Imagine if the passengers of the Titanic, informed of their grave peril, began arguing over how the deck chairs should be arranged so as to provide the most comfortable sinking experience. That is an appropriate metaphor for what passes for political discourse in the blogosphere these days. Here are some examples:
1. The health care fiasco. The insurance and drug industries have such a powerful hold on the US Congress that nothing resembling what the public wishes (a national single-payer plan) has a hope of emerging from the process. So what is all the excitement about? It’s about whether Obama can pass ANYTHING resembling an improved health care plan.
2. The forever war. Obama’s election caused the US antiwar movement to implode. Hey man, Obama is pulling us out of Iraq! We are still in Iraq, and we have expanded the war in Afghanistan to more than offset any reduction of expenditure of blood and treasure from Iraq. So what is the debate about? How soon we can pull completely out of Iraq to increase the commitment to the quagmire in Afghanistan.
3. The crumbling economy. Nobody believes Wall Street or the Government any more, because their lies are plain to see. Our economy is deflating like a punctured balloon as the debt-fueled building of unsustainable living patterns hits the wall of fiscal and ecological reality. So what are we arguing about? How quickly we can resume building McMansions and selling more SUVs.
4. The torture follies. Everybody now knows that half of Americans support torturing human beings in order to protect “national security.” This is the final verdict on American society in the 21st century: we are a cruel and wicked people who deserve to be punished. So what are we arguing about? Which Republican politician (Cheney?) can be made to absorb all the blame for a torture policy that half of America supports.
What passes for politics in America is now fully decoupled from the discussion of the problems that face us, as we drift in a fantasy land of bogus “issues” to avoid dealing with the truths that we just can’t handle. But as we adjust our political deck chairs, the ship continues to sink.