The Last Act in Alternative-Reality Land


hart_gary

Occasionally, a single incident can characterize an entire era. Rosa Parks sits down near the front of a bus. Gary Cooper drops his badge in the dust. Warren Beatty is riddled with bullets.

And then, most recently, a Congressman berates a park ranger for monitoring the closure of a national park he had voted to close.

It is more than likely that historians years from now will cite this incident as the perfect illustration of American politics in the early 21st century. For it is this disjunction, this dislocation from reality, that represents our age. Politics have been dominated by a minority movement that creates its own counter-reality, rejects science, denies established facts, and produces untruthful narratives to justify behavior at odds with reality.


This could all be dismissed as an aberration and an amusement, except when it brings the government of the United States to a standstill. This Congressman, and others like him, did not connect the decision to shutter the government with the closure of national parks administered by that government. Nor apparently did they think a majority of Americans would be outraged by young cancer patients being denied treatment, or veterans losing medication, or the elderly losing home nutrition, or any of hundreds of things the government of the United States, as ordered by Congress, does every day.