25 July 2010

Rage and denial crackling while Nero fiddles

After his historic election, Pres. Barack Obama basked in a glut of favorable world opinion, but buried in the ballyhoo was some cautionary advice from an Irish newspaper, which claimed that the president’s legacy would be ultimately measured by how successfully he managed the decline of the American empire. It is probably too early to assess the president on that count, but Obama may be doing a better job than the American public.

A large share of the U.S. public—and virtually everyone in the network news media—has trouble accepting that America’s reign as the global economic superpower is over. Many of those who see the handwriting on the wall are responding in the rage, demanding reinstatement of the privileges they perceive as their birthright (e.g., a good job, affordable education and healthcare, and the ability to retire with dignity), and searching for the scapegoats to blame for their losses. They have been flooding the Tea Party and the anti-immigrant rallies and listening to Glen Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin who drape their hate and invective in cloaks of patriotic righteousness. This level of demagoguery recalls a similar period of fear-driven, simplistic public discourse during the Great Depression when the threat of overt, publicly supported fascism was also real.

Liberals and moderates should take no comfort (nor should anyone else who believes The Comedy Show is a legitimate source of news.) Their elected representatives ape an oppositional rhetoric then grant another round of benefits for the richest Americans and fund the next appropriation bill for endless war. The two major political parties are utterly bereft of vision and anyone who votes for a federal candidate from either is contributing nothing to solving the long list of systemic problems crippling our nation.

That determined denial was on display on a recent Sunday morning new shows when a panel of liberal and conservative politicians and pundits discussed the rapidly deteriorating war in Afghanistan and the struggling economy before jumping into a topic that almost had them salivating: Who is the more likely GOP presidential candidate in 2012, Jeb Bush or Sarah Palin? You could almost hear Nero fiddling over the crackling flames consuming his empire

1 comment:

  1. Seamus, I thank you for your insights and delighted that you also see the inevitable end of U.S. empire as a good thing.
    We are called to resist the right and the ignorant on so many fronts, it seems overwhelming, but resist we must.
    I just returned from the National Committee meeting of the War Resisters League in NYC and wonder if you would be interested in submitting an article for WIN Magazine.
    Here is the link to our current issue: http://www.warresisters.org/win/
    Sorry, no pay involved, but you would reach a targeted audience of conscious people.
    Bless you.
    Gloria Williams