A Case Of Political Anhedonia

Perhaps I have a cold or incipient brain disease, but all I can think watching another Republican primary unfold is that any of these candidates will be a tragedy for the nation should they ultimately be elected; and in particular, if accompanied by majorities of Republicans in the respective houses of congress. This appears to be having a strong prophylactic effect on any blooming intensity of interest I might have in the specifics of New Hampshire for example. Having experienced a similar disturbing ennui with Iowa I continue to wish to feel breathless interest in the nuts and bolts of this Republican sweepstakes, though the feeling still eludes me, like true affection for the music of Sigur Rós or enjoyment of goat cheese.

I think it has something to do with the country being, pardon my French, fucked, if any representative of the currently constituted Republican Party should come to prevail, as well as the intellectual vacuity of its candidates’ reality-detached pantomimes passing for debate. It’s like the election for student body president at Bellevue Junior High: yes, it’s politics, but my ability to be fascinated by the particulars cannot be separated from awareness of the larger picture.

Recently coming across something John F. Kennedy said in his famous televised debate with Richard Nixon provoked a revelation of sorts, or more accurately perhaps, drove home a sobering reality.

“I think the question is – what are the programs that we advocate, what is the party record that we lead? I come out of the Democratic Party, which in this century has produced Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman, and which supported and sustained these programs which I’ve discussed tonight. Mr. Nixon comes out of the Republican Party. He was nominated by it. And it is a fact that through most of these last twenty-five years the Republican leadership has opposed federal aid for education, medical care for the aged, development of the Tennessee Valley, development of our natural resources. I think Mr. Nixon is an effective leader of his party. I hope he would grant me the same. The question before us is: which point of view and which party do we want to lead the United States?”

So watching this Republican field at the moment, what little may separate them individually seems secondary to what all of them essentially represent. Reversing the perspective somewhat, I imagine what for instance Mitt Romney would put forward speaking in a similar vein as JFK:

I come out of the Republican Party, which over a century has produced Herbert Hoover, Richard Nixon and George Bush, and whose political candidates and current membership do not believe in evolution, however do believe the crisis in climate change is a climatologic science prank. I come out of a party, under whose leadership in the previous decade the American economy lunged over a precipice and burned ,whose economic program is more of the same or worse; a party which transformed a budget surplus of over two hundred billion dollars into a budget deficit of more than a trillion and touts itself the champion of fiscal responsibility; a party which insists the health insurance system unencumbered by health reform was one providing Americans value and “freedom,” believes sickness correctly increases inaccessibility to health care, and that regardless of higher costs, inferior outcomes or prevalent absence of coverage is the greatest in the world. I come out of a party insisting tax contributions from the wealthy much too high, tax contributions from the working poor shamefully low, salaries too high for cops and teachers…benefits too luxurious, corporations and banks much too strangled and strapped; a party which believes the environment overly pampered, polluters abused. I come out of a political party that believes businesses and corporations retain transcendent rights, citizens and consumers few. And it is a fact that through most of these last twenty-five years the Republican leadership has sought the de-facto destruction through “privatization” or outright elimination of the most successful programs in all of American history: Social Security and Medicare.”

Forgive me if drama over which particular representative of this party becomes the nominee leaves me suddenly cold.

If there is one compelling prospect in this house of inane horrors it is that of Newt Gingrich unleashing the dogs from hell in the form of advertising super pacs on the hapless Romney, and in the process defaming the party’s loyal and beloved constituents: the blood and guts predators of capitalism.

Maybe I’ll feel better tomorrow.







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