“America the Great” video reposted from Jeremiah’s YouTube
After returning to the cool and quiet of our home from an afternoon spent with my wife and kids at the playground, I had some spare time on my hands.
“Hmm… what to do?” I asked myself, “Play chess? No, I’m doing that all day tomorrow. Practice guitar? No, I did that last night. Read “The Federalist Papers” or “Origin of Species” (two books I’ve been working through for a while now)? Nah, I can always get back to those. I’ve got it! I should catch up with some TV news!” (In hindsight, I should’ve ended with, “said me never.”)
Everywhere I watched, a nation divided and in disarray.
Steve Kornacki was filling in for Chris Matthews on “Hardball,” highlighting Trump in this not-so-must-see: “Donald Trump: His most outrageous moments…so far.” (Barf. Pass.)
Over at Fox News, I was treated to an all-you-can-eat of crazy, beginning with ‘THANK YOU, KIM’: Rally backs jailed Kentucky clerk over marriage licenses” and ending with “VIDEO: Who is to blame for the war against law enforcement?” Fox News did, however, post a mind-boggling story (“Rep. Jeff Miller slams the Veterans Affairs backlog“) following closely on the heels of a recent report issued by the VA’s Inspectors General regarding the ongoing controversies surrounding the institution and its notorious waiting list. In the report, the IG admits to upward of 300,000 veterans dying while waiting to be enrolled in the system… and that the the backlog is still over 1,000,000!
NBC News was, per usual, the least enervating to watch, featuring an exclusive with Hillary Clinton, entitled, “Hillary Clinton Says ‘Sorry’ for Email Confusion“; whereas the anxiety-ridden RT had this little gem: “Divided states: Kentucky clerk case spotlights gaps in legislature and opinions,” citing (almost in passing) a Reuters/Ipsos US opinion poll showing that “49.2 percent of those surveyed support same-sex marriages, 36.5 percent oppose them and 14.3 percent are unsure.”
Enter: CNN’s 2016 Election page…
Ignoring any and all stories with an image of a red “Make America Great Again” ball cap, I found myself on a page at least mostly dedicated to the candidates. (“Get to know the candidates in under two minutes!” they boast.) With the exception of my personal “all things being (unrealistically) equal” favorite, the entire gang was there! Hillary, Trump, Jeb, Bernie, Fiorina, the whole gaggle! They even included ol’ Gov. Rick Perry, who’s campaign is in a total death spiral. But the videos really were only two minutes, and the information they provide about each candidates could fit on the back of a baseball card! (Nothing to see here, folks, carry on!)
Then it hit me: good, bad, or indifferent, this is what American democracy looks like. Whether inevitable or by happenstance, it is what it is: stupid, scandalous, sensationalistic… and polarized. Watching it on TV only makes matters worse, leaving one feeling as though they’ve been cheated on or lied to; that and the aching feeling one gets following wave upon wave of ninjas inflicting a seemingly endless supply of swift roundhouse kicks to the crotch!
When all was read and done, I reflected on something from Lord Alexander Fraser Tytler, a critic of democracy. I recall him decrying Montesquieu‘s version of democracy as “nothing better than an Utopian theory, a splendid chimera, descriptive of a state of society that never did, and never could exist; a republic not of men, but of angels.” Of course, Montesquieu’s theories had a profound impact on America’s understanding and practice of democracy, even on our Constitution. But was Tytler right?
I can accept his logic, but only so far; in the end, I’m always left wondering, “But is there not a human span between angel & demon? And is this difference made up only of monsters?”
If the answers are to be derived from what we gather watching TV news, I’d fear them being, “There are no angels or demons here, boy, only monsters… and that includes you.”
Between the wolves and the precipice,
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