The Cynical Nihilism and Narcissism of the Far Left

With the election so close at hand — just north of 70 days as of this writing! — it is imperative that we GET THE VOTE OUT! However, there is an element engages in the same cynical nihilistic your-vote-doesn’t-matterism that the Ol’ Pussy Grabber, the GOP, and Russia uses to suppress the vote. I’ve never really understood the cynical nihilism of the far left when it comes to elections, especially this election. So, let’s psysplore one of my interactions with one that Twitter has blessed us with, shall we?

A QUICK ASIDE: A twitter user and follower of mine is identified in this post. It goes without saying that no one harasses or insults this person. We treat each other civilly even if I am snarky, sarcasticky, and profaney in the posts.

Cynical: The One Percent, They’re all the Same

It started with this equivalency between Biden and the Ol’ Pussy Grabber! We’ll get to the questioning of democracy in a minute, but essentially Rivera is saying that there is no real difference between Biden and the Ol’ Pussy Grabber! One one-percenter is just like another. Really? There’s no difference between FDR, Kennedy, LBJ, Carter, Clinton, and Obama and Nixon, Reagan, Poppy, W, and the Ol’ Pussy Grabber? I don’t get it! It just seems cynically nihilistic to take that view.

The arc of progressive achievements from FDR to Obama is clear. They weren’t perfect. They had to make compromises to get the legislation passed, but lives improved. Poverty was diminished. Standards of living raised. The franchise expanded. Civil rights improved. A more perfect union was being achieved, right?

Cynical: Being Rich Defines the One Percent

What about the accusation that Biden is part of the one percent? I’m sure he is if you define membership in the one percent strictly by wealth. National politicians tend to acquire wealth by dent of their privilege and unique opportunities. Perhaps The Squad and especially Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez can shed some light on how that works since she famously couldn’t afford to move to DC after her victory in 2018. I’ve written to her office, we’ll see if she answers a lowly full-time citizen (although not a constituent of the 14th district of NY) and part-time blogger. If you have any views on this situation, you could tell us about them in the comments!

Is everyone who is wealthy the same? Will Biden work to perpetuate the systemic and institutional racism and wealth inequality the same way as the Ol’ Pussy Grabber? Did Obama work to perpetuate the system as much as W did?

I engaged with Rivera a bit over the issue. Here’s more of our exchange:

I like Rivera’s point about the one percent choosing our candidates. It think is was Boss Tweed of Tammany Hall fame who said something to the effect of “it doesn’t matter who you vote for as long as I can pick the candidates.” He means, of course, that he would never put a candidate forward that would work against his interests. Everyone he put on the slate worked for him and varied only in ways that didn’t matter to him. They would perpetuate the system, his system.

There is truth to the argument. But, it doesn’t apply as universally here. While the one percent has an outsized influence on our government, it does not control the government one hundred percent or the parties.

Regardless of your political persuasion or passions, the Dems did not bring us the Repube hellscapes of the accurately if not quaintly named Cancer Alley in Louisiana or the nightmare of the leaded water of Flint, Michigan or the near bankruptcy of Kansas. The people of Louisiana, especially, have been sold to the globalized corporate world as so much disposal cheap natural resource. The people have benefited little from the corporate “investment” in the state — the state invests in the corporation through tax breaks, improvements to infrastructure, and reductions in environmental protections in return for few permanent jobs created for the original population.

I’m not even sure what this is supposed to mean. For all of our faults, it is clear that in 2016 real live American votes handed the electoral college to the Ol’ Pussy Grabber. It is not clear that real live American votes could decide the outcome of the 2020 election, though. Russian hacking of voting machines and vote tallies could very well decide the election or the stacked courts could side with the Ol’ Pussy Grabber’s inevitable court challenges to votes being counted in heavily Democratic jurisdictions. But, that is not the same thing as the one percent.

Nihilism: It Doesn’t Matter Who You Vote For

In fact, this is likely to be the one election in which real live American votes could clearly and indisputably decide the election if we PLAN OUR FREAKING VOTE and beat the rampant voter suppression and obstacles to voting that the Repubes have planned for us. If the election is decided by large enough numbers, and all indications are that it will be, the results cannot be disputed.

Remember, ask for a hand-marked paper ballot and vote in person if you are able to.

So, how the one percent engineers the Ol’ Pussy Grabber’s re-election — and why would they want to since the one percent from all reports thrives on stability and predictability — is beyond me. Magic? Some nefarious evil super genius plan? A shadowy international cabal that secretly runs the world a la the first season of “The Black List?”

When reminded that he’s benefited from improving civil rights and diminishing poverty — albeit deeply flawed and unevenly distributed — we get the “you’re just whining because it is now affecting white people” response.

This response smacks of bitter schadenfreude and gloating. It is divisive. If you want to talk white privilege, I’m your man. I’m ready willing and able to discuss how I’ve benefited from white privilege and willing to work towards a more equitable, more perfect, if you will, union. But, to suggest that I am now feeling the brunt of some type of systemic brute force hurt — which I’m not by the way — is just a repetition of the assumptions that many accuse white people of making about everyone else.

And, maybe I need to hear it because my part of the discussion has been so tone deaf. I don’t know but am very happy to engage with you and your opinion in the comments!

Narcissism: Moral Superiority and yet Doing Nothing

At this point, we’re just talking past each other. There is very little hope of actually engaging in a constructive dialogue, but I give it one more try. I try to frame it in the as long as we can vote in free and fair elections, we have a chance to create a freer and more fair society, but if the Ol’ Pussy Grabber wins, there will never be another free or fair election in the States again.

Let’s see what Rivera answers with — spoiler, it is where most of these conversations end, if you know what I mean. Take a look.

