"Nowhere are prejudices more mistaken for truth, passion for reason, and invective for documentation than in politics. This is a realm, peopled only by villains or heroes, in which everything is black or white and gray is a forbidden color." —John Mason Brown, "Through These Men" (1956)
People, individually, can be just fine, but in groups—or as I like to call them, herds—are stupid, deluded, infantile, and murderous. And that's a fact. This is nowhere more evident than in politics, which more than anything else is a herd phenomenon. The enormity of these bad qualities is so destructive I wish politics didn't exist.
I've met "conservatives" who called Bush "my President" (in 1938 they would have been saying "mein Fuhrer") and who were convinced Obama was a monster who was going to give America to Muslims. Then, of course, I've met "liberals" who thought Bush was the anti-Christ and Obama was the Messiah.
Both groups are overflowing with fools. There's about a dime's worth of difference between Bush and Obama. They are, after all, professional politicians, who are lower than child molesters and serial killers, because they've killed and maimed hundreds of millions of people throughout history.
And yet, some people—far too many!—worship their political party and the politicians in it. Why in the world some people seek a leader to worship is beyond me. But when they do, they automatically see those of a different party not merely as mistaken, but as evil. And that is what John Mason Brown, among many others, has noticed.
Herds seek herd leaders. I suppose, and even though politics is based on force and fraud (and the worst get on top, as Friedrich Hayek noticed) the herd can't see this and instead idealizes and worships the worst people, the ones who century after century have started wars, taken away freedoms, destroyed societies. Talk about self-deluded!
There is no grey in politics, only the belief in black and white, good and evil. When one herd of people sees itself as good—and such goodness in a herd is utterly impossible—they are going to project all their unacknowledged badness onto another herd. "Conservatives" do it to "liberals" and "liberals" do it to "conservatives."
Politics by its very nature sets people at each other's throats. You'd think people could easily see this, considering the political wars of the 20th Century costs the lives of 177 million to 200 million people, but even with that unbelievable slaughter they still can't see it.
Perhaps some people's lives are so empty and boring they seek the quickest fix for it, which is politics. Maybe they find it exciting. I sure don't. It'd be a lot less trouble for the world if political junkies were instead heroin addicts.
After all, Chris Hedges, in his book, "War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning," wrote: "The enduring attraction of war is this: Even with its destruction and carnage it can give us what we long for in life. It can give us purpose, meaning, a reason for living. Only when we are in the midst of conflict does the shallowness and vapidness of much of our lives become apparent. Trivia dominates our conversations and increasingly our airwaves. And war is an enticing elixir. It gives us resolve, a cause. It allows us to be noble."
I think a good example of this quick-fix excitement is in the movie, "The Triumph of the Will," about how Germany responded to Hitler. There is a scene, right at the beginning, in which Hitler is standing in an open car as it travels down a road with thousands of worshipping, smiling people on both sides.
They are clearly worshipping Hitler. And Hitler has a smug, satisfied smile on his face, one that says, "They love me!" Just like that, one of the worst leaders of the 20th Century drives by them, and the herd turns into grinning, worshipping morons.
Maybe that's the problem with politics. It's too easy for people to get excited by it, to exalt themselves and their herd, to cast their problems onto innocent people. If this is true—and I think it is—then politics, by its nature, appeals to the worst in people. Try as hard as it can, politics cannot appeal to their best.
That is why I wish politics didn't exist.