We have become a violence-saturated people. Passive violence, mostly. Voyeuristic violence. We love pitting people against each other and watching them duke it out. We say we enjoy competition and feign distaste for conflict. But I would submit that it takes escalation of conflict to hold our collective micro-second interest. We've been conditioned to this by video games, print media, broadcast media, a plethora of "R" rated movies. We eat this up, a few pockets of peacemakers notwithstanding.
Don't believe me? Think "American Idol" and the ultra-snarly Simon-Whatshisface. "Survivor." The Donald Trump humiliation show. Talk radio, both sides of the aisle. The Coen Brothers' films. Pro football. A hockey game is a big disappointment if blood doesn't spatter-paint the ice. A NASCAR race is never more thrilling than when someone wipes out in flames. Dick Cheney’s face-blast would have had longer shelf-life if his hunting buddy had died. There's more.
Violence perpetrated on the Constitution, the courts, civil liberties is too esoteric. We don’t have much time or interest in that conceptual stuff. No. Overt conflict and violence is what grabs our attention, what sells papers, magazines, books, tickets to movies and sporting events, TV ads. We are a nation addicted to the equivalent of human cock-fighting. So it shouldn’t surprise us very much that America is increasingly interested in the interminable 2007-2008 election cycle now that it’s gone über-nasty.
This election cycle is one for the books. It’ll be remembered as the one Americans viewed through splayed fingers or through closed eyes whilst clutching the arm of their sweeties, saying, “I can’t watch!” as they continue to do so.
What’s more American than a loathesome villain stalking an innocent victim? Oh, hold on! Don’t get your grundies in a bundle, Hillary-fans. By and large, I suppose she’s not loathesome nor is Obama innocent. But that’s the drama unfolding right before our eyes and we love this. The closer we come to up-chucking without actually doing so, the better. A puking populace doesn't make for a compelling photo op.
Clinton gets this. Her people get it. They are playing into our most base instincts. And kiddos, we’ve all got ‘em, whether or not we care to admit it.
Consider the words most commonly used in this campaign. Battle and attack. Oooh, someone lobbed a metaphorical IED at their opponent. Booyah!
Yup, we’ve got war right here in the good ol’ U.S. of A. The Dems – candidates, surrogates and their respective supporters – are warring across the whole damn country and it’s one bloody mess. America loves this.
Must be time to release the lions.