[I]t is a great mistake to suppose that the only writers who matter are those whom the educated in their saner moments can take seriously. There exists a subterranean world where pathological fantasies disguised as ideas are churned out by crooks and half-educated fanatics for the benefit of the ignorant and superstitious. There are times when this underworld emerges from the depths and suddenly fascinates, captures, and dominates multitudes of usually sane and responsible people, who thereupon take leave of sanity and responsibility. And it occasionally happens that this underworld becomes a political power and changes the course of history (Norman Cohn, Warrant for Genocide: the Myth of the Jewish World-Conspiracy and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, 18).
I made a bet today with a friend in a coffee shop. I had stopped in to meet up with my housemate and ended up waiting for her at a table. He sat behind me. We immediately began discussing politics, eventually placing a $50 bet on whether Obama would win the general election. I said that he would be reelected, not due to any qualities he may have or policies he may have implemented (of which very few of them I am in favor of — after all, I’m an avid reader of Glenn Greenwald), but simply due to the bumbling cadre of Republican candidates. Of the few that are respectable, they poll low (Gary Johnson routinely polls in the single digits, for instance); of the many that are faux-dominionists that pander for the voting block (Gingrich) or dominionists that are true believers (Perry, Bachmann), they poll comparatively higher. The rest? Either invisible or disappointing.
My friend argued that even if this were the case, Obama was Bush 2.0, and would be abandoned by most of his voting block (as a side-bet, he thought that Obama would have over 85% of the African-American voting public). We were in agreement on every issue, but we disagreed on the outcome. Perhaps I’m not so pessimistic as he as to think that this would be another case of the ‘underworld’ rising once more to become a political power. Who knows? Either way, someone’s getting $50 and we’re both getting another four disappointing years of politics.