The left wants a powerful nameless-but-supposedly-benevolent bureaucracy; the right wants a strong-man daddy figure.
What this party cannot be is a cult of personality and grievance. “
That’s what they are under Trump. I’m not sure if Sasse’s neo-Reaganite policy prescriptions will appeal to Republicans drunk on Trumpism but it’s refreshing to hear a GOPer call out the stupidity on his own side.
Do I think this speech is a sign that the Impeached Insult Comedian is losing his grip on the GOP? No, I do not.
I do, however, think that Senator Sasse’s sassy speech along with the Georgia primary results is a sign that Trump’s grip is loosening. One would have thought that all the losing Trump has done would have led to more loosening. They should really let loose the loser.
I hope that the loosening will intensify with Thursday’s Dipshit Insurrection committee hearing. I wish they’d stop hyping their findings in advance. I hate hype. Hype is for weirdos, jackwagons, and hoopleheads.
Repeat after me: I hate hype.
As long as the GOP continues to be a cult of personality and grievance, the age of weirdos, jackwagons, and hoopleheads will endure. We keep waiting for the fever to subside but it’s still raging. It’s time for the wagons to roll out of Death Valley and chase Trumpism to Deadwood where they know how to deal with varmints and hoopleheads. I can dream, can’t I?
The last word goes to The Radiators: