Monday, November 7, 2016

Fear and Loathing in the United States

Well, I couldn't use "Fear and Loathing in America" as a title for this post without entirely dishonoring the memory of Hunter S. Thompson who did a book bearing that title, so I will merely dishonor him somewhat by borrowing most of that title from him.  Or perhaps it can be said I do him honor by borrowing from him and noting that I do so.

Our Glorious Republic, still inexplicably considered by some to (really) be God's favorite country will tomorrow, November 8, 2016...a day which may live in and thereby usher in to the White House one of two of the most unliked candidates ever to seek the presidency.  It's an event to fear, and will doubtless inspire loathing, regardless of who attains that lofty and increasingly undesirable position. 

I say "undesirable" because it's clear that anyone who has the misfortune of becoming president will likely be hated by many, and likely will achieve little, in our divisive if not divided nation.  As I think I've written before, it's arguable that anyone who seeks the presidency is a least a little bit mentally or emotionally disturbed given these circumstances.

Assuming the election has a clear result (and it's dubious whether it will be acknowledged to be clear even then), the President of the United States will shortly be either a preternaturally ambitious, mendacious, venal, secretive woman or a scatter-brained, ignorant, verbose, uncouth, mean, sexually-immature and boorish man.  The nation's global reputation will suffer if either is elected, as the latter will be as welcome among the world's leaders as a fart in a conference room, while the former will probably be thought of as someone who must be tolerated for no more than four years.  Domestically, the former will achieve nothing of significance if the Congress is held by Republicans, while the latter will achieve nothing if he tries (he may be content merely to be wheeled out to pontificate now and then) because he's something of a dolt.

The Republic has fallen low indeed, and in a relatively short period of time.  Try to remember the last time a president was someone of intelligence, someone to be respected if not admired.  One must reach farther and farther into the past to accomplish this feat of memory.  But perhaps we deserve to be governed by fools or crooks.  The pickings are slim if the candidates issuing from the two major parties are any indication, but this is ultimately the fault of the electorate, one would think.  Democracy has been described as a system of government which will engender leaders peculiarly unconcerned with governing well and subject to the whim of the ignorant and short-sighted majority since the word "democracy" first was used.  This election has been a kind of invitation to a benevolent oligarchy or government by an educated elite if not an enlightened despotism.

For perhaps the first time, we begin to see here the kind of tribalism and chaos in government seen, for example, in the French Republic for some time.  In part, I think we're experiencing the results of the decline of the long dominance of reactionary white men of European descent in our nation, expressed in their anger at what they see to be their dispossession by others.  It may be this will pass as they become fewer, by death or otherwise. 

As the two major parties have become more and more moribund when it comes to their ability to inspire or evoke, we may perhaps see an increase in viable "third parties."  For me, this would be a desirable result.  There will be greater representation of views, and less chance of dominance by one party to the exclusion of others.

But why try to envision the future when tomorrow's results will inevitably impact any reasonable prediction of the nature of our fate?  Some of us will continue to fear and loathe, though, whatever they may be.

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