Even staunch Republicans can’t deny that the leaders on offer today have never been more pathetic. They are not merely poor or bad, they are abysmal. It’s beyond embarrassing, and if it were my country I’d be ashamed that such abjectly inadequate people could be taken seriously at all, let alone be poised for a Presidential race. Such a thing could only take place in an anti-intellectual climate that celebrates stupidity. It’s hard to describe without it sounding like exaggeration. British writer Martin Amis published a terrific collection of his journalism on a cross-section of American topics in the 80s called the Moronic Inferno, a perfect phrase for the climate that enables such monstrously stupid politicians. We expect left-wing media to attack Republicans, but it should be noted whenever the right does. The Canadian right has stepped forward in this regard.
The National Post did a segment Saturday where eleven writers named their pick for Republican candidates, followed by a brief explanation. They mostly sounded jaded and hopeless, as if they were picking which gun they’d use to shoot themselves in the head. My two favourite NP writers, George Jonas and Robert Fulford, opted for “none of the above.” Beyond pessimism, Jonas suggested politicians should be drafted since anyone who believes they possess all it takes to run a country is a lunatic, and should be disqualified on these grounds alone. Fulford said it’s the worst lineup of potential candidates he’s seen in his lifetime.
This week’s Maclean’s discussed Republicans in an article titled “American Idiots.” It proposes that perhaps becoming a presidential candidate is no longer solely a political objective, but a financial one. Presidential candidates are assured of fame. Politics is merely branding. This perspective explains why Herman Cain was so stunningly unprepared to answer basic questions about Libya. Even more revealing was his explanation for the gaffe: “I got all this stuff twirling around in my head.” This should disqualify him off the bat: thinking is a non-negotiable job requirement for the leader of the free world.
The article notes that the New York Times looked at Cain’s calendar of campaign events and found that “19 of the 31 days of October were blank.” Commentators suggest his campaign is fake, just a publicity stunt masquerading as politics. Maybe this is true, maybe not: what’s the bigger disgrace? For a serious political campaign to be so stunningly amateur as to be mistaken for a joke is pathetic, but is it worse or better than using the most serious office in the country for such shameless pursuit of profit? Instead of work on his campaign, the devastatingly prudent thing to do, Cain promoted his book. This is a scandal! It used to be that if you wanted to gain money, fame and notoriety from the President’s office you didn’t try to become the President. A blowjob sufficed.
But this isn’t a dictator ruthlessly inserting himself. This is democracy. Pathetically, Cain actually has voluntary support, making Americans complicit. The bigger problem is that Cain is not out of place beside Gingrich, Bachmann, Perry, Palin, and Trump, and too many voters are OK with this.
In Ancient Greece, citizens not only voted for politicians, but could vote to ostracize for ten years any politician who they felt was a threat to the state. While there’d be no politicians left in Greece today if this were still practiced, it would allow the US to filter politicians who perniciously hijack the political system to get rich. Although, it is shameful that this can’t be entrusted to the voters good sense. But Presidential candidates must all be devoted, capable politicians who know about the world and care about the country. Does this really need to be said? It’s a bizarre, scary world when this statement is not overwhelmingly self-evident, but it cannot be overstated. This is a race for President of the United States, not high school.
But even ostracizing politicians is a band-aid solution if the climate of stupidity which enables them doesn’t change. Otherwise, a new moron will rise. Any aspect of culture, media, or even advertising which actively or passively encourages or takes advantage of people’s stupidity is guilty of contributing to fanning the flames of the moronic inferno. This should not be considered an “elitist” view, a term stupid people use as a shield. And anyway, movies like Dumb and Dumber, intelligence only lacquered in low IQ, aren’t the target of my criticism. I’m talking about Fox News and everything else that trades the collective IQ of the country for ratings and money. I am not so naive to believe this will ever stop. Indeed, money at all costs is practically the country’s guiding principle. Perhaps Obama recognized this essential hopelessness and won on a slogan of “hope.”
I fear the media get a kick out of bashing Republicans so much that a part of them is glad they’re there. Bad for politics, good for journalism. But this isn’t funny. This is a deplorable state of affairs that jeopardizes the country, and even the world. Millions of Americans understand this and helplessly watch their country sink into a bog. The focus of concerned, responsible adults should be on rising up; laughter just makes the sinking more enjoyable.
Democracy isn’t inherently good or bad, as Jonas reminds us in an earlier NP article from last week: “democracy is only a method of succession.” It fails without a body of intelligent, discerning and informed citizens. The Maclean’s article suggests that Mitt Romney, “the only serious Republican candidate,” is stuck at 21% support since he fails to make attention grabbing gaffes. He alienates his voters by refusing to behave like a vulgar spectacle on a reality TV show. This is his obstacle.
I was seriously disappointed in American intelligence after the show Arrested Development got cancelled (though intelligent Americans created it), but politics is important. Countries need more than one plausible political party. The States has only two parties, but one is pathologically immature and obstinately refuses to care about the good of the country. I love the United States. This isn’t disappointing, or funny. This is terrifying.