Too many Americans have lost their freaking minds

Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on October 15, 2020

If the current political season is any indication (and it probably is) then there is plenty of evidence that too many people have lost their freaking minds.

Two months ago, one of my friends on Facebook linked to this Gallup survey headlined: "25% in U.S. Say Neither Candidate Would Be a Good President." My succinct response: "75% of Americans are wrong."

Politics and mental illness

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Donald Trump is a narcissistic, sociopathic, egomaniacal, blowhard. He's fundamentally unsuited for the office of the presidency. The fact that the republic has survived nearly four years with him at the helm is more of a testament to the American people and our institutions than anything else.

For all of Trump's braggadocio four years ago about hiring the best people, even when he largely hasn't, the government has still largely functioned as well as can be expected.

A brief aside on COVID-19

Despite the claims by Democrats, the media and Joe Biden, the government's response to COVID-19 has gone about as well as can be expected for an airborne virus that is as lethal to the elderly and those with pre-existing respiratory-related conditions.

What too many people focus on, and it's fair to a certain extent, is the bloviating that comes out of Trump's piehole. While you can come up with an entire list of dumb things he's said at various points regarding COVID-19, there isn't really any indication that anything he said or did actually hindered the work of the government in coming up with treatments or hopefully a vaccine for the virus.

Joe Biden, on the other hand, will say he'd handle COVID-19 better—and he probably would when it comes to the messaging—but his plans seem to be little more than a willingness to close down the American economy and grind things to a halt like we did this spring. That really should be a non-starter for anyone, but the media is largely uninterested in really challenging Biden because they really are invested in making Trump a one-term president.

Back to those people losing their freaking minds

I've mentioned why I don't like politics on Facebook before. Unfortunately, during this political cycle, it seems more and more like no one can resist the urge to tout their MAGA-ness or Wokeness. There are several people who are just so obsessed about every Trump utterance or Biden stupidity that I've repeatedly invoked the "Snooze [blank] for 30 days" more times than I can count. Facebook would probably do well to have an option to just snooze people until about a week after the election. I would have used that on a bunch of people back in March.

It's gotten to the point that it is just insane. One side believes that Trump can do no wrong. The other side believes that Trump can do no right.

The truth is that even a blind squirrel finds a nut every once in awhile, and Trump does have some people around him who can point him in the right direction when it comes to policy issues.

What in the heck is going on with high school English teachers?

I generally like high school English teachers, after all, I married one. But my forays into accepting Facebook "friend" requests from them has not gone well.

A few years back I accepted a friend request from my 10th grade honors English teacher. Nice enough lady, but, like a lot of people, not exactly well-read on a lot of public policy issues.

Back when Citizens United was the most recent cause of liberal outrage, I was more than a little surprised—and later disillusioned—that an English teacher was supportive of a law that would allow the government to ban books.

"Corporations aren't people!" she railed. I informed her that there was a long history and many practical reasons for treating corporations like people in many instances. She challenged me to describe one.

I took the case of an auto manufacturer who built a faulty car and the buyer wanted to sue. Do they sue the corporation, as they would a person? Or, if we can't treat corporations as people, then does she sue all the shareholders of the corporation. And do they sue the shareholders at the time the car was built? The time the car was purchased? Or when the problem was discovered?

Well, yes, in that case we should treat corporations as people, she conceded.

Fast forward to today.

Now my 11th Grade Honors English teacher is in full TDS (Trump Derangement Syndrome), posting multiple times a day to Facebook about the latest outrage. If you read the responses it's clear he's sitting tightly ensconced in a bubble of like-minded individuals. Any attempts to pierce this bubble lead inexorably to analyses that would have earned me an "F" on any assignment in his class.

In one response to one of my (admittedly long) comments on one of his banal posts, he accused me of using "expertise bias," apparently defined by him as basing my statements on some sort of expertise I possess, which sounds like an attempt to accuse me of the logical fallacy of making an appeal to authority.

So, I asked him to identify the specific sentence or phrase in my responses where I used "expertise bias."

His response: "My statement was 'you are wasting my time with your 'expertise bias' meaning that, in my humble opinion, your comportment as an 'expert' on all these matters seems to create a bias against openly listening to other views and/or considering merits therein."

In other words, he can't point to anywhere that I do that, he just doesn't like to be seen as losing the argument—not that anyone of his like-minded friends would think he was losing.

If I'd been assigned to analyze a speech or poem or any other text in his class and been unable to support my assertions with a direct quote, I don't think he'd be as generous to me.

This isn't good for anyone's mental health

I wish there was a simple solution to this. For every question to Trump about whether he will accede to a peaceful transfer of power—many journalists don't even seem take it as a given and don't include "if you lose" in the formulation because, of course, he will lose—the press ignores calls by Hillary Clinton for Joe Biden not to concede or Biden himself saying the only way he could lose is if Trump cheats.

And don't even get me started on court packing and stolen Supreme Court seats. (For the record: the GOP either stole the Scalia seat from Merrick Garland or they're stealing the Ginsburg seat from Joe Biden. It can't be both.)

I wish people were half as interested in state and local politics as they are in national politics. The entire idea of the federal system was that the majority of political power would reside with the states and even smaller governmental entities like the county, city, etc. The fact that the federal government has so much power and influence over our lives is an indication that we've gone astray.

Forty years ago, there wasn't this much crazy going around. That's not because people don't have a tendency to crazy, but because the Internet has created an easy way for the crazy to find other crazy and reinforce crazy. Like a sine wave with ever-deepening troughs and ever-increasing highs. The mainstream media tried to present both sides of the story and strove for fairness, even if that still too often resulted in a slight leftward shift.

This had a result of expanding the middle of our politics and tamping down on the extremes. That's not the case anymore. It's not just the sewers of 4chan or the darker corners of Reddit where both left-crazy and right-crazy find affirmation, ammunition and adulation; it's Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other widely used platforms.

What I wouldn't give for a Facebook algorithm that allowed me to hide all partisan political posts. That, and an edit button for Twitter, is all I ask.


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October 2020



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