Thursday, February 22, 2024

Falling For The Heroic Narrative

     For some politicians, it's all kayfabe: facade.  After years of attacking John McCain, Arizona's Kari Lake made conciliatory remarks towards Meghan McCain, who's not having any of it.

     The contrast here is between someone who thinks it's "just politics" and someone who takes it seriously.

     We're constantly treated to the spectacle of Ivy League scholars in office and running for office who claim to be "just plain folks" and assure us of their disdain for "elites."  Yeah, no.  Most of 'em are the sons and daughters of millionaires, "self-made" successes who had only a little of the family money or an inside track at a top law firm to jump-start their careers.

     I was thinking about how reading Robert A. Heinlein novels made me a bit of a sucker for the rags-to-riches narrative when it occurred to me: with very few exceptions, even his plucky heroes are living pretty well or better.  Max in Starman Jones is dirt-poor, the Lermers in Farmer In The Sky aren't much better off, and from there it's a string of middle-class types (Rod Walker in Tunnel in the Sky, Johnny Rico of Starship Troopers, Don Harvey in Between Planets, all three kids in Rocket Ship Galileo) -- Podkayne and Clarke's parents are pillars of their community, Clifford Russell's father is some kind of retired diplomat/spy/polysci prof "married to his best student" and "Thorby" of Citizen Of The Galaxy is a misplaced gazillionaire.  None of them are frauds or fakes,* and I suppose J. Random "just folks" Politicians really do like barbecues, cheap beer and hanging out with the likes of you and me -- but not, perhaps, nearly as much as they let on.

     Those books were inspiring.  The politicians, not so much.  RAH was out to entertain you first and foremost and if he gave you some positive notions in the process, well and good, but it was a bonus.  Politics might be "show business for ugly people," but it's not supposed to be primarily entertainment.  The stakes are real.  The kayfabe isn't.

     We fall for it at our peril.
* Okay, Max Jones kind of is, but he also kind of isn't, since he's the real deal when it comes to knowing his trade.


Garrett Lee said...

I suspect you're thinking of The Great Lorenzo Smythe (aka Lawrence Smith) instead of Max Jones in your footnote. Or, at least, that's what I remember from when I last read Double Star years ago...

Roberta X said...

Nope. I specifically cited the juveniles, which Double Star is not. (And he's an "honest fake," anyway, hired for the job. Is impersonating a real individual kayfabe? Matter of opinion.) Max Jones is dirt-poor, and goes to lengths to pass himself off as a member of the one of the starship-crew guilds, which he is not.