Yet again it seems we’re under threat of communicable disease.
In recent years we’ve had outbreaks of Chikungunya, enterovirus, measles and, just lately, Zika. The latest outbreak, though, takes more of a psychological than physical toll, and death, when it happens, is more likely to come from those closest to the afflicted.
And what disease is it? Well, that’d be Political Derangement Syndrome, which tends to intensify as Election Day nears.
Political Derangement Syndrome (PDS) was formerly known as Crazy Uncle Bob Syndrome (CUBS) before the Chicago Cubs management threw a hissy fit over the idea that such craziness could be associated with the team. Uncle Bob was none too happy either.
PDS can afflict anyone, but the hyperpartisan are most at risk. It may manifest in several ways, including:
♦ Loss of the ability to understand what you’ve read. Reading comprehension is soooo over-rated. You just need to look for keywords, and words that you can misconstrue. For instance, if I say, “I hate the weird things people are putting in lemonade these days. Just give me plain or raspberry lemonade and I’m happy,” you can easily interpret that as “I hate lemons. Pbbbbbt!” So what if it’s not what I said? What matters is that you can make it into something that will tick you off.
And just FYI, I don’t hate lemons. Grapefruit, on the other hand …
♦ Loss of comprehension of the importance of context, like with Hillary Clinton’s unfortunate pronouncement: “You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic—you name it.”
The rest of the story means nothing. That whole other basket means less than nothing: “[T]hat other basket of people are people who feel that the government has let them down, the economy has let them down, nobody cares about them, nobody worries about what happens to their lives and their futures, and they’re just desperate for change. It doesn’t really even matter where it comes from. They don’t buy everything he says, but he seems to hold out some hope that their lives will be different. They won’t wake up and see their jobs disappear, lose a kid to heroin, feel like they’re in a dead-end. Those are people we have to understand and empathize with as well.”
No, just ignore all that. What’s important is a short, snappy soundbite to rile the masses. If it can also let the offended pretend righteous indignation, all the better.
♦ Lack of connection to reality. I don’t care if you show me every metric that proves the economy is not as bad as Donald Trump says it is. I don’t care if every record, including his own words, contradicts whatever he says. I do care that we’re in imminent danger from radical Mooslims invading through Mexico, the government is putting us all in re-education camps, and women and “the gays” are gettin’ all uppity. The world is ending!
♦ Inability to remember how government is supposed to work. Saying you love the Constitution is all that matters; you need not know what it actually does or says. Civics class was a bore (if you actually even went), and why would it possibly be important to know the branches of government, or what the members of each branch can and can’t do? You certainly don’t need to know the importance of an independent judiciary, or the differences between freedom of the press and freedom of speech (or that it applies to what the government is permitted, or not, to do, rather than private entities). Boring!
And freedom of religion? Of course that only applies to Christians … the right ones, anyway.
♦ Heightened ability to see bias anytime, anywhere, and a lack of proportion. If anything positive is reported about someone you hate (even if negative things are also reported), there’s bias. If anything negative is reported about someone you like, despite the amount of positive things that are reported, there’s bias. And full transcripts are biased, too. How dare the media report everything! Context is biased! And so is the presence of even a little bit of what you don’t like! Dang it!!!!!
Wait … The Donald burped in his news conference yesterday! Why isn’t that in the stories??? The media’s obviously trying to cover up that he’s just like us!
No, I don’t need to calm down, you do!
♦ Lack of ability to tell direct quotes from paraphrases, or facts from fiction. What your favorite pundit said that someone you hate said is what’s important, not what words were actually intoned. Especially if it makes the heads of editors explode every time they see the pundit’s words, interpretation of their meaning, and whatever fanciful “facts” really sell the story instead of the actual quote.
Yeah, if I see “fundamental transformation” (with the scare quotes) and the conspiracy theories attached to it one more time … (it was “we are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America,” and there’s nothing threatening about it … unless political boilerplate circa 2008 is threatening …)
♦ Obliviousness to descriptions that sound an awful lot like you. No, it’s definitely other people you’re describing, not you. It would never be you. Those people on the other side are the wackos!
Those suffering from PDS often have no idea they have it, even though family members and co-workers certainly know it, and usually leave the room to keep from harming the sufferer. Sadly, when they return 30 minutes later, the PDS sufferer is often still ranting, and probably never noticed that everyone left.
PDS seems to spread most easily through consumption of one-sided news sources, conspiracy sites, and online political forums (or actual political rallies) of like-minded people.
There is currently no cure for PDS, but symptoms can be lessened by exposure to a wide variety of news and opinion. However, the sufferer must want to get better.
Oh, and one more symptom: If you are unable to recognize satire, you may just have PDS. Some people just can’t take a joke.
As I write this, I’ve spent all day out of my office, and in the vet’s office for Luke’s yearly, plus teeth-cleaning and claw-clipping. I’m exhausted, but the boy’s really worn out. Though he’s not as out of it as he was the last time (he ate and drank a little almost as soon as I let him out of the carrier), he’s still not very perky, and probably won’t be until sometime Wednesday. He’s just resting in the floor in his room (climbing’s just not happening for now).
His bloodwork was good, and his weight has stabilized at 17.5 pounds (down from his heaviest at 19 pounds, but up from his rapid weight loss last year). He’s in no mood just yet to show me his pretty teeth, but that will come, as will the scratching, even though it won’t be as effective with those shorter claws (awww!).
About the only time the boy acts his age is when he’s working off sedation. Right now I’d believe he’s almost 14. Soon, though, he’ll be back to his norm of crazy kitten/cranky old man.
Can’t be soon enough for me. I need the entertainment.