Call Me Citizen Asshole

So Newt Gingrich saw the much-discussed "Hillary 1984" ad—which was created by this dude "because I wanted to express my feelings about the Democratic primary, and because I wanted to show that an individual citizen can affect the process"—and he doesn't like it one bit (I transcribed the relevant portion, below):

"It's very clear that our current political system is utterly, totally incapable of serious conversation. I don't know how many of you have seen the YouTube commercial about 1984, which was presumably done randomly by some really clever person with pretty good technology. And it's a very interesting, you know, attack on Hillary and modest promotion of Barack Obama, and it is utterly, totally destructive of the process of thought. There is not a single thing in that commercial that enables America to solve a problem. Oh, it's clever. Fills up space in television. People can talk about it. It's the 'Entertainment Tonight' version of governing a great country. And it's very dangerous, because we have no habits anymore of serious dialogue; we have no habits of serious citizenship. Everything is reduced to gossip, attack, whose consultant is cleverer, and it's really very destructive."

The unbelievable gall! The bloody imperiousness!

For the ideal comment on the unmitigated cheek of this guy, I'll turn it over to Drum:

Is he serious? Newt "Language: A Key Mechanism of Control" Gingrich is now complaining about partisan attacks? Newt "Contract With America" Gingrich is complaining about consultant-driven politics? Newt "Let's Impeach Bill Clinton Over a Blowjob" Gingrich is complaining about the inability of our political system to solve real problems?

Newt Gingrich practically invented the modern attack-dog style of American politics. He is its patron saint and its most talented practitioner. But now that Democrats have won back control of Congress and seem likely to win back the presidency as well, he's seen the light. The Gingrichification of politics has to stop.
Pretty much sums it up. Can't really add anything to that.

...except a comment about Gingrich's despicable imperiousness, his haughty disdain for the democratic participation of the hoi polloi. When His Majesty derisively sniffs that the Hillary attack ad was "done randomly by some really clever person with pretty good technology," he has politely substituted "really clever person" for "asshole"—which is all that "really clever people" who have the impertinence to get involved in the democratic process are to the likes of an authoritarian fuck like Gingrich: a bunch of inconvenient assholes. You and I know them as citizens.

Gingrich looks as the political statement of this particular Citizen Asshole and finds it lacking "a single thing…that enables America to solve a problem," casually ignoring, evidently, that for whom one votes is regarded by most Citizen Assholes as enabling America to solve a multitude of problems. When I cast a vote for Al Gore in 2000, I was hoping he would solve a whole lot of problems for America (the most obvious one being not having George Bush as her president). As a lifelong partisan, Gingrich knows this all too well, so to suggest that a political endorsement itself is not also, in some sense, a political solution, is disingenuous at best.

And when Gingrich moans about the "dangerous" and "destructive" void of "serious dialogue," well, he's onto something (see: GALL, above), but then he nonchalantly references a void of "serious citizenship," too—just sort of slides it in there while everyone is busy nodding at the genuine lack of serious dialogue and legitimate landscape of "gossip" and "attack," where a presidential candidate is flippantly called a faggot, for example. (LYLAS!) Serious citizenship, you see, to a conservative like Newt Gingrich, is demurring to serious men like him, because they've got serious ideas. Serious citizenship entails seriously relinquishing your critical thinking skills and personal investment in the political process, because when serious men tell you something is seriously good for you, you're seriously supposed to believe it and not ask any serious questions.

That would be that "culture of obedience" Rocky Anderson was talking about, in which Serious Citizens passively watch cable news and listen to talk radio, letting the seriousness of serious men wash over them, filling their heads with serious opinions. Serious Citizens thusly get their own news network and lots and lots (and lots and lots and lots and lots) of talk radio shows of their own, too, and make them outrageously successful—because they are so properly suited to the format, predisposed as they are to yield to the haranguing authoritarianism of their fascist overlords serious men. Like Newt Gingrich.

For that reason, Gingrich and serious men of his ilk are keen to dismiss as silly—and, worse: dangerous and destructive—the millions of Americans who are plugged into politics in a way they have never been before, who are participating in a way they have never quite participated before, using technologies where a single Citizen Asshole can indeed "affect the process." What they do—create, debate, discuss, dissent—is the authentic serious citizenship. Contra Gingrich, it is, in fact, not "utterly, totally destructive of the process of thought," but utterly, totally destructive of the thought process that dictates the only way to be a Serious Citizen is to genuflect to men who insist that their doing what's best for themselves will trickle down in little streams of awesomeness to us someday (someday…), the thought process that knows a Serious Citizen by his or her fixation on tradition, the thought process that demands of its Serious Citizens silent compliance.

Citizen Assholes have always talked back to the talking heads on their televisions and on their radios and even in their newspapers, but now their voices are being heard as—gasp!—practical equivalents. Bloggers, harrumph the mainstream media, so many of whom have traded away responsibility for personal prestige and, worse, a pathetic veneer of acceptance by the kewl kidz. Activists, the paid consultants, rich from winning or losing, collectively spit, like a dirty word, as they roll their eyes long-sufferingly. Really clever people, sneer the serious men like Gingrich, who know it isn't they who benefit from really clever people actually participating in a participatory democracy. Who the fuck is Phil de Vellis? Who the fuck does Duncan Black think he is? Or Pam Spaulding? Who the fuck am I?!

I'm Citizen Asshole, bitchez.

Shakesville is run as a safe space. First-time commenters: Please read Shakesville's Commenting Policy and Feminism 101 Section before commenting. We also do lots of in-thread moderation, so we ask that everyone read the entirety of any thread before commenting, to ensure compliance with any in-thread moderation. Thank you.

blog comments powered by Disqus