Number One with a Dagger
Congratulations to Junior’s book “Triggered” for being #1 on the New York Times bestseller list!†
Wait, what’s that dagger doing there?
If you’ve followed the NYT Bestseller Game over the years, you know the dagger is equivalent to an asterisk on a baseball stat: Something’s fishy there. Maybe the batter was juiced. Maybe someone bought a ton of copies to goose sales reports. Happens all the time.
That’s why the dagger exists, of course. Once upon a time, the NYT caught publishers gaming their system, and… continued to let them get away with it. Triggered is still #1, after all. Just because bulk purchases undermine what the list purports to express, that’s no reason to disqualify them. Just add a “Not really!” that everyone is free to ignore.
Like, you know, the relationship between American citizens and their government.
Hey, did you know that Republicans have only won one presidential election since 1988? Did you know the Republican Senate majority represents 1 in 5 Americans? You probably know Republicans have gerrymandered House districts into comically computerized contortions. You probably know that Democrats took back the House last year despite the system being engineered to prevent that.
Daggers all over the place. But look who’s in power!
And that’s fine, in its own perverse way, as long as we see that for what it is, as long as we recognize the daggers, as long as we’re aware that the system as it exists is a thorough perversion of the Declaration’s insistence upon the “consent of the governed”. That’s fine as long as we’re aware that we are, in fact, living under tyranny.
But we’re not aware. We cling to the pretense that the NYT bestseller list reflects actual popularity. We cling to the pretense that our government represents its citizens.
So we worry that Donald Trump will win re-election next year, solely on the basis of another Electoral College inside straight. We fret over the practicality of getting Medicare for All past a Senate majority that represents a fifth of Americans. We see voter suppression being heavily engineered state after state, then fret about turnout on election day.
We ignore the daggers. They’re meaningless, really. Triggered is still #1!
The NYT says so, after all. Sure, the NYT added the dagger, but it didn’t disqualify Triggered from the list. The NYT knows what would happen if it did: The New York Times Bestseller List would cease to be The New York Times Bestseller List. It would cease to carry any weight. It would cease to possess any power.
The NYT prefers power over truth. So does everyone else who enjoys power in the existing system — not just the politicians, but the media that covers them, the voters who agree with them. Everyone ignores the daggers, because the daggers would blow the whole thing up.
Hey, did you know another school got shot up the other day? Did you hear that more kids died? We didn’t even bother fretting over that one. Came and went. There’s plenty we could do about that, plenty we could do to prevent that, but we don’t, because “political reality”, because daggers.
Daggers kill. But that’s power for ya. Better the shared pretense of #1 than the lives destroyed by it.