“But I don’t want to go among mad people," Alice remarked.
"Oh, you can’t help that," said the Cat: "we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad."
I think sometimes it feels like all of this is mad. That life is getting madder by the day.
And like Alice, I don't want to go among mad people.
This video - the same but in 3 parts sort of unpeels and exposes some of the madness I think.
First version - the social media friendly one.
The second version - the full Franken.
And here's the really important third version, that most will have missed, because they only watched the first version, or maybe the second.
This is Rick Perry, the Secretary of Energy, responding to Al Franken's comments.
"I don't believe that."
If you believe in climate change, and also believe that the current occupants of the White House are damaging the Republic beyond repair - then watching the first and second version confirms all our existing biases.
Franken is valid, he's calm and measured, he utterly removes any ability to engage in any sort of counter-argument. He's balanced, he cites a range of evidence. He's a fine orator, who articulates in unequivocal terms the situation as it is.
But if you stayed long enough to watch version three - Rick Perry's response is the Cheshire Cat moment.
He does not even try to debate or contest the points made by Al Franken.
He merely states "I don't believe that." - and makes that claim in such a way that it's clear the conversation is over, and we can all continue as if everything is normal.
But things aren't normal are they.
And we're all mad - because most of us never got past version one - the one posted on social media, with the convenient subtitles and the edited talking points.
Because that was enough to make us feel engaged and vindicated - it salved our need to hear a sane voice talking in the midst of all the crazy coming from the White House.
We didn't change anything though did we?
We forget that Rick Perry was confirmed as Secretary for Energy by a vote of 62-37, with 11 Democrats supporting him.
There's still crazy, racist ignorance coming out of the White House, and Rick Perry continues to double down, claiming that "fossil fuels save lives".
If we stayed to watch Rick Perry's comments, we're left, as I am, in a lingering confusion, months after his confirmation and this video.
"I don't believe that"
This applies this week, as the fallout and reactions from Trump's comments to a a rally in Alabama continue to reverberate.
When Shannon Sharpe is able to call out the hypocrisy of all of it with this incredibly powerful 7 minutes of oratory:
When many continue to make it about the flag, or about the anthem.
How do we engage? How do we converse?
There are no shared points to meet at.
Not ones that have any grounding in a shared reality it seems.
And yet here we are.
"How do you know I’m mad?" said Alice.
"You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn’t have come here.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland