Monday, October 10, 2016

The Politics of the Absurd

I had the misfortune to witness on television the second national debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton - the candidates vying for the office of President of the United States.  The President of this country presides over an exceedingly powerful nation especially in the regards to military and economic capacity.  It is a position of such prestige and importance that it is being followed closely by many people throughout the world.

Viewing this debate reminded me of a reality television series in which the ordinary concerns and responsibilities that are a necessary component of everyday living are suspended and supplanted by an alternative universe where absurdity is elevated to consciousness at the expense of critical thinking and reasoned judgment.  

I first participated in the presidential ballot involving Lyndon Johnson and Barry Goldwater as competing candidates when the world was still recovering from the Second World War and the United States was in the midst of its ascension to a predominant position within the international arena.  I have never witnessed anything so demeaning in regards to our status in the world as this second debate – I was quite saddened by the entire experience.

For me, it is a serious indictment of the state of this country as reflected in its politics.  We, as a people, categorically refuse to look seriously at the real-world problems we face.  We have heretofore failed to acknowledge the great wrongs that we have done in regards to our military adventures throughout the world, our seemingly inherent and intractable racism at home, our home-grown violence worsened by the universal availability of deadly firearms, our inability to adequately care for our poor, our sick, our homeless and our mentally ill.  We have yet to really acknowledge the horrendous wrongs of slavery and the near-genocide of Native Americans in our not so distanced past.  The entire species faces the possibility of dire calamity regarding unabated climate change; yet a significant part of the national population regards the issue as of no real consequence.

The politics of the absurd is indicative of our collective failure to apply the principles of critical thinking and reasoned judgment to the problems we face.  Instead, we have been lulled into a deleterious state of mind where we seem to require the catharsis and comfort provided by entertainment no matter how crude or escapist rather than working towards a better world for all of us.

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