BELLWETHER, BY CONNIE WILLIS
This is a book I have read many times. I read it (again) because it’s funny and finding something to laugh about has not been easy recently. And also, because each time I read it, I see something in it the rings a gong in my brain.
Yesterday, someone asked me, “Why do people follow Donald Trump?”
He doesn’t do it on looks or personality. He’s not handsome., intelligent, witty, or moral. He’s a criminal, a fraud, a bigot … and he is cruel. Why do people follow him? Not merely follow him, but treat him as if he is the second coming (or first coming, depending on where you are coming from) of the Messiah?
Trump is America’s bellwether.
He is our lead sheep. His flock will follow him into nuclear war, into a fiscal deficit from which we will never recover, even into the death of their planet. They will applaud his vindictiveness, vicious attacks, and forgive his obvious stupidity and lack of education.
They can’t help themselves because they are sheep and need a bellwether. Without such a leader, they will mill in circles and bleat endlessly into the uncaring wind. It’s also why you can’t talk to these people. They are not people. SHEEP! Have you ever tried to chat up a sheep? I rest my case.
So I read Bellwether — again and as usual, it grabbed me. Having read it at least half a dozen times before, I didn’t expect a surprise, but suddenly, I was surprised. Aside from all the humor about chaos theory and fads, it explained the meaning of “bellwether,” a term I’d heard, used, and misused for years, but never understood.
This time, I got it. The reason people follow insane, crazy, cruel tyrannical leaders is because they are sheep. A bellwether leads sheep. There’s no special reason why a bellwether leads and or why the flock follows. There is just something about that ewe!
That’s how a moron like Jim Jones can convince nearly 900 people to commit suicide and inject poison into their children’s mouths … and why these fanatics think Trump is right up there with God and Christ.
We are not those people. We aren’t sheep. Hillary Clinton got it wrong. She thought they were deplorables embodying evil. Evil notwithstanding, that’s not why they follow. It’s because, despite their human shape, they are ovine. Woolly-headed men and women who need a bellwether to tell them what to think, where to go, what to do.
We no more recognize our bellwethers than does a flock of sheep. We follow them with the same mindlessness. Is it some atavistic instinct, embedded in our DNA? That some are born to lead and others to follow?
Bellwether suggests answers to previously unanswerable questions. Why do people vote against their own self-interest and do so many stupid things? They’re following bellwethers who are loose amongst us, the usually invisible shakers and movers. No longer invisible, we have given this bellwether power … and guess what? He is using every IQ point in his ovine brain to do as much damage as he can. Moral of the story?
Never elect a sheep to be your president. Really bad idea.
You should read this book. Whenever nothing makes sense, I reread it and suddenly, something makes sense that didn’t before. When all other explanations fail, look around. Find the bellwether. That might be the answer.