We all love those stories about America’s impending collapse, which has been “just around the corner” for the past three decades or more, depending on who you talk to. But quite frankly, dear readers, there are times when I’m not sure how the country keeps chugging along. This is one of those times. Watch the video below. Do not turn away. Look at it!
“Oh but I don’t have audio right now,” you say, making up excuses to avoid watching this political train wreck, one in which a train full of kittens and puppies slammed into another train carrying human babies and shock-sensitive explosives which were inexplicably packed in razor blades and nails. Not a problem! Go on and read the transcript here.
So now you don’t have time to do all that reading? Gotcha covered again! Here are a few choice extracts!
“How about the rest of us? Right-winging, bitter-clinging, proud clingers of our guns, our God, and our religion, and our Constitution.”
Confused? Not quite clear enough? Here’s a clip of just that part, looped over and over so it can sink in. Whatever you do, whether you read the transcript or watch the nightmarish abomination, keep in mind this was aimed at people who are fond of saying “Speak English or GET OUT!”
I think what you need to realize at this point, dear reader, is that you will not escape from this. You will experience it. We cannot move on and discuss the ramifications of this until you have. So conquer your fear, let it pass through you, and when you turn around you will see that it has faded and you remain, mentally scarred but tougher for having lived through this moment.
Why am I going on about this so much? Well on Sunday I was at this benefit concert and I was discussing the topic of vatniks and their closest American equivalents with some Russians. I had seen this video late, maybe a couple days prior, and as my wife was still up when I got home, I came to a certain realization while we were discussing these topics.
When I watch that video, when I read that eldritch horror of a “speech,” I come to a dark epiphany of sorts, whereby I realize that in some ways, America’s answer to the vatnik is actually quite inferior to the Russian variety in a very crucial way, and the difference is quite sad for America.
To explain let us make an analogy based on the Palin speech above. Suppose we have some political figure in Russia, not a candidate but some celebrity drumming up support for the Dear Leader Vladimir Putin. We’ll call this hypothetical celebrity Boris. In spite of being considerably wealthy thanks to his service to the state, Boris makes public appearances dressed like a stereotypical Russian gopnik, right down to his knock-off “Abbibas” track pants. He comes up on stage, squats, and begins to speak in between sips of Jaguar alco-energy cocktail and spitting out sunflower seed shells. He tells his audience he’s a real Russian, as Russian as Russian can be, and real Russians, who love cheap vodka and carpets on their walls, support Putin. Then he puts on some Russian pop music and starts dancing like this:
I’m telling you right now that I have faith in the vatniy-est of vatniks to say that I don’t think they’d buy it. I mean they might not start throwing things at the stage but probably everyone in that audience is going to suspect that this is some liberal oppositionist who is mocking them. Acting in this way and then saying that he’s like them would be seen as insulting to their intelligence, and make no mistake, being a vatnik and being highly intelligent are not mutually exclusive. Vatnost is about lack of critical thinking, sound reasoning, or moral issues, but it does not exclude education or higher than average intelligence.
Our hypothetical Boris the “real Russian” would be rejected because he represents a part of Russian society that vatniks would rather not pay attention to. The Russian society that the vatnik aspires to is one in which people are religious and virtuous. Their heroes are romanticized portraits of cossacks, tsarist officers, or heroic Red Army soldiers. They believe that their literary classics are far more important than foreign literature. I’m sure your average vatnik could easily recite Pushkin and probably a few lines from other works of Russian literature. And while they lack any ability to come up with a coherent interpretation of history, they do display a marked ability to rattle off isolated yet more or less correct historical factoids, something that few Americans conservative or otherwise could be asked to do.
Now let us contrast that with the key Trump/Palin demographic, which I’m sure shares considerable overlap with the target audience of Larry the Cable Guy, truck nuts, and TapouT t-shirts. The idealized “real American” to these people is a white, gun-toting, Gawd-fearin’, salt of the earth”redneck.” I put that in quotes because the fact is that many of these people aren’t rednecks by definition. They’ll talk about “small town America” even though they’re from massive cities and live in suburban McMansions with SUVs or minivans. And take a look at the gun-toting ones. Guns aren’t cheap, and neither are the bells and whistles that a lot of these guys purchase for their precious firearms. Granted, these types also like to make fun of rednecks, but they also see them as a key part of “real America.” If you want an entertaining take on the weird relationship between conservatism and “rednecks” I suggest watching this two-part video some time.
This seems weird to me because with the way the right idolizes the “self-made” businessman, in reality the super rich, one wonder why they don’t promote that aesthetic and image among their target demographic. It would seem that rather than glorifying the image of BBQs, guns, and country music, they should be convincing America’s working poor whites to spend what little money they have on cheap suits and encouraging them to emulate hedge fund managers, bankers, and other so-called “job creators.” Instead of a guy who was born and raised in the suburbs of a major city pretending he’s into fishing, they ought to be smoking cigars and saying things like “Yeah you’ve gotta buy low and sell high to make it in this market!”
