Our Dumb Democracy: Why the United States of Stupid Still Reins Supreme

Astoundingly, Mr. Obama — the supreme pragmatist and compromiser — gave an inaugural address that was as strong a defense of progressivism as we have seen in thirty years. Yet it will take more than words to make a difference. As the echoes of his speech fade, we are still faced with ultra-rightwing terrorists threatening to hold the US economy hostage to a set of demands that the majority of Americans disagree with.

These are the same loonies who deny global warming; the same ones who set up a museum showing prehistoric humans walking with dinosaurs; the same ones who think the answer to gun violence is more guns; the same ones who voted against relief for victims of Sandy … the same ones who want to shove ultrasound instruments into women’s vaginas and tell people who they can and cannot marry while simultaneously shouting to the rooftops about freedom and values. 

Yeah. Their freedoms, their beliefs and their values, please. All others step to the back of the bus, or consult Leviticus. You know, that font of ancient wisdom that tells us when and how to stone our neighbor’s daughter.

Want to know how our political discourse got so mind-numbingly stupid? 

Well, we can start with this little fact: The press is so enamored with “balance” that they’ll treat even the most ignorant, shallow, fatuous movement — a movement composed of the selfish, the self-obsessed, the angry, the bigoted, and the blissfully ignorant — as if it were a serious movement. 

Consider the following signs seen at Tea Party protests.

There’s the now infamous: “Keep your government hands off my Medicare.”

Or this gem: “Don’t steal from Medicare to Support Socialized Medicine.”

Or this: “Get a Brain. Morans [sic].”

Or this: “Obama Half Breed Muslin” — or maybe cotton or linen?

Or this: “We came unarmed. This time.”

Or this: “Stop Illeagles.” Yup, gotta hate it when eagles get ill.

There’s absolutely no shortage of these tributes to stupidity — the list could go on and on. 

At one time this kind of foolishness would have been laughed off the national stage. 

Now it dominates one of our major political parties, thanks to the media’s embrace of balance and false equivalence and the Democrats’ silent complicity.

It might be time for a whole new set of “imponderables”.

Imponderables are questions or statements that by their nature expose something that doesn’t make sense. At their best, they’re mildly amusing and instructive. For example, why does Hawaii have an Interstate Highway system? or Why isn’t “phonetic” spelled the way it sounds? or Why do psychics have to ask you for your name?

Yes, today’s political discourse is so thoroughly littered with “conventional wisdom” without an iota of wisdom, that there should be a new category — political imponderables. Here are a few examples:

National “Defense:” If the US was spending more than the next 16 countries combined on defense prior to 911, why did we need to create the Department of Homeland Security to defend ourselves?

Shouldn’t the Defense Department be called the Department of Offense?

Why isn’t every citizen asking why we have tens of thousands of troops scattered around the world to fight the cold war, nearly 25 years after it ended.

If Citizen’s United is about Free Speech, why does it cost so much? Republicans and plutocrats are set to spend far more than $1 billion on the presidential race.

Why did Obama call the Patriot Act shoddy and dangerous then essentially continue Bush’s assault on the Bill of Rights?

Climate Change: Why did candidate Obama call climate change an epochal man-made threat to the planet, while President Obama virtually ignored it his entire first term.  

Why do states which are experiencing the worst climate-related disasters elect Republican governors and congressional representatives who deny its existence?

Deficit Duplicity: Why are Republicans once again threatening to shut down government over extending the debt ceiling, after voting for the Ryan’s first budget, which required multiple and astronomical increases in the debt ceiling until the year 2062?

If Republicans really hate deficits, why did the last three Republican Presidents run up more than 66% of the nation’s cumulative deficit — more than all other Presidents combined? And why didn’t rank and file Republicans utter a peep against it when they did?

Deregulation, Trickle Down Redux, or Fool me once, shame on you … If thirty years of policies featuring deregulation, tax cuts for the rich and starve the beast policies resulted in the economic crash in 2008 — the worst since the Great Depression, which was also preceded by laissez-faire policies — how can more of the same be the solution?

Small Government that Isn’t: If Republicans like small government, why does it always grow  when they’re in office?

Why does the press mindlessly repeat conservative fear mongers’ debt warnings even as the deficit is disappearing?

There’s no shortage of political imponderables. Given the absurdity of our political process and the media’s malfeasance, our national well of stupidity is deep and wide.

The answer to all these questions is simple — these absurdities exist, because our media has replaced truth, accuracy and reality with balance, false equivalency, and stenography and Democrats have been silent co-conspirators.

Why? Because the press is a wholly owned subsidiary of corporations, and too many Democrats feed at the corporate trough.

And that’s not funny, but it is stupid.