This post will not go in the direction that a reader might first suppose, given the title.
One needn’t look too far to find all sorts of references by pundits regarding American politics as being a “circus”, full of fools and clowns. The “clowns” reference is, for some, an insult (ahem). But the comparison of D.C or statehouse politics to a circus, while generally accepted, is not accurate.
Circuses actually work. If they don’t, they go out of business. Politics, however, can keep on not working but it doesn’t go out of business. It’s one of the reasons that comparing government spending and deficits to businesses is so lame. Businesses can’t print money, they have to earn it. Government has the special paper and ink to print whatever it needs. Inflation could ruin the party but so far, it hasn’t, in spite of republicans’ dire warnings during the Obama administration, then their silence about deficits and inflation during the Trump administration and now their re-discovery of the sins of deficit-spending during another democratic administration. They really need to make up their supposed minds.
But this blog isn’t to be about deficits and inflation, which I know will disappoint many of my more nerdy readers. This blog is about the spurious argument that American politics is a circus.
A circus is made of many moving parts, just like government. Those parts include carpenters, roust-a-bouts (whatever they do), balancing acts, high-wire acts, trapeze acts, jugglers, bearded ladies, contortionists, a ring master or mistress, animal trainers, animals, oddities, food vendors, ticket takers, etc. Except for the animals, the circus is a very human-driven enterprise. It is a team effort to entertain.
When not in entertainment mode, the people of the circus live together in a melange of ethnicities, national origins, sizes, shapes, talents, food preferences, biases, body odors, political preferences and temperaments. Given all of that, if someone doesn’t manage to get along, do his or her part and provide for the support and safety of their fellow travelers, management shows them the tent flap. Hating on each other simply wouldn’t work. Each contributing member has a basic grasp of what the enterprise has to do and operates from a common core of knowledge about the process. The acrobat who falls from the rafters and finds, too late, that someone forgot to raise the safety net, will be piqued, if not dead. That’s why such things rarely happen.
Comparing a circus to today’s divisive politics, driven by divisive voters and the misinformation-entertainment business, to which so many are tethered, is an insult to circuses.
The Clown believes that the future of America’s democratic republic is in far more danger than many want to admit. If politics is like a circus, the big top will soon collapse because the people-driven process of politics is riven with hate, fear, paranoia and ignorance.
Seventy percent of republicans believe that, in spite of all the very reliable proof to the contrary, the 2020 presidential election was fraudulent, 70%! That’s like seven out of ten trapeze act safety spotters believing that a fall from 40 feet won’t hurt the jerk from Mexico who gets all the attention. Seven of 10 spotters hate the guy so they won’t be keen on his safety.
While Eisenhower warned of the Military/Industrial Complex (and he was prescient), the Clown is screaming about the destructive force of America’s Misinformation/Entertainment Complex. If nearly half of the circus employees believed absolute bullshit about others’ safety and their own non-responsibility to contribute to the common weal, bye-bye circus. That’s exactly what is transpiring in America today.
The cable channels, the Internet and the radio are chock-a-block full of entertainers posing as thought leaders, spreading the most preposterous misinformation to true believers who haven’t the foggiest notion of what it takes to get a real news story reported. A huge and dangerous chunk of Americans are media illiterate and proudly so. That gives the Clown the willies and contributes to his existential gloom.
In the realm of politics, the true clowns are found out on the hustings where they vote based on “information” that simply isn’t so and their representatives in government must follow them down the lunacy path or lose their precious position as a “leader”, although hardly any are leading, except from the rear.
Please, readers, don’t send me any “Whataboutism” crap about the main stream media being no better. They are way better. Biased? Sure. Abject liars? No. The main stream media doesn’t routinely traffic in “Biden to Cut Red Meat Consumption by 90%” fabrications, “Report mask-wearing children’s parents to the police for child abuse” absurdities or “The 2020 election was stolen” myth. The latter, known as THE BIG LIE, is the un-chewed chunk of red meat stuck in the nation’s gullet, choking the air out of the body politic and threatening to kill democracy.
Even circus people know the Heimlich maneuver. Do nearly half of the voters and a 70% of republicans? It sure doesn’t look like it.
Observoid of the Day: An “attention economy” and a democratic republic are incompatible.