Lauren Mayer: Revenge Of The (Political) Nerds

Many of the most interesting, accomplished adults I know were nerds in high school, high achievers with inversely proportionate low social status.  Revenge for us usually comes in the form of high school reunions – you know, seeing the head cheerleader who snubbed you suddenly be impressed by your business success.  (Or in my case, I ran into the object of my freshman year crush – at a school dance, I’d summoned up all my early feminist initiatve and asked him if he wanted to dance, and his response was “Yes, but not with you.”  When I reminded him of this exchange 30 years after the fact, he apologized and said he’d been an idiot, and I barely restrained my urge to shout from the rooftop, “Unhappy teenage girls everywhere, sometimes dreams DO come true!”)

Sometimes ‘good student revenge’ comes in the political arena.  While I acknowledge that there are two sides to every story, and that political fanatacism and narrow-mindedness come both right- and left-flavored, it has seemed lately that the far right has gotten intellectually lazy, ignoring facts that contradict dogma, and not bothering to check into the stories about voter fraud, welfare cheats, and the complete eradication of racism that fit their agenda.  So it’s been pretty amusing to watch the pundits and politicians who championed rancher Cliven Bundy suddenly stampede away from him once his racist views came to light (on the national stage those same right-wingers had created for him).  As Rachel Maddow and other liberals have pointed out, Bundy’s statements about only acknowledging sheriffs but not federal government officials was a hallmark of the ‘posse comitatus’ movement, which was based on southern racist resistence to integration, beginning after the Civil War and continuing through Jim Crow laws up to the present day.  This doesn’t mean that every rightwinger who defies the federal government is a racist, but it does point out the importance of doing a little background work.  (Confession: I learned this myself after voting for John Edwards in the 2008 primary, because he advocated a single payer health system, but before I’d bothered to look into a few of his personal issues.  However, I like to think that I would have been a little more thorough if I’d been championing him on national television.)

Therefore, liberals have been indulging in some delicious schadenfreude (look it up if you’ve never seen Avenue Q), and in my case, I set that gloating to music so I could have the ultimate nerd revenge – using “posse comitatus” in a song lyric.

Many of the most interesting, accomplished adults I know were nerds in high school, high achievers with inversely proportionate low social status. Revenge for us usually comes in the form of high school reunions – you know, seeing the head cheerleader who snubbed you suddenly be impressed by your business success. (Or in my case, I ran into the object of my freshman year crush – at a school dance, I’d summoned up all my early feminist initiatve and asked him if he wanted to dance, and his response was “Yes, but not with you.” When I reminded him of this exchange 30 years after the fact, he apologized and said he’d been an idiot, and I barely restrained my urge to shout from the rooftop, “Unhappy teenage girls everywhere, sometimes dreams DO come true!”)

Sometimes ‘good student revenge’ comes in the political arena. While I acknowledge that there are two sides to every story, and that political fanatacism and narrow-mindedness come both right- and left-flavored, it has seemed lately that the far right has gotten intellectually lazy, ignoring facts that contradict dogma, and not bothering to check into the stories about voter fraud, welfare cheats, and the complete eradication of racism that fit their agenda. So it’s been pretty amusing to watch the pundits and politicians who championed rancher Cliven Bundy suddenly stampede away from him once his racist views came to light (on the national stage those same right-wingers had created for him). As Rachel Maddow and other liberals have pointed out, Bundy’s statements about only acknowledging sheriffs but not federal government officials was a hallmark of the ‘posse comitatus’ movement, which was based on southern racist resistence to integration, beginning after the Civil War and continuing through Jim Crow laws up to the present day. This doesn’t mean that every rightwinger who defies the federal government is a racist, but it does point out the importance of doing a little background work. (Confession: I learned this myself after voting for John Edwards in the 2008 primary, because he advocated a single payer health system, but before I’d bothered to look into a few of his personal issues. However, I like to think that I would have been a little more thorough if I’d been championing him on national television.)

Therefore, liberals have been indulging in some delicious schadenfreude (look it up if you’ve never seen Avenue Q), and in my case, I set that gloating to music so I could have the ultimate nerd revenge – using “posse comitatus” in a song lyric.

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