As humankind progression goes we're in an incredible technological age. As an evolved species about 200,000 years on a planet as old as 4.5 billion years, we've boldly gone into space, killed off diseases that hitherto wreaked havoc on the earth and, hopefully, we've learned from the carnage of the past and now have less and less an appetite for large-scale war. And too, we've made incredible strides in medicine prolonging life in a way that suggests that in the next immediate decades living to 100 years will be the routine, the norm -- not the exception.
Today, mobile communications, instant messaging, and global inter-connectedness are modern daily occurrences. From smart phones to wearable technology humans have evolved into the most sophisticated and consummeristic of all pervious generations. We're the truly Nescafe Generation -- we want everything now, in real time, no waiting -- period.
And, correspondingly, we've become the most stupid, gullible and sheep-like generation. But don't get me started about sheep -- they bleat too much plus I just don't like them very much. Too easily led, influenced and way, way too meek.
This dumbing down of America is now in real earnest. From politics to SATs, and anything in between, we're now defined by 140 characters that is a mixture of letters, words and numbers sent over our iPhones and Android devices We have become self-righteous pontificators on such social media sites as Facebook where we can become armchair generals one day and downright hateful dicks the next day without ever having to disclose our true identities or leave the comfort of our homes. In this setting racism has been given a brand new lease on life in vivid reincarnations on a daily basis -- putrid, cowardly and incessant.
Nowhere is this dumbing down more apparent than in the political arena, in particular, the United States presidential elections of 2016. When a cartoonish, reactionary bombastic businessman who never held political office in his life is poised to possibly be the next president of the USA, then as President Obama recently told thousands of Rutgers University graduating students: "ignorance is not a virtue."
But, Mr. President, ignorance is pervasive in this society today, especially in the political arena. Today's, political discourse is driven on the Right by an opportunistic charlatan demagogue and a voter base that is angry, emotional, disconnected and ill-informed, even stupid, and is swayed by hateful rhetoric, attacks on women, attacks on "the other" -- Muslims, immigrants and Mexicans. On the Left there is anger at a the new meritocratic class that is just as arrogant as the elites on the Right that this voter base sees as having abandoned the ideals and programs of the New Deal. This meritocracy is now the ardent slaves and lackeys of Wall Street.
Then there is a large disenchanted, disillusioned and apathetic group that gets its news and information in carefully crafted sound bites from mainstream cable television and radio that long ago abandoned the basics of informing, educating and entertaining, in favor of spin, innuendo, sensationalism, and a hollow, vapid amalgamation of news flash, celebrity entertainment packaged as news. Regurgitated over and over again in endless nauseating cycles of "breaking news."
Speak to young people and they will quickly tell you that they don't look at cable news because it's to shallow, too overbearingly political, and too negative. No wonder that they are so uninformed and rely on social media for their news and information. Now, when a majority of Republican voters resoundingly rejected so-called "establishment" politicians in favor of a boorish, crude, boastful and former reality TV entertainer, then you know that the old critical thinking practice is all but dead and gone.
To be sure, BOTH the Republican and Democratic Party candidates, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, have the highest unfavorability ratings in American presidential campaign history. Trump, the GOP's presumptive nominee, is so polarizing that even the top Republican in the country, House Speaker Paul Ryan, is hesitant to endorse him. On the Democratic side a majority of American voters do not trust Hillary Clinton and others still see her as a divisive, Wall Street darling with a penchant for political opportunism.
Still, the truly remarkable thing is that thousands of disenfranchised, gullible and ill-informed Republican supporters have gravitated to Mr. Trump's hateful, xenophobic and nativist massage as to leave party stalwarts still struggling to comprehend just how this happened. In a show of utter disgust with the mainstream, establishment Republican Party leaders, thousands of members long fed an historical diet mix of fear-mongering, anti-immigration, racism, exclusionism and xenophobia, crystalized in the persona of Donald J. Trump, revolted against their own party.
On the Democratic side the party's presidential standard-bearer, Hillary Clinton, still struggles mightily to shake off the cloak of distrust and opportunism. She continues to make serious, unforced errors like when she recently suggested, "sometimes men got off of the reservation." Sexism cuts both ways, Ms. Clinton. Of course, every time Trump or Clinton makes some stupid statement they immediately do what the mainstream media has coined "walk it back" and tearfully tell their believing supporters that they "misspoke."
When lying through your teeth becomes and translated as "misspeaking" and after insulting, misrepresenting and misinterpreting some statement or other morphs into a process of "walking back" then we've reached the very nadir of meaningless unadulterated spin. Today's politics is the art and science of lying and denying the lies. So that right now the American voter is tired and weary of the insults, unflattering politics jabs, lies, taunts and "taking downs" (another favorite media slang) and may be yearning for a primary season based on issues.
But I've got news for you. Don't hold your breadth on that one. We're in for a mudfest that's going to be unprecedented in US presidential elections. How can I guarantee that you say? Well just try, and I know it's hard, to THINK for a bit. On one side we have Donald Trump who's all but won the Republican Presidential nomination on a campaign of insults, personal attacks, discussion of male genitalia, lies, half-truths, innuendos and disparaging of women, immigrants and other "non-Americans." He's been able to get a salivating, genuflecting media to regurgitate over and over again his most insane and hateful rhetoric putting all kinds of spin on them and feeding it to a populace that has abnegated its responsibility to think constructively. Trump, supported by an all-adoring, mainly white and blue collar Republican vote base, has suffered absolutely no political consequences for his lies, insults and racist comments -- both alarming and dumbfounding when you consider the incredible intellectual talent that has helped propel America to unprecedented greatness.
That has worked for him and I see no reason to believe that he'll change this strategy anytime soon. Trump, no matter what he says, is definitely not the brightest bulb in the room. He has been woefully short on discussing or articulating issues. Instead, he's hid behind vapid sloganeering (Make America Great Again), appealed to race/immigrant hate (building the Mexican wall; Mexicans are rapists) and negative nativism (ban Muslims from coming to America). Moreover, Trump will be at a real disadvantage when it comes to putting his record against Hillary Clinton's who has been a New York senator, former First Lady, and Secretary of State. So wallowing in the mud and appealing to the most banal and basic of American instincts and emotions is the only way the gets traction and media attention.
Therefore, the potential for the presumed matchup between Trump and Clinton to degenerate into a personality subjectivist contest based on a strong dislike for each other is definitely on the cards. And the first salvo may already have been fired. Recently, Trump accused Clinton of aiding and abetting her husband, Bill's, historical and infamous infidelities by seeking to tarnish his accusers. He called her (Hillary) a "nasty, mean enabler." Ms. Clinton's camp promptly fired back labeling Trump as "Dangerous Donald" a veiled attempt to portray the Republican frontrunner as out of control and who cannot be trusted with the country's nuclear arsenal.
But lets get back to the American voter, specifically, and Americans in general. For decades now we've seen a sustained slide of the American voter when it comes to not participating in politics at all levels -- local, state and federal. This decline is due to a chronic national apathy fed by the hypocrisy of the mainstream media and the corruption of American politics by such Supreme Court rulings as Citizens United where corporations are now afforded the same rights as any living, breathing American. To say the least, it is appalling to see how far Americans have degenerated politically coming from historical fights against injustice, corruption and the a rejection of the rule of the elite.
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