The Masquerade Ball of Politics (January 20, 2023)

You have to understand something about politics: Every single person involved in a political discussion or an effort to draft a bill, at any one given point in time, believes the points or issues they’re arguing are “right,” and everything else is wrong—infallibly, into perpetuity and written on the wall inside one of God’s own, private bathroom stalls.   

And, in a manner of speaking, they are.  No one person’s political opinion is more important than any other’s.  It’s the nature of discourse. 

In fact, no one’s opinion on anything is more important than any other’s.  This is the nature of opinions.  There’s nothing factual about them.  They can be based on facts, but are not facts, themselves.  Really, it’s the nature of fact, or what’s been commonly accepted as fact—arrived upon through testing, observation, model construction, hypothesis construction or just random stumbling upon a thing and witnessing it—versus opinion.

Now, if you extricate the subject from out of the political realm, you’ll hopefully notice some issues are far more crucial to the overall existence and happiness of the human race: economic opportunity and equity, social equity, staving off an increase in average global temperatures, bodily autonomy and, yes, even matters of local politics. That’s where further brain power comes in, meaning the application of more thought to a subject than just what it takes to say from your smoke-infused, dog-urine-stained polyfiber armchair, “This is right, and that is wrong, and my mind will never be changed on the matter.”


It requires some foresight, some hindsight, empathy, deduction, putting yourself in other people’s shoes, and not trying to transfer revenge or recrimination onto some group of people because you’re too perennially pissed off and closed-minded not to know any better.

So, there’s one issue I want to address this week, which can sum up in its entirety the argument that I’m trying to make here.  And it’s this silly little bit of news: Kyrsten Sinema gives a high five to Joe Manchin for contributions to stymying any change to the American congressional filibuster, there at the World Economic Forum in Davos, and her likely political opponent in the next senatorial election in Arizona thinks that’s bad news.  I see it in some article: how the likely political opponent believes it was tone-deaf regarding the wants and needs of Arizona voters and, now outraged, feels compelled to publicly say so. 

And to that I say, So what?  Who cares what he thinks?  Really, I mean that.  Who cares what anyone thinks?  What matters is Sen. Sinema’s record on issues of importance not just for Arizonans, but for the country and world at large.  (If you care, you can find it at  What matters is the objective record: voting, spoken word, video-documented, whatever. You reduce the power of magnitude on those figurative binoculars, and, in that now-more-sweeping overview, you look to see if her or actions decisions (or anyone’s) are still visible over the country and world you’re contemplating.  Because, on any political stage, again—Arizona, in this case—everyone who thinks something is correct, and everyone who thinks the other thing is correct, as well.  And that other issue they’re all discussing?  Oh, every last one of them is absolutely in the wrong.  But correct at the same time, too. 

Fundamentally, everyone in this country has a right to want what they want out of life in the jurisdiction in which they live, assuming they haven’t been caught (yet) committing any felonies or other crimes that result in the legal restriction of one’s personal liberties, regardless of whether or not the law or laws in question are “fair.”  And if the legislators they support, the issues they find important for whatever reason, come to harm others or put constraints on their rights, well, that’s their right, too. 

All you can do is try and vote the other way.  Or run for office, yourself.  And if you try to open your mouth and say anything about it, you’ll get stuck again in the sargassum of political discourse. 

And the lunacy shall repeat itself.

So, then assuming it’s all a wash, and everyone is right in what they think, and everyone wrong, what future has politics ever really had, democratically speaking, other than to perpetuate a futile tug-of-war between ideologies?  And what kind of future does politics realistically hold for you as a voter? 

The same as it ever has in America, I suppose.  Assuming no totalitarianism raises its totalitarian head.

What truly matters is this: Who are these people, as people, who write up legislation, vote on bills, use lethal force to enforce the law, choose to bring a case against some party that is innocent until proven guilty, rule on a case based on their interpretation of the evidence and the law, and so forth?

Forget their background, their education, their socioeconomic status, their training, all that.  The answer is: They’re no different than you or I.  They hate what we hate, favor what we favor.  They call people names like we call people names.  They had the same forgettable or abusive upbringing as you did, ran in the same cliquish, close-minded social circles as I did. 

People are the same wherever you go. The only difference, really, is exposure. To the worst the world has to offer. And how they’ve decided those issues are important or not, and how they’ve adapted to further offerings of depravity and scumbaggery, of which the world keeps serving them plate after plate.

Political side-taking is merely a front, like all forms of expression on personality (or side-taking, for that matter), but this one runs particularly deep.  It’s like a masquerade ball.  Everyone at the ball knows why they’re there, every disguised wallflower can see it’s a masquerade, every regular schmo walking down the street knows there’s a masquerade ball going on inside.  And everyone just keeps dancing, watching and wishing they could be a part.  But who are those behind the masks?  And why the hell is there a masquerade ball going on in the first place, behind closed doors?

Cease stopping the investigation at the closed doors of politics, and determine what kind of human being you’re watching stand trial or giving a speech or even reading about, based on their words and behavior. 

To start, you need to establish an objective standard.  What is “good,” and what is “scumbaggery”?  Just to say. 

Better yet, how about a term used by researchers into the field of what I call ‘scumbaggery’?  Though there are many, the dark triad theory of personality will do nicely here.  Arguments weighing the merits of pop psychology aside, a variety of psychometrics do exist to determine things like sociopathy, narcissism, amorality, etc., in a person—well established personality traits that can lead to a psychiatric diagnosis, which can assist a patient/client (or criminal investigation unit) in getting to the bottom of some relevant, resulting issue or some confounding, yet-untraced symptomatology.  Which, like it or not, are all terms based on real things that your favorite people can get up to at any time in their daily lives, should they ever find a cell phone or video camera in front of them, recording the spectacle.

This dark triad covers many of the worst aspects of human nature, which can lead (and have led) to some of the most heinous of human behaviors.  Self-interest, inconsiderateness, lack of a sense of ethics, of social order, egotism, the devaluation of human life, bigotry, remorselessness, plus much, much more.

Much more.

But it’s just one way of determining what a person may or may not be, deep down; it’s just one example I can pull to cite how everyone, everywhere possesses qualifiable behavioral characteristics that anyone, anywhere—whether mental health professional or not—can intuitively use to deem them a lowlife, an existential threat to well-being, or at the very least someone who’s incapable, ever, of putting others’ best interests before their own.  Then, you add a position of authority to the mix—wealth, power, self-righteousness, inflated self-worth—and you get many of those in the most revered positions in the world today: CEO, judge, police officer, politician, lawyer, diplomat, doctor, whatever. 

Now, I’m not making any iron-clad points here, other than the one about knocking people of standing off their high horses, and judging them like you’d judge your unemployed, malingering neighbor, or that never-married, single mother of four at the grocery store cringe-flirting with the nineteen-year old cashier. Which is an important start to holding figures of authority accountable for their averageness, and the mistakes that result that sweep huge, consequential waves over the entirety of the planet.