Election 2020: What’s with ‘Stupid’?

“Americans are smart.”- Vice Presidential Candidate Mike Pence, heard during the Vice. Presidential Debate, October 7

“Stupid is as stupid does”- Forrest Gump, from the movie, “Forrest Gump,” 1994

“It’s the economy, stupid.”- James Carville, political strategist for Bill Clinton, 1992

We are within 30 days of a Presidential election and we are starting to hear pronouncements, claims, demonstrations of “stupid.” Or “smart.”


Apparently as a culture we don’t acknowledge ‘stupid’ until an election. This is not “All in the Family” Archie Bunker-vs. “Meathead, tongue-in-cheek type ‘stupid.’ This is a public call-out, a political clarion call.

Let’s dig a bit deeper into this pre-election obsession: what is ‘stupid’? Does ‘stupidity’ count in an election?

If you are a manipulative politician, eschewing losing, then the audience, whose favor you are trying to gain, are not “stupid,” it’s just that IF they don’t vote for you, that shows that THEY, not you, do not DESERVE their vote.

They are (ahem) “deplorable.”

Wait a minute, you say, ‘Isn’t this a reversal?’

Worse, it’s first a denial, and then a “double bind” in play.

“Politics is the art of claiming the obvious.”- Anonymous

To be perceived publicly as “losing,” can be a temporary state or a prolonged. verdict: the next act is critical. To call off the disaffected as ‘stupid’ gains nothing. So why do it? To not be perceived as the CAUSE of your loss. Stage 1 Denial.

Conversely, if this stratagem doesn’t work, you can DENY the election ever happened, or was “rigged” against you.

Which is where we are today.

As we near the election, then we can be SMART, which is to say, ‘vote for me, be (stay) smart.’ Conversely, to those claiming they are unsure of you as a candidate for the office you claim, they are destined to enter the land of the blind, eg. “they don’t get it.” “Before you choose, your choosing is deemed unworthy.”

This is garden variety “double bind” manipulation, launched and targeted at the recipient, your opposition, or as in the present election, those “out of power.”

How about those disaffected Republicans, or wayward Progressives, whom you just smeared? Whose vote doesn’t count? Collateral damage.

Stage 2: Double Bind.

To claim office, agency, is one thing. To attempt to concentrate power, to marginalize the participatory process, to demean public agency, is on the path to remove the opportunity to choose.

And yes, this IS “garden variety autocracy.”

October 9–10, 2020



Rodney Clough

Rodney Clough

Refuses to nap. Septuagenarian. Cliche’ raker. Writes weekly.