Politics and science

Continuing to notice the peculiar tone of political emails. The word devastate seems to be at the top of the choice stack. It can be used internally: “We’re devastated!” The reader is supposed to empathize and throw money at the candidate to rescue him from devastation.  It can be used externally: “Trump is DEVASTATED!” The reader is supposed to make those screechy EEEEEEEEEEEEEE sounds that audiences make when a “comedian” creates a totally original and wildly creative one-liner like FUCK TRUMP or FUCK TRUMP or FUCK TRUMP or FUCK TRUMP or FUCK TRUMP.

Reminded me of a much older use of the word in an era when party teamwork was NOT the only thing in life.  Bill Snodgrass was a history prof at Phillips. In class he was openly conservative and Republican. He was also close friends with the remarkable Angie Debo, an open Marxist who lived openly with a female companion in the small town of Marshall. Debo edited the MAGNIFICENTLY objective WPA Guide to Oklahoma in 1941.

Snodgrass brought in Debo for a class lecture once. She gave us a perfectly objective view of Okla history, and then engaged in a cheerful play-fight with Snodgrass. There was no enmity. Both understood the reasons for both sides, and both enjoyed striking a few sparks for the benefit of the overly idealistic students.

In his active Republican side, Snodgrass wrote speeches for Happy Camp III, a Waukomis banker who was the congressman for Enid at that time. He told us that Happy was a dumb but loyal party hack. Snodgrass enjoyed playing with Happy’s stupidity, inserting fancy words in the speeches.

Later I heard one of those speeches and appreciated Snodgrass’s playwork. Happy was speaking in Tonkawa, proposing a new dam on the Walnut River. “I know that you are tired of the Walnut flooding every year. I am just as tired of the flooding, and of the de de de de De Vast Ation that it causes.”

Nobody in politics today could imagine PLAY-FIGHTING and PLAYFUL PRANKS. Nobody could imagine open admissions of pranks. Nobody could imagine a conservative inviting a Marxist to give a lecture. Nobody could imagine the Marxist providing strictly objective facts.

Everything in politics is a permanently sealed Top Secret. Every “election” is the most important event in all of human history, and every pointless “law” and “executive order” is an existential necessity or an existential world-ending apocalypse, depending on which label is attached.

Politics used to be openly treated as ENTERTAINMENT, just as science used to be openly treated as ENTERTAINMENT.

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