Until I remember that I, too, am a human being, I have been with increasing frequency drawn to the conclusion that human beings have evolved with such an obsession with other individual humans that they simply cannot attribute proper importance to far-reaching policies.
If you want to excite a crowd, you don’t tell them that virtually every official in Washington is in complete and harmonious agreement on massive military spending, more nuclear weapons, occupying Afghanistan, bombing Iraqis, bombing Syrians, bombing the hell out of Yemenis, and drone murdering at will. That’s about as interesting as subsidizing fossil fuels and rendering the earth uninhabitable. Who cares!
If you want some sign of life out of an audience, you tell them that a particular politician is an idiot or a clown or a racist or a sadist or a misunderstood saint. Now, that has value. That has meaning.
Virtually every U.S. citizen, as far as I can tell, would choose a republic over a democracy, a dictatorship over a republic, and a dictator who gives intelligent humanitarian speeches while enacting horribly destructive policies over a dictator who sounds like a jerk or a moron while enacting less destructive policies.
Sure, we may be headed right for the iceberg, but the Captain sure is witty!
In fact, the actual captain of the Titanic is still remembered for his personality more than his captaining. Woodrow Wilson is in our history books for things he said, while what he did gets very little mention. Barack Obama will be written up as a president who spoke against nuclear madness, even though (1) he didn’t, and (2) he worked to create more nukes, including smaller, more “usable” nukes.
The corrosive impact of personality may be more lasting than many imagine. I supposed that there would be at least three upsides to a president Trump: no TPP, less hostility toward Russia, and the return to activism of those who opposed wars as long as Bush was president. Not only have the Democrats pushed Trump into hosility toward the demonized Vladimir Putin, but the return of the anti-Republican-war activists is beginning to look over-anticipated.
Where are they? Have they learned to accept all the ongoing permanent wars? Are they waiting for a new war to oppose?
I’ll tell you where they are. They’re lurking just around the corner. Announce a comedy performance mocking the stupidity of Donald Trump and his Russian lover, and they’ll come running. They’ll arrive in droves.