My Theory Du Jour

These days in the United States there’s a backlash against complexity. I won’t trot out the "founding fathers" (Jefferson with his home made bible; Franklin’s personal library) but I think it’s safe to say that the contemporary disdain for complexity is not an 18th or 19th century American characteristic.

Ronald Reagan said famously, "facts are stupid things" and by saying it he was merely articulating what Americans had come to feel by the 1980’s—the facts may well be against us. Let them go.

I was put in mind of this today because I can’t help but wonder if Senator John McCain may have lost the Michigan primary because he strove to tell voters that there are jobs "that won’t be returning to Michigan".

Senator McCain likes to characterize himself as a straight talker and unfortunately for him post-factual America doesn’t like complexity.

During last evening’s democratic presidential debate in Las Vegas it became clear that there’s a substantial difference in management style between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Hillary is a gatherer of facts; a sifter. Barack Obama doesn’t like to be inconvenienced by the details. He has suggested that if elected he will surround himself with good advisors because he sees his primary strength as being a motivator of people.

I can’t help it: I’m detecting the ghost of Reagan in this campaign. Complexity is to be eschewed or ignored.

We can assemble the usual suspects. TV and commercial culture; sound bytes and pixels; disposable conveniences; geographical illiteracy…

If this was simply a matter of complexity’s downfall I’d be okay. The problem lies with the red herring of post-factual politics, which is to say that Mike Huckabee tells America we need "the living God" in our Constitution and it seems to me you can only make a nonsensical proposal like that when people aren’t capable of telling the difference between logos, ethos, and pathos.

If John McCain and Hillary Clinton prevail then perhaps I’ll reconsider my anti-complexity reaction formation theory.

A guy can dream, can’t he?


Author: skuusisto

Poet, Essayist, Blogger, Journalist, Memoirist, Disability Rights Advocate, Public Speaker, Professor, Syracuse University

0 thoughts on “My Theory Du Jour”

  1. Obama intrigued me but not any more. He either struggles with the facts or simply does not discuss them. Your comparison to Reagan is an astute observation–both masters at talking, inspiring, and saying nothing that has a basis in fact. This is a trend that has gotten much worse in the last two decades as money is now the equivalent of success and the lack of ethics in big business shocking. Directly related to this is the lack of interest and value placed on education. An uneducated population is easy to govern and exploit.


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