The recent GOP debate made me want to vomit. That the state of American politics has fallen so deeply into a trench of ignorance is appalling, and leaves me feeling embarrassed and ashamed. Outright lies, intentional deception, bloated arrogance, false piety; all these and more were on display, along with The Donald’s facial impersonation of Il Duce, Mussolini, with his pouty lips, narrowed eyes and lifted chin.
Whatever are we to do, America? For generations we have essentially been a two-party country with all its plusses and minuses, but at the moment one of those parties has run off its rails. The GOP is obsessed with America’s identity as a Christian nation and nearly every one of its 17 potential candidates is unable to relate to humanity in the 21st Century, preferring to speak for God. Pious talk about being “pro-life” and anti-abortion is abandoned when the subject of caring for the living comes up. It’s clearly the angry Old-Testament God they love, not his peace-talking, love your brother, give your life for others Son-of-God. It’s not piety but self-righteousness on display.
The Donald is the perfection of ego-hood; why, he says, spend any time talking about “losers” when “winners” like him are available for worship? His campaign pitch has three parts: (1) “I’m great,” (2) “I’m rich.” and (3) “I’m rich because I’m great.” His simple logic displays an internal consistency only matched by his profound tone-deafness. What I hear is (1) “I’m an asshole,” (2) “I’m rich,” and (3) “I’m rich because I’m an asshole.” The whole attraction of his campaign is everyone’s joy in watching how a rich asshole behaves.
I shudder for the Democrats, who have their own show to put on. Hilary will be well-spoken, mature, easily justify every past opinion and decision she’s ever made, smile broadly and try hard to appear warm and likable. Given her oversized baggage, it’s a big stretch. She’s smart and has had varied experience, but if the best we can do is recycled Clinton-mania then America’s in sorry shape. Joe “I can’t get both feet in my mouth at the same time” Biden might throw his hat into the ring. I can’t say anyone will be excited about that. And of course, there’s Bernie. I find myself in nearly total agreement with Bernie Sanders, but that’s not necessarily a good sign of future electoral success; I’ve been on the losing side of too many elections. The big question is whether or not Bernie’s message can cut through the constant media chorus of “socialist.” Most Americans, of course, don’t know the meaning of the word.
We’re smug and like to think America is exceptional, the “greatest country in the world.” I expect there are some far older nations who find such claims insulting. The biggest problem, however, is that we’re all on the same planet (except perhaps The Donald) and bound together by global realities of climate change and ocean warming; the time for rabid nationalism has long since passed. Thus far, I’ve heard nuttin’ from nobody running for office which acknowledges this bigger reality.
Yes, America’s got problems, and we need to find solutions. But unless we get serious about the global issues and are prepared to make real changes, American politics will continue to be a not terribly funny joke.