“Alternative realities” are a comic book staple. Back in the early 1960’s when the publishers were rebooting long ignored characters it was the go-to literary device to explain why the Flash of now was so different from the Flash of back in the day. But until last night, I thought it was just the stuff of fiction. However, according to President Obama when it comes to guns some of us live on Earth Prime while others live on Earth 2. Much has already been made of the president’s representation that on Earth 2 guns are cheaper and easier to obtain than books. Sounds pretty specious to me, but inter-reality travel is not among my superpowers while it does appear to be in the president’s super-powered arsenal.
I have to be sarcastic here, because I find this statement about “different realities” horrifying. One can take it on two different levels. On the one hand it is a rhetorical trick – a way of saying that meaningful discussion on the topic can never occur, thus ending debate. But in that sense it is not much of a trick really, it’s just a slightly more polite way of saying, “Go away, I don’t want to argue this with you.”
On the other hand, it can be viewed as the ultimate conclusion of philosophical relativism. I’m not talking about moral relativism here, where what you find offensive and obscene may not be to me. Nope I am talking about absolute relativism where we occupy different realities with frames of reference so diverse that they can never be reconciled.
There is a vast debate going on about whether the president is simply employing a rhetorical device or he honestly believes there are differing realities. Sadly, I truly believe it is the latter. That does not mean the president is psychotic, but only because we reserve that word for people whose break with “external reality” is so extreme that their functioning is deeply impaired. Nope, in the case of the president he has not really broken with reality so much as warped it. The experts have a variety of diagnoses for conditions like this and I certainly do not have the expertise to apply any of them.
But regardless of that debate the outcome is the same – there is no discussion, no argument, no negotiation. On most issues the president lives behind a wall that is his personal inter-reality barrier and simply cannot be breached by anyone at power levels below Superman; thus he cannot be reached for debate.
None of us on the other side of the aisle have that power level, and right now we seem to be at odds with each other over how to breach the barrier. I have some experience with people like the president and I have tired strategies ranging from childish violence to legal action. I am here to tell you the barrier cannot be breached. We need to come to terms with that. Between now and when he leaves office the president is going to do what he is going to do and say what he is going to say. There is not a doggone thing we can do about it. We really need to quit throwing ourselves against his barrier and instead simply point at it and decry it. We cannot let it tear us asunder for that is how Hillary wins.
When we try to engage the president we effectively grant credence to his claim of differing realities. We lose. There is only one reality. We simply need to live in it for that will illustrate the unreality in the president’s so-called “alternate reality.”