Once again, the quadrennial apparition has reached the dreaded countdown to political ignominy, placing American democracy on trial once again… yet quickly dismissing the charges, letting the political circus continue with its three-ring democracy made up of a dangerous quasi-autocratic executive, a corrupt special-interests Congress, and an ugly, politically tainted judiciary. But in 2016, the choice of whether to re-elect Lesser-Evil for the umpteenth time might be looking at Evil as a new candidate: Lesser-Able.
This time around the duopoly which played musical chairs in the past to maintain power in a flawed undemocratic fashion does not appear to be firmly in charge, and our overly mined, make-believe democracy has found a rich vein of discontent, particularly in the white populace. Somehow, the political elites that run the two-party system appear to have lost control of the rank-and-file. And the Republican-R has metamorphosed from uncompromising conservatism into bigoted Repugnism while the Democratic-D is seen as having reached the limits of corrupt Demagoguery, unashamedly riding the shoulders of the minority-class represented in 90+ percent of Black voters and 70+ percent of the Latino voting bloc – many of them in sympathetic support to a massive 12-18 million of undocumented immigrants-at-arms.
For several decades many, at times most, Americans have gone to the polls every four years and cast their vote for a candidate they have jokingly, yet sometimes in profound seriousness, identified as Lesser-Evil. And even if the clownish-dude appeared wearing a mask, he was often mischaracterized by conservative Republicans as well as by liberal Democrats, or even Independents, as offering the lesser evil; a reasonable compromise or civic-consent for living in a nation that up to a generation ago did provide most of its people with a comparatively decent standard of living vis-à-vis much of the world.
And that post-WWII economic blessing clouded our domestic vision, deflecting pride in our democracy to pride in our empire and military might. We started to see ourselves as saviors of the planet and began to call the president, someone who should lead us as First Citizen, our commander-in-chief. Our democracy decayed and we started to go to the quadrennial dates to select a commander-in-chief, under the fallacious pretense of an ill-conceived preparedness for war; giving up on the idea of electing a First Citizen, someone who could lead the charge in tackling the myriad socio-economic problems accosting the nation; problems that loom larger today as our economic pre-eminence in the world is fading away.As America did bid farewell to its popular First Citizen – and last world-class American statesman, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, subsequent selected leaders have been branded as commander-in-chief, all serving at the pleasure of an American elite, which has sadly resulted in bringing down a prosperous, globally respected United States of America from its lofty pedestal: a nation of promise for all its people sinking to the mediocrity of another fading empire neglecting half of its citizens in a last hurrah to save itself.
Our ridiculously long presidential campaign, dubbed internationally as a celebrity horror show, has had for many TV viewers a Colosseum-worthy bloodiness of Roman circus entertainment while for others it has underlined the absurdity of an American body politic which this time has reached the bottom of the barrel, without anticipating the possible consequences, by making the choices Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
Although in this 58th presidential election we will still be referring to the two candidates as potential commander-in-chief, it will start to become evident that the economic and social ills that polarize the nation require a First Citizen, not a First Warrior, and that a commander-in-chief just won’t do! Furthermore, an end to the polarization simply will not occur as long as our political system consists of only two political parties where the membership in both maintain profiles with little or no commonality – racial, economic, or even philosophical – to try and match, or at least approach the diversity in the nation.
So once again much of the electorate in the two tents is confronted with voting for the sempiternal Lesser-Evil, except that this time around many would-be voters see Evil with a lesser-able personality. And that new personality, Lesser-Able, has become the figure of the Pied Piper of the discontent, Donald Trump, who many see as both unqualified and worrisome.
In less than five weeks we’ll find out whether Lesser-Evil is reelected or Lesser-Able is to assume the reins. In either case we’ll have to resign ourselves to having made a choice for a commander-in-chief of a declining empire, instead of a capable First Citizen ready to tackle our nation’s economic and social ills.
© 2016 Ben Tanosborn
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