The United States is turning upside down. While Republicans denounced the state of America at their national convention, Democrats embraced American exceptionalism, and the spirit of Teddy Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan. While a Democratic presidential nominee recklessly played with the national security of the United States through her careless use of a personal email server, the Republican presidential nominee beseeched Russia to hack her accounts some more.
While the Republican nominee embraces Russia and its President, Vladimir Putin, and casts doubt on the U.S. commitment to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Democrats proffer stern warnings about the danger of the Russian federation, its cyber activities, and its aggression against NATO allies.
While a Republican calls for trade protectionism and universal health care….ok, so the Democratic nominee is calling for those too. While a former U.S. Marine general touted the national security credentials of the Democratic presidential nominee, the spouse of the Republican nominee plagiarized the convention speech of the wife of the current Democratic president.
To top it all off, a Muslim Gold Star mother and father, who lost their son fighting in a war for America, found it necessary to remind the Republican presidential nominee, who has never served the United States in any capacity a day in his life (nor have any of his children), that we Americans are governed by the U.S. Constitution, and he should read it.
That same family then had to defend itself against the Republican presidential nominee, who questioned their right to speak out against him in public (thus proving their point that he does need to read the constitution).
My head would explode, but it went “high order” months ago.
I feel like we have gone through the looking glass, and entered an alternate dimension, one where Republican Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan — a small-government conservative and fiscal hawk among hawks — has embraced a New York-liberal who promises to build walls, build up the military, expand health care coverage, and lower top tier tax rates, all while refusing to explain how he will pay for any of it. One can see budget deficits ballooning as far as the eye can see.
How the hell did we get here? I have no idea. I am sure the media and long-serving professional politicians bear some of the blame. The latter are responsible for decades of hollow promises and empty rhetoric playing to the extremes in both parties to shamelessly win votes. The former are responsible for divisive, sensationalistic, and one-sided coverage (by both sides) to win ratings.
I am sure there are other explanations, too, including skewed wealth distribution throughout the last half century, and nonexistent wage growth for the middle class. The recession no doubt played a part, primarily through the lack of burden placed by politicians on the banking industry, following its reckless investing and near collapse.
Free trade might also bear some of the blame, as it has brought millions out of poverty in the former third world, while depressing wages and displacing jobs here in the United States. It is hard to extoll the virtues of free trade (and there are many) to someone who has lost his or her job, and has not experienced those virtues in his or her own life.
So, maybe we are just in a dangerous time, one ripe for the rise of an authoritarian demagogue who promises to make us great again, and solve all of our law and order problems, and keep “the other” away from us. Populists have ascended before in America — remember William Jennings Bryan, Father Charles Coughlin, and George Wallace — and they will probably rise again.
Meanwhile, I might just write in Khzir Khan when I vote in November. At least somebody appears to have their head on straight about America. Failing that, I am building my bunker and awaiting the sweet meteor of death.