I guess Biden and Obama and AOC are cheap-assed greedy white dudes or their lackeys. I guess. But, that aside, I ask the one question that none of the Bernie Princesses can seem to answer.

You know why the only thing you get after this question is crickets and bull frogs? Because they aren’t fighting for an equitable democracy beyond bitching and bullying on Twitter. It is the same reason that Sanders lost. His supporters didn’t actually go to the polls and vote for him. It is the same reason that the DNC was reaching for centrist Repubes and not the far left wing of the party. The Repubes’ll vote, the Bernie princesses won’t. They’ll lie about having voted, but they won’t go out and vote. And, that is the narcissism part.

In the vernacular, narcissism is the belief in the perfection of the self. It is the unquestioning belief in the rightness of your every thought, belief, and behavior. All we need do is listen to the Narcissist-in-Chief on any day of the week to get a thorough demonstration of this aspect of narcissism.

Essentially, the people who populate the extreme edges of our political continuum are narcissists. You can see that Rivera has a steadfast belief in the correctness of his interpretation of our political system. It is perfect and needs no more development and cannot be argued with.

That his interpretation and “solution” are overly simplistic and ignore the subtle shades of gray in our system is another feature of narcissism. Without an appreciation of the complexity of the problems we encounter or the “correctness” of the views and interpretations of others, we will never be able to understand that presidential politics above all are inherently centrist. We must compromise in order to assemble a large enough coalition to win a national election.

In fact a two-party republic system must lean conservative given the need to compromise between the geographic, economic, and social factions that develop in a large populous country. The roll of the extremes in the spectrum is to skew the Overton window left or right.

Currently, we are skewing left. By 2024, we will have righted the ship enough that it will likely be regressing towards the mean again.


You’ve done it this time! You’ve read to the end and now you get the subscription pitch. You’re much to clever to fall for this old ploy, though, aren’t you?

Image Attribution

“FALSE EQUIVALENCE” by akahawkeyefan is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

8 replies »

  1. Actually governing a large, diverse, and inequitable in so many ways nation state toward greater tolerance of difference and more equitable distribution of goods and benefits is no easy thing at best, and impossible without compromises based on consensus of a shared reality and basic values. That’s what drives the gravitation toward the center. It is also what the no-compromise demands of the fringes destroy. One time or another, actually, usually, everybody has to settle for half a loaf and allow the other side something in a win-win between Center-Left and Center-Right. I have compared the relative stability and achievement of something approaching that state in the first few decades after WW2 to a three legged table. The legs were Big Government, Big Money/Business, and Big Labor. One leg of the table was broken in about 1980, Labor. I frequently put my references to the apparently dominant faction of the GOP in quotes as “conservative”. They are not conservatives, but fascist radicals and reactionaries.

    If someone believes that their vote can’t count can guarantee that it won’t.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Howdy Bob!
      Reagan’s was a consequential presidency. He exploded the debt and provided debt fear mongering as a staple of the right. He expanded the Southern strategy and set the GOP on a course to prey on the racial insecurity of the right. He encouraged the rise of the politically active religious right, the so-called Moral Majority introducing the corrosive culture wars into our politics. He also destroyed the air traffic controllers union and set us on a course for diminishing the unions. And, he started us down the slippery slope of alternative facts and the destruction of American education.

      In many ways, all of the ills of today can be laid at his feet, but their roots go much deeper stretching back to Goldwater.

      That faction of the GOP, the fascist radical reactionaries really do want to destroy our democracy and return us to the boom and bust days of the 1880’s. They may not have been so successful after W except for Putin hitting upon the idea of just buying our politicians and the conservative ones being eager commodities.

      Now that Trump has nearly gutted our democratic institutions and agencies, I don’t know if we have the Big Government leg of your stool, either. Unfortunately, Big Money is just going to eat us whole. It is the least caring of democracy of the three happy with any system that provides it the stability and opportunity to accumulate wealth.


      Liked by 1 person

        • Howdy Bob!

          The dopamine of more is probably the strongest driver of human behavior there is, especially destructive behavior or, at least, behavior that ultimately proves to be destructive.


          Liked by 1 person

          • “What is true is that the idea of power corrupts. Power corrupts most rapidly those who believe in it, and it is they who will want it most. Obviously, our democratic system tends to give power to those who hunger for it and gives every opportunity to those who don’t want power to avoid getting it. Not a very satisfactory arrangement if power corrupts those who believe in it and want it.”
            Gregory Bateson

            “But the myth of power is, of course, a very powerful myth, and probably most people in this world more or less believe in it. It is a myth, which, if everybody believes in it, becomes to that extent self-validating. But it is still epistemological lunacy and leads inevitably to various sorts of disaster.”
            Gregory Bateson

            Liked by 1 person

            • Howdy Bob!

              When I was an early teen, a much older cousin once told me, “The more you get, the more you want.” I think it applies to power, too. But, in the history of American politics, the curious thing is the number of elected officials who haven’t made overt power grabs rather than the few who have. Now, that I’m thinking about it, I wonder how many sheer incompetents we’ve had in office versus those who were grasping for more power, especially at the presidential level. Until the GOP Congress gave up on their checks and balances roll, we’ve done remarkably well to limit presidential power bids… governors, on the other, hand…


              Liked by 1 person

              • That’s a good point. There do seems to have been quite a parade of governors caught with greedy hands in the public cookie jar. I grew up in and near Chicago with a front row seat to view machine politics in action with rampant corruption and also no garbage strikes. Bateson wrote that the real goal of a functional political system is not to guarantee that only the best people get into office, but to minimize the damage the scoundrels can do. I think much of the problems we face are due to the GOP pursuit of the fantasy of the Permanent Majority (Single Party Pseudo-Democracy) at any cost in terms of un-accountability, acceptance of corruption, and self-dealing.

                Liked by 1 person

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