“…You heard Jack Cherrystone speak to the issue, and nobody’s credentials can touch Jack’s as far as being a liberal is concerned, but this society isn’t what it was — and it won’t be until we get control of the borders.”
While this might seem a bit minute as well as slightly out of place to some, I’m going to argue that this short piece of dialogue given by Jack Jardine while encountering Delaney in the supermarket, illuminates one of the more central aspects of this work’s dynamics as a text: the degree to which an individual’s politics is shaped by their worldview as well as the necessary ‘credentials’ (or non-credentials) that one requires of somebody of any labelled ideology. In saying this, practically, the interpretation is of course that Jack Cherrystone’s public reputation is such that no one would scrutinize the labelling of him as a liberal. However, it’s both the syntactical structure of this sentence as it’s uttered as well as the specific word ‘credentials’ which highlight this purposeful misuse of the term. Of course, one doesn’t ‘apply’ to be a liberal or a conservative in the same way one ‘applies’ for a part-time position at a local business or whatever other overtly capitalistic means Jack might feel appropriate in invoking here; no, the ‘credentials’ which Jack Jardine is referring to here are pre-meditatively non-applicable. While one could argue that there’s a certain creative figurativity given by Jack Jardin here, for my purposes I’m going to be treating his use as purely literal. Because while it would definitely behoove a politician to gain ‘credibility’ in the eyes of potential voters, that’s more-or-less where the buck tends to stop: after they’ve been given that great abstraction of approval which so many citizens so willingly hand proven liars and crooks of almost every governmental level throughout constant election cycles within the US. The difference between this political context which Jack is wrapping around the word, and the practical one which is known by anybody who’s ever worked a day in their life, is simple: a deficit in the product of this ascribed status which we know as being ‘credible’. What I mean to say is that while a politician is concerned with having credibility simply within the eyes of the voters (because that’s all they would need in order to perform their job; getting re-elected), somebody who’s applying for an entry-level job needs to both establish that same credibility in the eyes of their potential employer as well as maintain that reliability throughout the execution of their job as well, so as to keep it. That’s not to say that politicians can’t speak to their own credibility using the products of their labor as well, however, there are multitudinous other power structures as well as control systems at play which usurp the popular sovereignty of our coveted democratic process, and besides, I think most of us can agree that at least in the political arena, this outright method of “show & prove” leaves a good amount to be desired where the latter half of the phrase is concerned. This purposeful application of a condition which indeed isn’t at all necessary in order for the mind of one individual (Delaney, in this case) to understand another individual such as Jack Cherrystone as a liberal, is directly indicative of the inherently manipulative nature of political language as well as a certain ethos which surrounds the political sphere; that the arbitrarily highfalutin nature of the position we call ‘politician’ automatically bears actual practical constraints of the same unnecessarily upper-class attitude. It’s this exact idea that anybody’s in need of any real ‘credentials’ in order to pursue the actual definitional meaning of politics; which is the want & concern for the improvement of one’s community where any individual might see fit, that strikes a brilliantly resonant chord which reverberates throughout the entirety of the text itself; this unabashedly fear-driven means of massaging the mind of any individual with enough of a deficit in personal agency to give the actual job of representative government to someone who might ‘do it better’. As if caring for one’s fellow man at the communal (and in this text’s cases, the locally developmental level) required anything other than some semblance of a working participation in the community as well as even the most miniscule capacity for basic human empathy. It’s both the existence of this ambiguous and ominous mystique of the way in which politics plays upon even our most innately crude and malformed means of interpreting the inhabitants of the world around us, as well as some of the directly negative results of this utilization of subtle yet completely intentional social-cleavages via clever words & phrases that stand as central to the problems of race and resolution which are illustrated by this text.