The Authenticity Phoenix Rising from the Ashes

With the current can-you-top-this-Kurt-Vonnegut political season, a new political map is being drawn in the United States. Our current political system is steeped in bullshit. That much is clear to anyone with eyes, ears and a nose. This has engendered a massive reaction that extends throughout the political continuum from far left to far right.

The cri de coeur that’s emerging goes something like this: No lies, no phoniness, no disenfranchisement. A contest between two reality tunnels is emerging: the Establishment tunnel and what I’ve come to think of as the Authenticity tunnel.

The Authenticity party (such as it is) has different wings. There’s the “get government off my lawn wing”—that’s the Tea Party right, and I guess you could drop libertarians into the same pot. There’s the “make government an agent of good” wing—that’s the Bernie Sanders left. And then there’s the “authenticity makes it okay for me to tell the entire world that I have a big dick” wing. That’s the Trump Gang, of course, which I think of as the Vulgarian wing of the Authenticity party. (One can also think of it as the Post-Political, Just-Pissed-Off branch.)

Thus on the one hand you have the Democrats and Republicans, which while wildly different in my view can also reasonably be seen as the Wednesday and Thursday variants of the slop they put on your plate at the local prison. On the other, you have the Authenticity party with its three main cohorts—left, right and Vulgarian.

The origins of this go back to the legendary 1960s, which was an authenticity movement as much as an anti-war one. That’s a long gestation, with lengthy time-outs for things like Reagan and cocaine.

Ironically, there already is an Authenticity Party, although not in this country. It’s an ultra-conservative, pro-Sharia party in Egypt that was banned in 2011. That’s the thing about authenticity; it means different things to different people. In the United States, it means the alternative to a political culture that’s come to be viewed as corrupt and phony through and through. Maybe a happy alternative will emerge. I hope so! The Truth and Wisdom party? Right now, I’m not seeing it, though.

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