Permanent shadow

“[George McGovern] is still naïve enough to assume that anybody  who is honest and intelligent – with a good enough voting record on “the issues” – is a natural man for the White House. But this is stone bullshit. There are only two ways to make it in big-time politics today: One is to come on like a mean dinosaur, with a high-powered machine that scares the shit out of your entrenched opposition…. And the other is to tap the massive, frustrated enemies of a mainly young, disillusioned electorate that has long since abandoned the idea that we all have a duty to vote. This is like being told you have a duty to buy a new car, but you have to immediately choose between a Ford and a Chevy.”

I just picked up “Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72.” It’s been on my shelf for five years and it’s about damn time I finished the thing.

I’ve never been able to totally immerse myself in politics the way so many hard-boiled reporters do. But it is somewhat of a personal goal, and if I’ll ever understand it, I may as well start here.

So much of Hunter S. Thompson’s writing resonates with today’s political landscape. Especially the above passage. It makes me wonder how much has really changed. On the surface, we have these great technological and social achievements, but beneath it’s business as usual.

Thompson was writing in the shadow of these incredible conflicts, like WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. I like to believe that my generation has evolved from such things. But maybe I’m dead wrong. Maybe that shadow is permanent.


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