Romney, Ryan and the post-truth age

I used to rent an old boat for the day and explore the Mississippi just north of St. Louis.

Once the rental guy warned me the anchor on the boat wasn’t quite right- but said just to call him if I had any trouble. I soon found out for myself when I became stuck near the banks of a forested island. The river was high and fast moving. I couldn’t get a signal to call the marina, but finally a call went though. Expecting the owner to come out and help, he instead suggested I dive down and free the anchor – then the call was dropped. Nice.

A sense of calm determination fell over me when I realized I was on my own. I wasn’t about to dive to the bottom of that deadly river but using my own strength eventually I freed the anchor.

A similar feeling has fallen over me as I’ve witnessed the Republican Party come completely untethered from the truth.

Watching my countrymen gleefully repeat lies without shame, and when called out for the lies, in the case of the Romney campaign, defiantly proclaim: “We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers.”

What we’re seeing is disturbing and radical. Sure Karl Rove was a master of deception during the Bush years, but his game was manipulating the gullible base. Now the base, once thought of as sheltered church ladies, are as calloused and cynical as a lineup of old hookers. They need no manipulation – they’re joyful co-conspirators.

The morally righteous party of “values” has officially and without shame said to hell with truth.

Seasoned journalists and political observers alike are watching this election cycle with jaws agape. Romney, Ryan, and Boehner all keep repeating the lie about Obama removing the work requirement from welfare recipients. Paul Ryan outrageously continues to blame Obama for the 2008 closure of a GM plant, when of course George W. Bush was still in office.

The hatred of [insert Democratic president here] has convinced Republicans to sell their souls en masse in order to win. It’s an amazing and historic spectacle. The problem for them is that the Devil is not known for keeping promises. The problem for the rest of us is how to function in a post-truth environment when occasionally the crazy people are going to win the election.

I’ve never voted Republican and was unlikely to start, but it was comforting to think that, however extreme, they at least believed in something.  Not any more.

The past six months have revealed how cheap and empty their leaders and institutions are. Serial adulterer Newt “Open Marriage” Gingrich is their “family values” guy. Churches tell their flocks to not worry about the poor and instead focus on Republican politics. Their political discourse has been further monetized.  And, appropriately, the greasy fast food bag has become the celebrated symbol of their moral compass.

Deserved or not, there’s often been the perception that the Republicans were the extreme-but-responsible grown-ups in the room. While we’re out exploring, they could be counted on to hold down the marina.

This campaign has put that notion finally to rest.

When the anchor gets stuck, they’re not going to help, even though they’re the ones who got it stuck in the first place.

We’re the only adults here. It’s up to us, and us alone, to lead.

@EmperorAndoe


Chris Andoe is a St. Louis based writer and seasoned activist. After meeting John Aravosis at a Chicago “StopDrLaura.com” protest in 2000, Chris was inspired to organize his own major demonstrations in St. Louis, his adopted hometown, which drew national attention. Since then, his activism has revolved around LGBT, affordable housing, and mass transit issues. While living in San Francisco, Andoe made headlines taking on the amorphous hacker group Anonymous for publishing nude photos of a Bay Area Rapid Transit spokesperson, saying “Puritanical shame-based tactics have no place in the capital of sexual liberation”, and he extensively covered the city’s jarring gentrification, from mass evictions to the nudity ban. Back in St. Louis Andoe’s hosted public events on the subway and elsewhere as “The Emperor,” and writes the Tales from the Emperor column for Vital Voice Magazine. Always in the fray, Andoe’s been interviewed by NPR, CBS, and has been quoted from CNN to The St. Louis Post Dispatch. His upcoming book of short stories, Delusions of Grandeur, is expected out early next year. Twitter: @EmperorAndoe

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