Wounds to the Body Politic

Wounds to the Body Politic June 27, 2016

Antique bandage images--cropped

Your mother always warned you, “Don’t pick that scab or it’ll never heal!” This election is promising to be one giant, angry gash that will at take a very long time to heal, indeed. The stinky-girls-not-allowed Twitter battles of the #berniebros are beginning to look like kid’s stuff compared to the alt-right Trump brigades relentlessly targeting Jewish journalists with death camp imagery.

But that’s just the cesspool corners of the internet, you may say. And it’s true that Trump’s atavistic campaign is stirring up effluential streams of hate which have always been there. It was merely hiding under the bandage obscuring the festering wound beneath.

Donald Trump picked it. Admittedly, sometimes you have to remove a scab in order to clean out an infection. But it’s not a pretty sight when you do.

In the UK, the opposite seems to  have happened. Prime Minister David Cameron scratched an itchy rash and created a wound that will take a very long time to heal. And soon he may find he’s left a Brittain that’s considerably less Great, as Scotland and Northern Ireland are threatening to resign from the club so they can rejoin the European Union after the Brexit divorce.

But maybe it wasn’t the opposite, after all. Both movements have been largely fueled by anti-globalist nativism (though some of the proponents of the Leave campaign were more concerned with the ceding of national sovereignty to a distant and red-tape-bound EU bureaucracy). Yet the message is being transmitted in very different circumstances…and in the US by a fatally flawed candidate.

Still, pent up anger binds the two movements together. After all, there was a parallel groundswell, albeit failed, to join Bernie Sanders’ revolution and capture the Democratic nomination. Bernie too railed against the economic damage exacerbated by the globalization of the economy, though he pointed his finger up at Wall Street and the big banks rather than down to illegal immigrants and Muslims.

Is the fact that Trump appealed to base anger the reason he succeeded and Bernie didn’t? Yes and no. Sanders also stirred anger among the economically displaced, but he was pitching his message in a party that hadn’t been stoking the powder keg of rageful resentments for decades. And, frankly, he’s a far more decent human being. In short, Bernie is a mensch.

That’s certainly not a term I would use with the Donald. Golem seems more apt.

Humpty Dumpty--resizedSee also: Humpty Trumpty.

Another thing your mom always advised you to do was to rip off that Band-Aid to get the pain over with quickly. But with the fall election, I’m afraid it’s more likely to be one slow, painful rip of a campaign. Certainly, things will be discussed that were barely hinted at before. Did you think you would ever hear penis size being discussed in a presidential debate?

Get ready for worse.

Stalwart Republicans like George Will are jumping ship over Trump’s candidacy. And can you blame them? The Party of Lincoln has a standard bearer advocating religious tests for legal immigration. I never believed I would write a sentence like that. Our Founding Fathers would’ve weeped at the concept (as an upcoming blog series will attest).

Fortunately, the Trump campaign is woefully underfunded and understaffed. Indeed, it has yet to air a single anti-Clinton ad. Donald Trump seems to embody the Greek concept of hubris; the very thing that has made him successful will lead to his undoing. The GOP wagons are circling to protect their incumbents, yet there are whispers that even the Republican House majority might be in jeopardy, as a down ballot domino is set into motion.

As ugly as the campaign will undoubtedly be, perhaps airing the oozing wound of racial animosity will allow us to apply some antibiotic to the infection. At every hate-filled rally, Donald Trump is greeted with equally vehement protests. The latest polls show Hillary Clinton opening up a double digit lead, even before what promises to be a circus of a Republican Convention.

The Democratic Party has already been made stronger by the revolutionary fervor and economic focus of Bernie Sanders. The GOP has been weakened by the resentments they had long bred. But as I wrote, this too may be an opportunity for them, if, after the election, they finally slay the monster they built.

This election is going to be a disgusting, oozing wound. I hope you have a strong stomach. But by draining the lesion, our body politic may yet wind up stronger.

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