Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The Cliché of the Day Award Goes To.... "Soul Searching"

Time spent writing: 3 hours
What I did: Revising civil religion essay
Grade for the day: C



Washington DC must look like a giant game of Pokémon Go. Democrats wandering around everywhere--searching.... searching for their souls. 

I mean, just look at the headlines: 
"Democrats Begin Period of Soul Searching, Jockeying After Clinton Loss"
But it's not just Democrats. The media is also on a spiritual quest.
"Journalists Must Make Time for 'Soul Searching' After Election
OK, I suppose we all need a game of hide-and-go-seek with our souls.
"America Left With A Lot Of Soul-Searching To Do After The Election"
But you know what, maybe all of this interior stuff is a huge waste of time.
"Too Much Soul-Searching, Not Enough Action"

So "soul searching" is a thing. And it happens in politics, but only after elections.

Why?

Maybe because it pings off of Christian narratives of conversion. It's a familiar story, an easy point of reference. Conversions are about someone making a turnaround after a lengthy period of hard introspection. They wrestle with the person that they are, in an effort to become the person that they aspire to be. These can be dramatic accounts, told with a heavy emphasis on divine intervention, grace, and redemption.

Conversion stories, in other words, are feel-good stories. They tell us that we can change. All we have to do is work for it and wait for the right moment. When applied to the political sphere, it gives a defeated party some hope that things will get better. Regroup, transform, and advance.

But we've been to this rodeo before.

Remember 2012? Of course not. That's like six iPhones ago. Here's a refresher: Mitt Romney lost and exit polls pointed to a major "demographic shift" in the American electorate.

What came next? Headlines like:
"GOP Soul-Searching: 'Too Old, Too White, Too Male'?"
So, um... that soul searching sure did produce a major change in GOP thinking, right? Right? Somebody?

Will the Democrats post-2016 be any different? Probably not. It's safe to assume that the Trump years will make the Obama years look like Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. And by 2020 (barring the zombie apocalypse or a robot uprising), we will have another presidential election. It will be lengthy, divisive, and tiresome.

When it's over, one side will win. As for the other... you guessed it. Soul searching. And lots of it.

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