What about admiration and promotion of classic American literature? Forget it. “Hemingway can go back to England! Anyway all you really need to read is the Holy Bible, but that’s really thick so you need a pastor or Bible group leader to read it to you a little bit at a time so you can understand it good!” And recite lines of poetry? You’re basically asking to be labeled a “faggot.” Historical facts? “Son all you need to know is that George Washington and Robert E. Lee whupped those tea-suckin’ British asses when they tried to to take our guns in World War II. The only historical facts that matter are sports stats!”
Once again we see a divide where Russian vatniks come out on top, because nobody can accuse them of being anti-intellectual as so many American conservatives are. Russian vatniks will reject academic research that contradicts their views, but they don’t tend to criticize intellectualism or academia in general.
Hell, Russian vatniks…pardon the pun…trump their American counterparts even in the realm of music. Remember this old gem?
The thing about this song is that it’s really only bad if you know Russian. To untrained ears and eyes this just looks like some kind of traditional folk song.
Now compare that to…whatever the fuck this is supposed to be:
I think the best reaction to this video when it first came out was that of Ed from Gin & Tacos, who said “Prussian Blue added a third kid, I guess.” It’s also worth noting that the Russian song is, to the best of my knowledge, original, whereas this horror show butchers a historic American song. That and social services didn’t whisk these poor girls away to a foster home as soon as this performance is over, because something tells me that these girls have at least a 50% chance of getting fatally shot when daddy has a “gun cleaning accident” in his living room.
I guess what I’m trying to say here, or rather what I want to ask so many of these working class conservatives, is simply: “Are you really buying this? Don’t you see that they are mocking you, that these people have nothing in common with you and don’t really understand you? Have you no dignity?” Just look at this excerpt from Palin’s “speech” and tell me this isn’t ridiculously condescending if not incredibly dishonest, both in its description of Trump and its implication that Palin and her family are working class.
“He’s not an elitist. And yes, as a multi-billionaire, we still root him on, because he roots us on. And he has, he’s spent his life with the workin’ man. And he tells us Joe six packs, he said, “You know, I’ve worked very, very hard. And I’ve succeeded. Hugely I’ve succeeded,” he says. And he says, “I want you to succeed too.”
She actually uses the term “Joe six packs,” a term which is often used by elitists to describe the unwashed masses. This is hardly the first time they’ve done something like this either. Remember “Joe the Plumber?” Reader, I was raised in a conservative family and had very conservative views for a good part of my life, yet for some reason I never wanted to be seen as a “Joe Six Pack.” I’ve never accepted the idea that poverty and and a working class background must be synonymous with stupidity and ignorance. That was, and still is insulting to me and it’s insulting to millions of other people regardless of their political beliefs. When I see things like that speech it just looks like some kind of bizarre minstrel show lampooning class rather than race, and I wonder what comes next. Maybe one day Palin or the next huckster will be even more condescending, throwing their elbows back and forth while pronouncing the following:
“Hey y’all rednecks, hillbillies, country bumpkins, and blue collar Joe Six Pack slobs! If y’all believe in the Good Book, guns, and making America great again, y’all best vote for Donald Trump! He won’t let them Mexicans replace your football with that pansy-ass soccer! He’ll cut yer taxes to zero so you’ll never run out of cheap beer while you watch the game! So whaddaya say, all you Gawd-loving, gun clinging, Moozlim-hatin’, Bahble-thumpin’, stump jumpin, cousin-banging, wife-punchin’, meth-makin’, teenager impregnatin’ hicks?! Has Trump got y’all’s vote? YEEEEE HAWWWW! HYUCK YUCK!!! THE SOUTH SHALL RISE AGAIN!”
And now I wonder if the same audience that cheers Palin and Trump heard such a speech, would they react any differently to that which Palin actually gave at that event? Would they, like a Russian vatnik, suspect that someone is trying to mock them and patronize them? Or would they continue to clap and pledge their undying support?
For truly the vatniks of Russia pledge their support to Putin, but Putin and his crew, at least overtly, tell their constituency that they are a great nation- cultured, advanced, morally superior. There are many other factors which explain vatniks’ apparent though passive support for the system, but if we ignore those for a moment it isn’t hard to imagine why people would rally around a leader who strokes their ego. In reality the Russian elite has nothing but contempt for their people, but they at least make some effort to hide this in their public statements.
By contrast America’s conservative elite give us these caricatures who tell working people that real hard-working Americans are obsessed with guns, religion, and BBQs. Then they use those votes to enact ever more policies that worsen the lives of those same people they mock, right to their faces no less. So sure, the vatnik is submissive and puts up with a lot of humiliation while the American equivalent will be out in the streets protesting things that aren’t even happening (e.g. “death panels”), but on the other hand they will basically endure the most cynical mockery from their own “heroes” without batting an eye.