Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Reflections on Chris Hedges' column, "The Reign of the Idiots" from truthdig.com

Chris Hedges, in his column in truthdig.com, calls trump the “king of the idiots”….lumping the “leadership” in all circles including academic, journalistic, political, corporate and of course entertainment as blindly and hubristically head-in-the-sand self-indulgently fomenting and then championing a death spiral of American civilization.

 For Hedges, the rest of us, pawns in their chess game, blindly oblige, follow and even bow to their wealth, status and esteem, all of it unwarranted, unearned and mis-appropriated. And as arresting as his writing, and point of view are, there is a danger that, being so far out in front, it could conceivably shift the balance from opposition to the juggernaut, to throwing up arms in hopelessness and despair, and completely surrendering. Of course, Hedges is not the only voice crying in the wilderness of the trump blitzkrieg. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren and the occasional whimper from Obama staffers, Susan Rice, and Robert Reich from the Clinton cabinet, in voices much more discreet and mellow and, it might seem, a little too embedded in the problem to help us extricate us from its tentacles.

Hedges, on the other hand, espouses a much more radical response to the current disaster. Operating in the “prophetic” voice, borrowed by many from the prophets in the Old Testament, predicting gloom and ultimate disaster, Hedges is a twentieth-century Jeremiah* in a time and place where his kind of shrill sound is considered catastrophizing and apocalyptic, when such language and dire warnings fall on deaf ears.

This past Saturday night in Harrisburg PA, trump held another ‘campaign’ rally, nothing more than another de Mille ego-tripping extravaganza, and yesterday he announced that he would spend some $1.2 million on an advertising campaign to trumpet his accomplishments. (Remember, he has already filed his nomination papers for the 2020 presidential election, so he has personally declared that the country is now in a permanent “campaign” mode.) At Saturday’s event, thousands of cheering enthusiasts raucously re-endorsed this political pariah, joining what amounts to a rock-concert-type-fawning of the sycophants.

We expect such behaviour and attitudes from the pre-teens who flock to their concerts. For generations, teens have ‘found’ their respective entertainment idols, without doing much harm to themselves or their country. Yet this is very different!

Hedges' “king of the idiots” is dependent on his own kind for their shared idolizing of cash portending that anything and everything “can” be bought and will be bought, including the fawning deaf and blind ‘idiots’ who voted for him….not literally of course, but certainly blind and deaf to the dangers we all face, and the collective failure/refusal/avoidance/denial to do anything about confronting them.

Edmund Burke’s quote, ‘power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely,’ along with ‘power is the universal aphrodisiac’ and many other warning aphorisms notwithstanding, for many moderates, we never really expected to have to confront such an obvious abuse of the office of the President, when such abuse is not merely offensive but highly dangerous to every person on the planet.

Idiots, in the legal application of the word, are incapable of committing a crime, given their mental incapacity. So, from this perspective, trump does not qualify However, in the vernacular, idiots encompasses a very broad and deep range of people, for Hedges, to whom the levers of leadership have been given….whether by votes, or through some kind of competitive gamesmanship, impressive scholarship or perhaps sheer good luck and good fortune.

There is another dimension to this perspective that the idiots are in charge. And that is that other idiots are given both moral support and ‘cover’ for their acts of verbal and physical and emotional violence, including a depleted lack of civility, respect and common courtesy. The blind eye that they collectively and individually turn to science, both environmental and that evidence that supports the many social policies and funding practices that include Planned Parenthood, Green Stamps, school meals, arts and music in schools and the scientific evidence that demonstrates the significant contribution to the American economy by both documented and undocumented immigrants.

And the ‘other idiots’ have not been elected, nor appointed to positions of leadership, except in their thug world. Of course, this sounds reminiscent of a class war….and it is. Those who voted for, funded and continue to support trump, including especially the Republican members of both the House and the Senate who have had a spine removal, a tongue or larynx removal, or worse, a brain-deadening drug of unknown chemical equation. Their “investigations” into the Russian election manipulation, Flynngate including the wanton irresponsibility of the vetting conducted by the White House, their turning a blind eye to the question of the relevance and application of the “emoluments” clause that forbids a president to profit from the office…all of these are limp, like barely perceptible water colours on a water-scarred canvas. The canvas has already been so tarnished that any colours added by intent and design comprise merely the “empty spaces”.

And it is the empty spaces in both the degree of pursuit and the intensity of accepting accountability that are continuing to plague the essential process of bringing to bear all the force of custom, tradition and the constitution itself that is so blatantly missing.
Will those town-halls give way to the removal of all Washington insiders who support trump come 2018 and the next congressional election?

And yet, perhaps this hope is far too lame.

As hard as it is for some of us join Hedges “at the weeping wall” of Jeremiah, it is nevertheless incumbent on all of us to consider what price we are will to pay to bring the trump era to an early close. Clearly the price of not bringing the trump presidency to an early close will be very high:

·      Drilling in national parks and oceans heretofore off limits, dangerously rising  levels of carbon emissions,

·      another spike in the wealth of the 1% at the expense of the “pawns”,

·      the brinkmanship of international conflict as a daily, weekly and interminable reality,
·      an emasculated media,

·      the courts tied up in knots fighting absurd and punitive executive orders, effectively achieving the full obstruction of the “administrative state” (Bannon wants to destroy it, remember?),

·      the privatizing of the public school system through publicly funded vouchers,

·      the over-turning of Roe v. Wade

·      the filling of at least two more Supreme Court vacancies with Gorsuch/Scalia clones
And that’s only a northern observer’s minimal take on the damages, without even considering the trade wars and the lost jobs, the broken alliances, and the re-setting of the international table with personally designed deals that profit the “deal-maker dictator”….


Are these potential losses, and their concomitant dangers worth taking to the streets to protest?

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