I will give it to you straight. Even though I am very interested in American politics as it affects the autistic and enforcement of their basic Human rights, unfortunately that same interest also makes me reluctant to read news about the Republican party and their doings. Maybe at some point, I will write my own commentary about how the Republican party that exists now, and existed during my lifetime so far, is a very different beast to the Republican party that Baby Boomers and such grew up with. But for now, I thought I would add my observations concerning Clint Eastwood and the debacle he made for his fellow Republicans a matter of weeks ago now.
Part of what got me thinking about this subject lies in my prior article about Burzum and separating the artist and their art from their commentary about things other than art. Again, the quality of the art in question is a driving factor in one’s ability to do this. Clint Eastwood‘s art both in front of and behind the camera is of such a quality that this becomes possible. But his speech at the Republican National Convention was such a profound embarrassment for all concerned that even hardcore Republicans are trying to distance themselves from it.
People who remember Gran Torino will remember that Eastwood stated it would be the last time he appeared in front of the camera for a feature film. Although he never stated any reasons, the fact that he had at the time suffered medical problems that required radical surgery on his back, and to the extent that he lost more than an inch of height from that, was probably a significant factor. But I believe that this display at the Republican National Convention reveals another, possibly more compelling reason. Specifically, Eastwood may no longer be in complete control of his cognitive faculties. He is over eighty years old, so this is completely plausible. And senility, like many other illnesses that are costing our societies fortunes, starts out rather subtle.
Of course, another less-complicated explanation is simply that Eastwood really believes all of the bizarre things he was saying, and that he thought it was a good idea. Eastwood may have worked extremely hard in the early stages of his career both as actor and director, but I believe that even he secretly admits to himself that the days when he grokked what it meant to be working class or even just working for a living are long over.
It is kind of bizarre and sad, but when it comes to Republicans, there are two realities. One is the reality that they themselves believe is the whole and sole reality, and the other is the reality that outsiders try to make them aware of. To say that there is a severe discrepancy between the two is an understatement. Republicans, for example, believe that if they enrich the richest segment of society at the expense of everyone else, the wealth will somehow transfer (aka “trickle down”) to the rest of society. More than thirty years of the poor getting poorer to the point of desperation have put paid to the credibility of this belief. Yet they still maintain it as if not only has it been thoroughly discredited at least twice in the past 112 years, but the economic policy in question has never even been tried.
Republicans also have a strange animosity towards any policy or proposal thereof that does not perfectly fit their worldview. In his career as an actor, Eastwood played many roles that entertain the conceit that everything a person has or is is solely by their own efforts. If we assume for a moment that Eastwood‘s characters in the films he made with Sergio Leone are about the same age that he was, then I have a little factoid to share that will shock many people who think that everything a person has or is is solely by their own efforts. Namely, the overwhelming majority of people who lived during that time did not live as long as Eastwood had at the time he made those three films.
Even those three films make a mockery of the Republican belief that everything they have is solely by their effort. The truth is that Sergio Leone could have chosen any number of low-level actors to be in Per un pungo di dollari. At least four men that we know of either proved to be too expensive or just flat-out turned down the role. The last of these known rejectors of the role was Rawhide star Eric Fleming, who also turned it down, but suggested Clint Eastwood for the part. So even if we discount the other three men in the list who turned down the role (Henry Fonda was considered, but never offered the part, whilst James Coburn, Charles Bronson, and Richard Harrison either asked for too much money or flat-out turned it down), Eastwood owes his fame to at least two other people than himself. No matter how he tries to rail against people making economic policy that acknowledges the interdependence that has allowed present-day society to thrive, in his deepest, darkest mind, he knows that if not for Leone and Fleming at minimum, nobody would even give a shit what he had to say. He would literally be just another old geezer, and probably in far poorer health to boot.
The manner in which Eastwood behaved in his speech at the convention also suggests a certain loss of touch with reality. Even the sixty year old Eastwood would know that when you, the professional actor, are expected to give a speech totalling approximately five minutes, you give the audience exactly that. You do not keep speaking for more than twice that length of time. Even if you are just given a list of general points to hit in the speech, you stay on it as closely as you can, only diverting if it is in a manner that furthers those points. And if you want to use props to make a point, you use those props in a manner that furthers the point, not a manner that becomes more important to observers than the point you are trying to make.
