Americans demand the absurd and the impossible.
Says the anarchist who has spent months criticizing Gary Johnson, right? Oh, don’t worry. I’m going to continue doing so, but that isn’t what I’m getting at. My demands are reasonable, I would argue: I want a Libertarian presidential candidate to actually be a libertarian. What I’m seeing from Americans, however, is entirely unreasonable: they want candidates who have all the answers.
In fact, Americans absolutely hate it if a presidential candidate reveals that they don’t know everything. Realistically, even the most uninformed American has to accept the reality that too much bullshit happens on a daily basis for anyone to keep track of. However, that’s not the way this works. Politicians are supposed to know everything and are supposed to have all the answers, and if they show for even a second that they don’t, then it is taken as a weakness.
Already, Johnson is being criticized for this. I’m all for criticizing Gary Johnson–when he deserves it. But here you’re going to criticize a man for not knowing everything? What are you going to do about the situation in the South China Sea? What are you going to do about the situation in Mecca, and what the Saudis have said about Indians? These sort of questions cut both ways.
“But we should expect a presidential candidate to know everything that is relevant!” some might argue.
And that’s true, to a degree, but do you have any idea how much shit happens that is considered relevant?
It’s not about Aleppo, though people are gearing up to make out like they know what Aleppo is, and that they’ve always known what Aleppo is.
These people don’t care about Aleppo. Until this morning, I didn’t know what Aleppo was, and when I saw the word I assumed it was some kind of medication. I’m not ashamed of that. Why should I be? You can’t expect people to know everything, presidential candidate or otherwise. Do you have any idea how much information is being shoved at Gary Johnson on a constant basis? He’s not Bruce Wayne.
It’s simply about the fact that Gary Johnson admitted that he didn’t know.
That was the point at which a politician should have deflected and gone off into a completely different answer–you know, how all the other politicians do. When asked a question they don’t have the answer to, Rule 1 for politicians is to bring up something else, “related” or “unrelated” is irrelevant. A politician in Johnson’s position should have brought up the drug war, police violence, or just about anything.
But he didn’t.
He admitted that he didn’t know something.
That, to Americans, is the utmost of heresies.
A century of statism, interventionism, and fascism have left us under the impression that the state has all the answers, and that delusion can only be maintained if we are allowed to labor under the belief that politicians are different from us, better than us, above us. If they admit they don’t know something, these representatives of the all-knowing state, then they are admitting that the state is fallible, that the state might make a mistake.
And that, to Americans, is heresy.
The same thing happened when Donald Trump humbly said that no one should listen to him about Brexit, because he didn’t know enough about it. Americans don’t care what your answer is. Just pretend to have an answer for them. Just pretend that you know. No matter how unrelated to the question your answer is, just never say that you don’t know something. Donald Trump, crowned by the media for some reason as the king of egotism, admitted to not knowing something, and people flipped out.
Now they’re doing it again.
Because the state has all the answers, we’ve been told. The state can solve every problem. The government knows everything, is never wrong, and can do anything. It is infallible and perfect.
And how can the state be infallible and perfect if the politicians that represent the state don’t know something?
A politician saying that he doesn’t know something makes us see right through the cracks in the absurd notion that the state knows everything and has all the answers, and that’s something that we can no longer handle. We have come to rely on that insane delusion–it is the pacifier we suck on as the world falls apart.
“How can the state be perfect and infallible if its representative is not?” is a question the average American simply can’t handle after decades of fascism and promises that the state can fix everything. To the average American, this was outright heresy against the cult of the state, forcing them for just a moment to see that the emperor isn’t wearing any clothes, and that’s something they aren’t able to do right now.
It’s revealing that we only half-heartedly attack politicians for going off on unrelated tangents when asked simple questions (something libertarian candidates do not do–seriously, have you not watched the Stossel Debate? Libertarian candidates answer the questions they’re asked.). “Hillary was asked about Bengazi, why the fuck is she talking about Trump’s statements about the Khan family?” we ask, but we don’t hold it against Hillary. In fact, we expect that sort of behavior.
We love that sort of behavior, even as we pretend to condemn it, because that is the sort of thing that allows our delusion that the state is omniscient and omnipotent to persist. If Hillary said, “I don’t know. I’m just a human being, after all. I guess I fucked up,” then that would decimate her chances of winning the election. But launching into a refrain against Trump? That won’t hurt her at all. Just ponder that for a moment. It is clear why this is the case. In fact, I’ve said it several times:
Because it is heresy to reveal that the state is not omniscient and omnipotent.
In the cult of the state, it is heresy to suggest that the state is fallible, imperfect, or not omniscient.