Sunday, March 6, 2016

Canaries in the Coal Mine

Much has been written about this year's U.S. presidential election, and much more will be written before November. Most of what I read about it is repetitive and predictable - the obsession with Trump, the inevitability of Clinton, the party establishments versus the unconventional candidates. But, all of that is merely window dressing on the main issue, which is the state of the country itself. American presidential elections are disappointing at the best of times. Rarely do you see a candidate emerge who would actually be the best possible president for the country. The system encourages sociopathic corporate sellouts to run. And, apart from rhetoric, little changes with the elections regardless of which party currently holds the White House. There is the usual divisiveness and anger from each side and the claim that, if only their candidate could be elected and unimpeded by an uncooperative partisan congress, then American could be "great again" (whatever that means is of course widely variable depending on the party). The entire four year presidential election cycle is the very definition of insanity: "Doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results." 

For outsiders such as myself, it is easy to look at the candidates, especially the more clown-like ones such as Cruz and Trump, and dismiss them as buffoons who shouldn't be running for office. But, like mold that creeps into the damp corners of a bathroom, strange and idiotic politicians will inevitably emerge to match whatever strange and idiotic desires voters have. People like to blame the politicians and roll their eyes at the latest personification of insanity that the parties offer up, but really they just represent the desires of the electorate. 

So far this election is different in both the level of weirdness in the candidates but also in the longevity of the perhaps the weirdest of candidates, Trump. There have been ridiculous candidates before, but they have typically faded early in favour of more predictable and established candidates. I propose that the shift this year is representative of a shift in the electorate. A shift away from issues to entertainment. Entertainment has always been part of politics, particularly in America, but this year it entertainment seems to be dominating. Watching Trump give a speech, one is struck by his inability to speak clearly to any particular issue, and by the entertainment he offers those tuning in. Since Roman times and before, entertainment as politics is a bad sign. A sign that the issues facing the country are so dire that the people have given up hope of them being solved. One can't help but wonder if deep inside most Americans recognize that the problem of terrorism (or at least the perception of the problem, since it really isn't a significant problem at all) will ever go away. The issue of American engagement in wars in the Middle East is perhaps something Americans are beginning to realize will never end. The fragility of the economy is not something likely to turn around anytime soon, regardless of who is in the Oval Office. So, perhaps Americans are subconsciously giving up hope for solutions to these problems and are instead turning to politicians to be entertained and pacified. 

If so, this is a very dire sign for America. It is a sign that America is beyond hope in returning to any sort of economic or global greatness, at least of the sort that many Americans seem to yearn for. In short, it is a sign that the American Empire is in its final throes. The self-serving buffoons running for president this year, while odious and slimy, are nothing more than a representation of that shift. They are the canaries in the coal mine, indicating that the possibility of any real political solutions is beyond hope.

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