Thursday, July 09, 2009


People often think that "politics" amounts to the close study of one or another jackass in power, and that being especially familiar with this or that jackass contributes to a well-rounded understanding of what is happening in the world.

In truth, having some familiarity with the jackass du jour can be helpful. But the fact remains that jackasses do not make the world go round quite as much as they would have us believe. The point must be made that jackasses almost never deserve the amount of attention they get, whether in power or not; and it is a point worth repeating under threat of ever-ready claims to the contrary.

The thing to remember about jackasses is that they exist in a relationship with the rest of us, their jackassery being, to a greater or lesser extent, facilitated or constrained by our own behavior.

Once we extract the jackass from the center of our political worldview, we can reclaim it, put ourselves at the center of our concerns, and relegate any and all jackasses to their rightful, subordinated place. We pay attention to them to the degree that they obstruct our goals, but they do not accumulate significance merely by doing so.

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