“This town needs an enema”- The Joker.This quote, from the now classic 1989 film Batman is a fair characterization of modern politics. There is an ever widening chasm that is splitting our great country. The divide has always been there, a product of our failing two party system.
Today, intersectionality and the stratification of society have reincarnated class warfare and much like a cracked windshield, it has shattered our society into an ever expanding spiderweb of labels with which we classify people. Each new label represents an interest group whose voice struggles to be heard, and is desperate to get recognized on the public square.
This, of course, is only one contributing factor to our social constipation. Consider it a precursor symptom, not unlike the sudden abdominal cramps that precede a frenzied run to the toilet after an evening of bad Mexican food. It’s this vying for attention that has me just sickened by the state of current affairs.Rhetoric is a word that tends to carry certain negative connotations. This is an unfortunate bi-product of a public that largely doesn’t understand the term.
the art of effective or persuasive speaking or writing, especially the use of figures of speech and other compositional techniques.
Rhetoric is at it’s most basic level, nothing more than a literary device.
However, not all rhetoric is equal. Two speeches, both delivered in 1963, Martin Luther King’s I had a dream
and President John F Kennedy’s inaugural address
both classic examples of highly effective rhetorical devices. In both, the speeches were intended to evoke emotion and ideals that are characteristic of our country as a whole. Both King and Kennedy sought to inspire. They sought to unite us during a time of terrible division. Juxtapose this against the level of rhetoric we are assaulted with daily by anyone deemed important enough to warrant a microphone and a camera.
Today, the Town square has been overtaken by diverse and often overlapping mobs of emerging social classes all of which are clamoring for their microphoned minutes. This highly competitive contest to attract attention coupled with the lightning fast news cycle borne from the development of the information superhighway has necessitated the de-evolution of the rhetorical device. The modern rhetorical goal is incite rather than inspire. Bad rhetoric has cast it’s pall on American politics.With every passing day, the gamesmanship and pathological need to dig in, obstruct, and push back in an effort to be right replaces our elected Representatives motivations and efforts to actually do right.
The hubris, self proclaimed piety, and outright hypocrisy is shedding our social fabric, and making a mockery of the core values and ideals that make us uniquely American. Never before have the symbols of patriotism and our nation’s history been associated with hate.
President Trump has been sharply criticized for his poor rhetorical speech since before he was inaugurated in 2017. His tweets and public addresses are often times highly controversial. He is regularly accused of racism, sexism, being anti- free speech, and a host of other equally undignified or unsavory attitudes based upon his rhetoric. Much of what he says is criticized through the myopic lens of bias, but to say he represents the Office of the Presidency with the dignity it is due would for the most part be bullshit. For example, there is nothing remotely Presidential in this tweet
Rep. Tlaib wrote a letter to Israeli officials desperately wanting to visit her grandmother. Permission was quickly granted, whereupon Tlaib obnoxiously turned the approval down, a complete setup. The only real winner here is Tlaib’s grandmother. She doesn’t have to see her now!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 16, 2019
All too often, his rhetoric is intended to incite his base, and work them up into a frenzy of zealotry rather than inspire our country. This isn’t to say that our President holds the Monopoly on verbal diarrhea, by any means. Extremism has provided jet fuel to the proverbial fire, and with each new Media darling activist, the competition for airtime further motivates them to prove they are more progressive and more woke than the next.This is exemplified by the cringe fest we we’re subjected to during the first Democratic debate, which highlighted this pathological compulsion to attain the prized Level 10 Progressive Douchebag achievement from Google. We have been subjected to an increasing assault by politicians reduced to using profanity and vulgarity to “relate” or “connect” to their audience. Ad Hominem attacks and language that even 20 years ago was considered scandalous on TV shows like NYPD blue are now tools of the trade for our elected Representatives.
For a sitting member of Congress to use the phrase “impeach the motherf*cker” from behind the microphone is as shocking as it is completely inappropriate. This arguably the lowest form of rhetoric, and shows the complete disregard and disrespect for us, the audience. Discussion on policy has been bastardized and replaced by vitriol and wanton bombastic venom. Our government should, and does, lead by example. The problem is that right now, the examples are leading us to ruin.
What does it say about us as a people when we allow tribalism to lower the bar of humanity to the point we celebrate the suffering and death of others? “Conservatives” raised a glass in celebration at the death of John McCain. Just this week, we have seen cheers at the death of controversial philanthropist David Koch and others giddily anticipating the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg when it was announced she’s being treated for what is possibly the most vicious and painful form of cancer one can suffer from. When you trade in your morality and humanity for an ideology, you’re selling your soul to a fickle devil.
If we are to heal the country, we need true leaders that inspire, not incite. Our children are watching.