Bullshittery and bad candidates.

There’s something about an election that turns people into liars.

Once upon a time, there was a relatively small cohort of people who had a public stake in an election. Those people would insist that their candidate was great—totally perfect, if the truth be told—no matter how lousy that they really thought that the candidate was. Election day would come and go and, if their guy lost, they’d say to their peers, quietly, “I never really liked the guy anyway.” And in retrospect, their bullshittery would be described as “spin,” a polite way to say “lying by people who are already known to be liars.”

Today, thanks to social media, we have millions of people who have a chosen political candidate, a desire to promote that candidate, and an audience of hundreds or thousands of people to whom they can spread their message. Unfortunately, bullshittery has accompanied this growth, meaning that we have more bullshitters than ever. But now they have a credulous audience, people who are not aware that what they’re saying is bullshit. (I’m using here my very specific definition of “bullshit”: a false assertion that both the speaker and listener know to be false.) I do not include in this group people who are paid to promote a candidate or a party, provided that they have the good sense to leave their friends and family out of their bullshitting.

E.W. Jackson, the Republican Party’s train wreck of a lieutenant governor candidate, is Exhibit A. No rational person could look at his candidacy and think this is a good idea. This is not a debatable point. Anybody rational who would debate that point now would concede privately that they’re bullshitting, and is liable to do so publicly come November.

We have a word for people who say things that are blatantly untrue: liars. And this is how these folks are perceived by most folks in their audiences when they make foolish claims about candidates, and especially when they recant post-election. If you think a candidate sucks, say so, or say nothing at all. To do otherwise is to support the continuation of a broken political system and to broadcast to your friends and family this message: I am a liar.

Published by Waldo Jaquith

Waldo Jaquith (JAKE-with) is an open government technologist who lives near Char­lottes­­ville, VA, USA. more »

8 replies on “Bullshittery and bad candidates.”

  1. We have Dave LaRock in VA’s 33rd who just defeated Joe May. There is a photo of LaRock and his family and supporters on the cover of the Purcellville Gazette. I was wondering how to explain to the people of the district the same exact thing, that his candidacy is a really, really bad thing. It isn’t debatable, and it’s really, really bad journalism to write about his candidacy as if it is “normal.” It isn’t normal and he isn’t normal. He’s a Holocaust revisionist who supports and promotes 180 The Movie. Maybe that’s a good place to start.

  2. Waldo,

    The problem with this post is that you assume rationality on the part of a huge chunk of irrational people. Rational people “B.S.” Irrational people soak up and pickle themselves in B.S.

    I’m sorry, but a LOT of E.W. Jackson’s supporters are not “spinning.” They honestly believe that he is the lodestar of political brilliance.

    I’d dare say at least 1/2 of today’s Republicans actually think that he’s a great candidate and “speaks truth to power.” The theory is that “the establishment” always nominated “liberals or moderates” like McCain, Romney, Bolling, McDonnell….if only we could get a “real” conservative, we’d remake the world.

    I would spot you 20 that at least 1/2 of the people ardently supporting Jackson will not say, “I didn’t like the guy, he was a poor candidate” after Election Day. Rather, when he loses, these people will say, “The media destroyed him.” “The establishment hated him.” “Vote fraud!” “Conspiracy!”

    You’re living 15 years ago when being a Republican was about supporting policies that encouraged economic growth, aggressive defense policy, and “family values.” Those were the people who “spun.” Today’s GOP isn’t full of guys who would make those remarks about a candidate after an election on the golf course. Today’s GOP is full of folks who make conspiracy theorists look intelligent. Trust me, they will not be saying, “Yeah, I knew Jackson never had a chance.”

  3. Hence my “no rational person” clause. :) I surely don’t doubt that there are a lot of basically irrational people living in their own little echo chamber who have convinced themselves that he’s the greatest thing ever, and I also fear that you’re right, and that these folks make up a larger percentage of the Republican Party’s base than ever before. Hence—one assumes—Jackson’s nomination.

  4. My pet peeve, as you know, is when people expose crap and call it “a myth” as if it formed by itself, sui generis. This is shoddy journalism of the Huffington Post variety, e.g., “Ten Myths About Obamacare.” “Myth” is a weasel word for “lie.” A lie has an author, a myth does not. AND, it’s a complete mis-use of the term, which should be reserved for the sacred creation stories of non-literate, oral cultures.

  5. I think the same way about McAuliffe as you do Jackson. You think about McAuliffe the same way I think about Jackson. There’s not much difference between the two positions, I know. The only difference is the alternate is much better in the LG’s race than the Governors race.

    What do I know, I wanted Cory Stewart for LG.

  6. I come here to read posts like Geo.WashingtonIndepent’s.

    This BS phenomena has reached epic proportion, traded as a commodity in the rightwing-o-sphere, evidenced by the conviction that skewed polls were missing the certain Mitt victory. Or the power of Benghazi!

    Amway! It is one thing to sell BS, but when you start buying your own BS you are a hapless cult member. You see yourself as an illuminated insider, everyone else sees a fool.

  7. Is Shaun Kenney what passes for smart in the Virginia Republican Party? Because re-stacking the bullshit and peppering it with some Latin just looks stupid.

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