Modern Political Comedy
Gary William Hallford
Within the day-to-day struggle to survive a convoluted economy there are occasional things we all witness that bring smiles, chuckles, or even uproarious laughter. Sometimes it is easier to find humor in the double entendre than in a particular statement or witnessed scene. Other times the absurdity of a situation brings a certain level of levity which might not be otherwise noticed. Perhaps this is a defense mechanism to prevent overt depression. Regardless of the rationale for these smiles we must embrace them as a positive contrasting the overwhelming negativity we all trudge through.
Like many Americans, I find the current political situation overly similar to a carnival freak show. Nobody seems to be in charge and almost everyone involved is a huckster selling fraud and duplicity to a public who seldom has the education to recognize that the rhetoric spewed does not equate to the observed truth. Both political parties are guilty of this with a varying severity. Who’s right and wrong depends almost entirely on your own perspective.
One example of this comedic lunacy occurred as Congress adjourned for the holiday weekend with the President visiting Japan. “Unanimous Consent” is a parliamentary procedure where if no objection is uttered everything pending is deemed accepted and these matters are forwarded to the President for signature. This is a handy tool when there is such deep ideological difference between the parties involved that agreement is not philosophically prudent. Friday, this came up after the Senate approved a disaster aid bill worth $19.1 billion. The House Democrats hoped to fast-track and pass the bill once Congress was back in session. However, Representative Chip Roy, a junior congressman from Texas objected to passage of a pending bill, so rather than the issue moving forward, everything got tabled until the House of Representatives is reconvened. His stated objection was that the bill was that is should not be passed with no one in Congress to vote on it and that it did not include money for the Department of Homeland Security to address immigration issues on the Mexican border. Whether he did so to get his own name in the national news or if this tactic was orchestrated by the Trump White House is unclear, but the result is that relief is stalled for millions of people impacted by a wide variety of natural disasters, some of which date back to the hurricane that hit Puerto Rico in 2017. This obscene style of self-centered absurdity only makes observers shake their heads and with a crooked smile grimace in moral pain and disgrace.
Another comedy routine in Washington, D.C. involves the litany of Twitter tweets made by the President over every conceivable circumstance. Some are childishly written like some form of graffiti degrading both opponents and staff members, while others are rambling rants which show an abysmal disregard for known truths in favor of ludicrously uninformed claims that are patently false. The Library of Congress will one day possess copies of all these tweeted messages so it is unnecessary and physically impossible to catalog them at this point, as more divisive and inane ones will follow minutes later. A recent one involved his apparent belief that the United States should be energy independent because we have massive stockpiles of oil, coal, and nuclear materials, so wind, solar and other alternative energy sources are unneeded. No legitimate person could believe this to be true unless they were simply working to benefit a polluting industry that continually reducing the planet’s ability to host human life. Having read a large number of these noted tweets an odd smile flutters onto my face reminiscent of one on the face of the victim of an unexpected lynching.
On a somewhat lighter note, with 20+ Democratic candidates for 2020 Presidential Election it is often difficult to realize these individuals are all vying for the nomination of the same party. The profound disparity between what they choose as core issues and whether-or-not they allow corporate donors serves as a display of why the United States needs to graduate from the old-school “two party” system and adopt a more parliamentary system. The Democratic party has at least four separate sub-parties, ranging from the Center-Right to an almost Socialist wing, and variations in between. The Republican party has multiple sub-sectors ranging from Conservative to Fascist, with religious and issue-centric subgroups based on more particular issues like abortion and gun control.
What is most confusing is when we start seeing hashtags that defy reasonable explanation: #BlueNoMatterWho, is a Democratic ploy which does not necessarily equate with reality. In my estimation that shows a political surrender to the overarching party and recognition that anyone is better than the current President, and our individual votes do not matter to the party leadership. On the Republican side, #MAGA means “Make America Great Again”, the same slogan used by the Trump campaign in 2016, but also adopted by some neo-Nazi activists. What makes you shake your head is disbelief is when you recognize all these MAGA items were not made in the United States, but were made in China, the same nation the President has started a trade war with which has cost billions in revenue.
If we could divorce ourselves from the two-party system and allowed multiple parties to work on the issues they most solidly identify with, what would be the result? At the very minimum it would allow voters to support candidates who focused on the issues most important to the voter. Also, of great importance having numerous parties would eliminate one party rule in any portion of Congress. It would require coalitions to be formed in order for anything to be done without said majority. The Socialists, Greens, Progressives and Democrats may come together for some piece of legislation, while the Conservatives, Fascists, and Nationalists would argue against it, or vice versa. Legislation would require debate and compromise rather than being pounded through by the party in majority. Legislation would have to be well written and considered before being presented to either the party drafting it or the potential allies to get the bill passed and enacted.
When we look at a potential government requiring a multi-party consensus it seems almost a joke from the American political experience but is common in Parliamentary systems around the world. As I look at the potential of recreating the American system I can’t help but smile and smile, and smile. Let me know what you think…