Especially telling is the manner in which, in contrast to conservatives of old, the Republican party of America is not even willing to engage President Barack Obama in actual debate with factual representations of his policies or arguments. Instead, they have tried to create what is an extremely pathetic strawman of both him and the policies that he has attempted to get through the system. Few Presidents in history, hell, even few Emperors, Kings, or tribal Lords, have presided over a nation as bitterly divided as Barack Obama has. That makes Obama, in some ways at least, an even ballsier President than Bill Clinton, who was so little of a slouch in that department that during his immediate successor’s first term, many people who were polled said that they would vote him in for a third term if they could.
Bill Clinton has said many things both during and after his Presidency that have made people from all around the world, including ones with Scottish ancestry, say “wow, look at the balls on this guy”. His speech about how Obama was the candidate this election that was running on a platform of moving America forward rather than the backward his new opponent was proposing is only a minor example. And he does not discriminate along party lines, either. When his former Vice President, Al Gore, pissed and moaned about how being associated with Clinton is what cost him the Presidency, Clinton immediately shot back with a statement to the effect that Gore‘s loss of four out of four Presidential debates (to George “Dubya” Bush, of all the fukking people) had nothing to do with Bill Clinton. That, friends and neighbours, is a statement from a man with balls of Uridium.
That, I fear, is the essential difference nowadays between the Republican party and pretty much everyone else. Clinton and Obama tell or told people the facts, albeit edited in ways to help their cause. Republicans are so averse to facts that they will not even attempt to spin them in order to serve their own cause. They will flat-out attempt to create alternate facts from their own distorted reality and hope that the people who supposedly decide elections will fail to notice this.
It is true that Eastwood‘s display at the Republican National Convention looked sad and pathetic. But if the media is going to focus solely upon Eastwood about this, then they are missing a vital point, if not the whole point. The truth is that Eastwood‘s backfiring publicity stunt reflects a far more endemic and serious problem not only with the Republican party, but with America’s, England’s, and Australia’s political systems as well. For far too long, we have been told that “democracy” means doing whatever the hell that the greatest share of the voting populace says they want to do. We even used to get taught this overly simple version of democracy in lower levels of school. But it is bullshit. In the real sense of the word, democracy means that everyone from the richest and most powerful citizen to the poorest and most disabled citizen has certain rights designed to give them the best level of control over their lives, and the law is written with the goal of protecting same.
Republicans seem to subcribe to a version of democracy that, whilst more coincidental with the overly simplistic, “do whatever fifty percent plus one wants to do” model, also differs in one important respect. Republicans seem to think not only that “majority rules” and democracy are the same thing, but also that majority in this context means social status rather than numbers.
I have written in the past concerning the difference between a numerical and social majority. In a nutshell, a social majority is a group around whom all the writings of law, as well as enforcement thereof, revolves. White people are a social majority in all countries where English is the official language. In fact, one of the few places where white people can be considered a social minority is South Africa. But the reason I say all of this is because Republicans not only seem to think that democracy and majority rules are the same thing, they also seem to think that the majority part of majority rules is meant in the sense of social majority. How could they not think this, when they know full well that the vast majority of America’s population deride them as thugs? Even assuming for a second that their share of public support is limited to the same one percent of the population that they aim to represent, they consider that sufficient to proclaim that they are ruling by majority vote because that one percent is a social majority.
Whether he likes it or not, Clint Eastwood is not part of the numerical majority in America, and has not been for quite some time. Although he is still a relatively little guy in the power scheme of the film industry, he has not really had any need to work for a living since around the mid-1980s. It is very probable that he thought he was speaking for this numerical majority when he tried to badmouth Obama on the basis of laws that were passed on Obama‘s watch that, for a first-world nation, were in fact long overdue, or some mystical spectre of Obama‘s laws and overall agenda that only exists in Republican heads. All that he has proven to the numerical majority is that not only is he not one of them, he has no idea of their reality, either.
That is bascially why I did not comment about Eastwood‘s blunder until now. For days, I was in wonder as to whether Eastwood was aware that amongst the working and middle class, there was cheering and dancing about the passage of things like the Affordable Care Act. And then the reality of the situation just occurred to me right then.
Like all avowed Republicans, Eastwood probably does not give a shit.