We Need a Hunter S. Thompson

Because the bastards are winning, and we must never make peace with it.

✎  Wayne K. Spear | February 20, 2018 • Politics


H

UNTER S. THOMPSON was an idealist and a lover of politics and of language precisely at the time in American history when the rot was infecting politics and idealism and language itself. He knew that the war in Vietnam was not only a crime but a cancer also, that in 1968 Nixon had committed to subterfuge and cynicism and a war at home against decency and the rule of law, and that there would be no turning back and no recovery. America, a nation of bullies and bastards, whores for power and oil, led by a succession of dishonest and greedy shitheads. He could’t have seen shithead Trump coming, but he knew a Trump was coming, and that the fascists and opportunists would fall into line. He wouldn’t have been surprised in the least. Enraged, yes, and indignant. Pissed as all fucking hell and broken-hearted. But not surprised.

Hunter S.Thompson made a contract with the reader, to speak for them in a voice of ink and rage. He would put the bastards of this world on notice, that he would not have their best interests at heart. Rage can be cheap, and hatred is often junk energy. But hate can also be an art, something you cultivate and nurture, a tool you sharpen and train yourself to use. Hate can get you out of bed in the morning, get the blood flowing. Only someone who believed in the best of America, and the best of humanity, as Thompson did, could have thundered the way he did. He chose his enemies with care. Politics, for him, was personal. He loathed Clinton the way you loathe someone who spits in your eye, because he knew that was the kind of prick Clinton was, or would have been if Clinton had more courage. No, Clinton was (and is) a shit-talker who knows how to play a sucker, just like the third-rate con artist in the White House today. Common, low-down, self-serving narcissists. Men who squander the privilege and honour of high office on vanity and blow jobs. Should we not be outraged? You’re goddamn right we should.

To believe in the best and to confront the worst, over and over, and to press on in bloody righteous indignation, in service of something better than what we are: that wide a spread is too much. Trump is the politician for a nation that doesn’t believe in politicians or in politics, unless it’s the politics of raw, brutal power, a fist forever smashing a face. When you get to that point, words themselves suffer. Language is corrupted by the easy habit of lying, of refusing to call things by their plain and proper names because we might discover we’re still capable of disgust if we did. And if enough of us can feel disgust, then it’s all over for the crooks.

Hunter S.Thompson has been gone for 13 years. When he died, the world lost a unique voice of moral clarity. There’s no one like him writing today, despite the fact we need someone like him more than ever. Would it make a difference? Probably not, but that’s not the point. The point is that the bastards are winning, and that’s an outrage, and we must never make peace with it.

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