The “It’s Poop Again!” Parable of Politics
Many people have given me advice on how to best reach the public on the subject of politics whether through my writing or public speaking. Some of their advice has been quite useful; some of it not helpful whatsoever.
As an example of latter, I have often been told that in order to fight back anxiety while speaking before a large crowd, I should imagine everyone in the audience naked. After taking this advice, my anxiety only grew greater. I giggled for a second after envisioning the crowd nude, but then my precocious mind became nervous that a room full of birthday suits can only mean an orgy is about to go down — the smell, my gods, the smell. Please pray for the clean up crew.
Unless I’m speaking to an assembly of female 20-somethings (and why on earth would anyone in their right mind ever ask me to do that?) spare me the visions of a potential orgy. That said, I have been given good advice on the matter of communicating with the masses.
In a nutshell: use simple language mixed with metaphor and anecdotes and, if age appropriate, mention of sex in some way to grab people’s attention. And if not sex, use something scatological.
Though I may wish that the vast majority of the human race is ready for, say, a detailed analysis on political change — a bird’s eye view of the absurd political fight for power — I must keep in mind what Dennis Miller once said, “Kids think farts are hysterically funny because farts are hysterically funny;” and thus, I take it as my job to speak to everyone’s inner child as I toot my own horn about politics.
So now, allow me to toot away through metaphor on the very subject of electoral politics.
In the American context, every four years we are told we are faced with the most important election in American history. Our future is ours for the making. Our problems, though there are many, are ours for the remedying. Rarely, do Americans step back and wonder if they are the problem themselves — that their democracy is a constant saga of rise and fall and their politics a smorgasbord of false choices put forward by trouble makers.
No, as though the American people are suffering from a case of mass amnesia, most politically minded citizens carry on ready to stomp out the current fires of crisis right in front of their faces, forgetting Groucho Marx’s adage that, “Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.”
I believe I have now found a perfect allegory for this American shit show captured in a simple video clip. Let’s call it the “It’s Poop Again!” theory of electoral politics.
The clip is from that hysterically juvenile movie starring Adam Sandler, Billy Madison. After a night on the town, Billy and his friends decide to engage in a their tradition of pranking old man Clemens by placing a bag of flaming shit on the old man’s door.
Consider Billy and friends to be the cynical political operators manipulating the American people to behave in a particular way; they present a problem for the people to solve, knowing the people will only create more problems by applying the wrong remedies whether it be a new policy or new leader.
Once the shit has been unearthed and the fires lit, the American people spring to action and stomp out the flames ignited by the world’s troublemakers. Even when they are warned not to put out the fire with their boots, the American people refuse to listen, saying, “Don’t tell me my business, devil woman!” and after a mere second of satisfaction that they have subdued the fires, the smell of shit then rises from the ground.
They then take off their boots, sniff the bottom, and scream, “It’s poop again!”
This, undoubtedly, infuriates the American people, but the people never seem to learn their lesson. They keep on stomping out fires no matter what ends up on their boots time and time again.
In the end, the only lesson they take away is one of resentment and anger, swearing to the heavens, “I’ll get you kids for this! You’re all gonna die!” — which also explains the occasional outbreaks of war drums and populist fervor.
So, there you have it. Instead of stomping out fires right in front of their faces, the American people should take a step back and think of the absurdity of their politics, or else they will be forever doomed to a Sisyphean fate, shouting every four or so years, “It’s poop again!”
"The fool doth think he is wise..."