And I’m not the only one who thinks so!
Or: How I came to be flattened like a roadkill pancake along the Information Superhighway during the 2014-2016 US Presidential Campaign.
For almost my entire life, I have been an avid follower of the news in general and American Politics in particular.
My parents encouraged me to read the daily newspaper and what were then the leading weekly news magazines. Every four years my parents openly discussed the Presidential races around the family table.
The night of the general Presidential election, the results were closely monitored at the television set and in 1964 I remember my Dad filling out a U-S map as Democrat Lyndon Johnson won state after state in his victory over Republican Barry Goldwater.
At that time, the country was increasingly polarized by the undeclared war in Vietnam, not to mention racial disparity and the seeds of financial disparity as well. Differences of opinion were earnest and deeply held, but the tone of civil discourse was mostly just that: civil.
President Richard Nixon, aided greatly by mega-diplomat Henry Kissinger, brokered “Peace with Honor” in Vietnam and opened relations with the Chinese mainland, even as his domestic advisors attempted to subvert the United States Constitution in an effort to conceal the White House involvement with the “third-rate burglary” at the Watergate. Nixon ultimately resigned and we told each other, “The System works.”
But Nixon turned out to be just the kind of political role model we didn’t need. He had gotten away with more than that for which he was punished and that observation did not go unremarked. It was only a matter of time before somebody would attempt to succeed where Nixon had failed.
In the last year of the previous century, in the election of 2000, George W Bush succeeded to the Presidency under the murkiest political circumstances in the nation’s history. Quite possibly the most clear-cut model of a figurehead ever elected to the Oval Office since Warren Harding, Bush functioned largely as a kind of ventriloquist’s dummy while Vice President Dick Cheney (who had selected himself for his own office) set policy in conjunction with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
It is especially ironic to note that Bush’s father preceded him to the Presidency and was himself a former director of the Central Intelligence Agency. More than a few of the intrigues Bush the elder had set in place would be the targets of the intrigues the second Bush White House would set into motion.
Cheney and Rumsfeld, with nary a day’s worth of military experience between them, engineered a course of action that steered the United States into multiple military misadventures in the Middle East, ostensibly to prevent the use of non-existent weapons but in fact designed to benefit select multi-national corporate interests in the Defense and Energy Industries along with certain allies in the Middle East.
It was a collateral benefit that such gambits also served to fuel a spirit of jingoistic nationalism, a useful distraction from the overarching reality to distract the masses who were required to be fodder for these machinations.
Since that time, the kind of terrorism these wars were meant to crush has only flourished and spread further into the Western societies to which they are opposed.
And now, the domestic American political scene, which once was thought to be impervious to the kind of megalomaniac despotism that once was the exclusive province of Depression-era fascism, Communism and Third World military juntas, shows signs of infection itself.
In his novel, “Nineteen Eighty-Four,” George Orwell writes that the main function of War is to destroy the output of Human Labor in order to keep the citizens focused on the need to produce more goods and services to replace those destroyed in the conflict. The key here is the element of distraction.
In July of 2015, Slate columnist Daniel Engber had already written about Presidential Campaign fatigue.
Here’s the link:
Not only is his proposal ingenious, it’s also most amusing to read some of the ultimately erroneous assumptions he makes. None of us are truly psychic..
What remains to be seen is how far the American electorate will move toward authoritarian totalitarianism. Georg Hegel, the philosopher of the latter half of The Enlightenment, famously observed, “What experience and history teach is this – that nations and governments have never learned anything from history, or acted upon any lessons they might have drawn from it.”
One of my favorite writers, the late John Brunner in his epic novel “Stand on Zanzibar,”boiled it down this way: “Papa Hegel he say the only thing we learn from History is that we learn nothing from History. I know people who can’t learn from what happened last week. Hegel must have been taking the long view.”
Yes friends, those who neglect to study history are inevitably doomed to repeat it.
Hence the current political climate in the U-S, fueled largely by people who don’t realize they are not blazing any sort of new trail but rather are barrelling headfirst down a well-worn rabbit hole with a cement dead end.
And this is really why I and so many other Americans are feeling the effects of Campaign Fatigue so early this year.
This just in!: In case you’re prepared to dismiss me as just a lone shrill voice in the wilderness, please click on the link below. It leads to a story on the subject of “Presidential Election Burnout” among voters long before the General Election is scheduled to take place. And interestingly, the phenomenon is NOT limited to just the current campaign!
Here’s the link: