On the Political Spectacles of January 12, 2016
This year’s State of the Union address and the Republican response were eloquently delivered by attractive members of different minorities in deceptively conciliatory tones. Both accepted some of the blame for political gridlock, a positive sign, but, as is usual with political speeches, they were full of distortions, blatant deception and appeals to emotion rather than logic. The Republicans more than ignored the successes of the Obama administration while the President sugar coated his failures, most blatantly, the fact that for most Americans, the economic recovery is an illusion with its benefits filtered to the wealthiest while employment has been transitioned towards less profitable, benefit free jobs, albeit more and more of them.
Both speeches continue the assertion that inhabitants of the United States (and in the case of the Republican response, Israel) are inherently superior to those of any other country and thus entitled to special governing and economic privileges, and they continued to demonize Russia, China and Iran for daring to place their national interests before our own. President Obama brought up important points with respect to the more and more dysfunctional electoral process where money and corporations have replaced people as the main constituency and he addressed the unjustifiably increasing gap in income between the very wealthiest and everyone else, something the Republican response ignored except for claims that any problems were the results of government intervention in the economy and in the provision of citizen services.
Both speeches criticized Donald Trump’s circuses, more a reflection of his effectiveness in gauging the moral decline of the American people than anything else. He will probably successfully use the implied criticism to further energize his base. While emphasizing the importance of tolerance for different religions and races, both speeches vehemently attacked and pledged to murder all so called terrorists but neither addressed the underlying causes of terrorism and how to alleviate them. They just promised that the United States would become a more and more effective killing machine and the Republicans that if they won the upcoming presidential elections, Israel would again control United States foreign policy.
Sadly, although my reaction to the parts of both speeches that dealt with perceived threats seems hyperbolic, I fear it’s accurate. Evil is seductive in its simplicity and in its ability to rationalize. From my perspective, both speeches were at least tinged with evil. In too many respects, the parts that promised death and destruction to all who oppose us resemble too closely the aspirations and philosophy of Adolf Hitler, a person we should perhaps study more carefully. Notwithstanding impressive economic and social success at the beginning of his administration, in the end, history properly condemned him for the horror, racism and xenophobia that led him to conclude that death was the final solution for the millions of people he considered terrorists and traitors and for the terrible destruction he wrought on the world stage in his quest for lebensraum. Sadly, today, that is something that any visit to Palestine or Syria or Libya or Afghanistan or Iraq would illustrate as well. Something we caused at the behest of an ally and which it seems our leaders and too many of us have come to consider appropriate. And as to the millions of refugees our actions have created, well, the Republican response was clear, let’s let than be someone else’s problem, we did our part by creating it.
What terrible irony.
So, … my reaction to both speeches is that they were much too full of self-deception, self-delusion, undeserved praise and an unwillingness to accept responsibility in a meaningful way.
The people of the United States as well as the people of the world at large deserve much better.
© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2016; all rights reserved