What’s Up with American Politics?

by Fernando Perfas

Joint session of U.S. Congress | Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian, White House photographer via Creative Commons

The late comedian Robin Williams once broke down the word politics this way, poli from Latin meaning “many” and tics meaning “blood-sucking creatures.” The truth behind the dark and biting humor is hard to ignore. U.S. politics has deteriorated, and it sucks the life out of the country. Some elected, or aspiring officials will regularly say outrageous lies to shamelessly attract attention, kowtow to some fallen idol, satisfy a fan base, and raise money. It is done with reckless abandon, unmindful of the negative consequences of their words. Nowadays, I rarely hear politicians utter inspiring rhetoric to call people to positive and constructive actions. Instead, the language and words that come out of their mouths are divisive, corrosive, and destructive. Even the media is divided, with some serving as the mouthpieces of politicians making baseless accusations or spreading lies, all in the name of free speech and free enterprise.

Many elected politicians seem to forget the sacred oath of office they swore to uphold. They don’t even seem to care about the example they set for people who put them in office. Look at some of the allegations lobbed against them, from sexual abuse and abuse of power to all forms of corruption. Integrity is a rare commodity these days, and the lack of shame is on full display.

What happened to the high-minded ideology that defined a politician’s stance on matters of state and public welfare? These are things that genuinely matter in politics. However, they are now overshadowed by personal ambition and political convenience. Even the traditional political platform of the party has been sidelined, replaced by slogans and beliefs that do not promote the public good.

We now have one political party trying to save democratic institutions, or what is left of them, and another bent on destroying them. One party is engaged in governing and passing needed legislation to strengthen the country while the other obstructs them. One party is trying to be as inclusive as possible to reflect the diverse U.S. population, and the other is working hard to exclude people they deem don’t belong to the country. It’s a highly divided country, with one party pounding on the cracks to keep the wedge that separates us growing wider and wider. We can’t even have a rational debate on important issues. If one holds a different view, he is demonized or bullied by the other. To have a real discourse, participants must keep and observe important parameters, such as adherence to facts or the truth, respect for different opinions, and respect for the individual.

“To make matters worse, some politicians have no qualms spouting lies, bending the truth, spousing baseless conspiracy theories, or advocating for violence to serve their own personal agenda and pander to a misguided or misinformed electorate. Sometimes these ploys appear deliberate, designed to sow chaos and incite fear that effectively hamper people’s ability to think deliberately and rationally. The herd they assemble ultimately becomes a mob with mental blinders who respond only to the hoots and calls of the herder.”

There is speculation that the Republican Party might win the majority seat in the House of Representatives in this year’s elections. I feel pessimistic over the prospect of a Republican Lower House and, worse, a Republican-controlled Congress. Even now, there are already threats of retribution over perceived injustice done to them by Democrats. It does not bode well for the rest of the country. We can already anticipate that if they take the House and Senate, much of the time will be spent by Congress over impeachments, investigations, inquiries against such and such, trivial matters, and hurt egos. We’ve seen this lately in state politics, where the focus has been on harping over a bogus lost election, making it harder for certain people to vote, and lately, taking away women’s reproductive rights. Often, their political agendas involve issues that are not pressing or, at times, even trivial, only to score political points or gain an unfair advantage.

Meanwhile, the things that are important to people and the planet are not even mentioned. I used not to care about what party rules either house of Congress as long as the agenda they tackle are relevant to the needs of the people and country. Today, party affiliation and personality cults have become more important than tackling the nation’s challenges. To make matters worse, some politicians have no qualms spouting lies, bending the truth, spousing baseless conspiracy theories, or advocating for violence to serve their own personal agenda and pander to a misguided or misinformed electorate. Sometimes these ploys appear deliberate, designed to sow chaos and incite fear that effectively hamper people’s ability to think deliberately and rationally. The herd they assemble ultimately becomes a mob with mental blinders who respond only to the hoots and calls of the herder.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR  Dr. Fernando B. Perfas is an addiction specialist who has written several books and articles on the subject. He currently provides training and consulting services to various government and non-government drug treatment agencies regarding drug treatment and prevention approaches. He can be reached at fbperfas@gmail.com.

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