The Artful Dread of the Political Reality Show

I reached political saturation these last few days. I guess many people did, especially the democrats. It started Wednesday night with the Democratic Presidential Debate, followed by comments made by the various pundits, the late night comics (live shows I recorded and watched the next day), during our conversations over lunch with friends and newspaper articles up the wazoo — read on my iPhone, of course.

My wife, who follows the news more diligently than I do, was smarter than me. While watching the actual debate, she fell asleep. “Monotonous,” she declared the next morning by way of an excuse. Yesterday her opinion was echoed by Kathleen Parker in The Washington Post.

I didn’t think the debate was monotonous. I liked everyone on that stage. I thought ten was much better than twenty, and, with the exception of Castro, when he needlessly attacked Biden on account of his age, I thought it was dignified. And yes, dignity is what I seek in a president, in addition to brilliance, eloquence and the generosity of putting others first.

I care about the topics that were discussed and liked the positions the candidates took. What they differed on seemed inconsequential to me.

Take health care, for one. The important point that all of them made was that everyone in this country should be covered, no one should be left behind. Health care for all is the mark of a caring, civilized society. More: it is a human right! The details, significant and complicated as they are, will be solved as we move on. The best of plans can be stopped in its tracks by an uncooperative congress, so I trust that any of the contenders are ready to fight for the principle and adjust once they get elected, depending on what’s coming their way. I understand that in the debate they insist on contrasting their differences because they want to stand out, but to me, the principle of universal healthcare matters most.

The same applies to two other major topics: immigration and the criminal justice system. They need to be reformed and updated, and that is not easy, of course, but simply put, what both need is a major infusion of humanity. In following the debate, I concluded that all those on the stage would allow fairness, compassion and impartiality to guide them.

Racism and discrimination were discussed. You don’t need to be a genius to recognize them, be they overt, systemic or implied, and you don’t need an advanced degree to know that racism, antisemitism and discrimination, in their many forms eat at the fabric of the society from within. The fact that the current administration is racist is painful and profoundly chilling. All the democratic contenders seem to understand that this is not who we are.

There was general agreement on stage on the topic of climate change. In my opinion, grasping this truth is as simple as one, two, three. On a recent Trevor Noah show, Greta Thunberg, a Swedish 16-year-old girl, said that in Europe climate change is considered a fact, whereas in America it is still a ‘belief’. But even for the skeptics, cleaning up our own mess should be a goal worth pursuing. I don’t see anything wrong with recycling or developing sustainable wind and solar energy technologies. Yes, some industries will be gradually replaced by others and some people will lose their jobs. But that’s true with progress in many aspects of our lives. Once we develop self-driving cars, truck drivers will be out of a job. Self-checking machines are eliminating cashiers in supermarkets, and phone operators have been replaced, annoyingly, with automatic ‘menus’. Yet the current administration argues for less efficient cars, allows mining companies to dump pollution into rivers and claims that wind farms cause cancer. Ridiculous.

On the topic of gun control, I was blown away by Beto O’Rourke. By his message and the passion of his delivery. I have waited for a long time to hear a politician say that assault rifles must go and I agree with him 100%. Aren’t the words ‘well-regulated militia’ part of the Second Amendment? In my mind, that’s equivalent with a ‘well-regulated’ sale and use of guns.

There were many other topics discussed during the debate, including how to defeat Donald Trump. They all made sense and for a short couple of hours, a new sun rose over the horizon. I forgot the pettiness, the selfishness and the lies of the current White House. I was happy when, after the debate, I heard Van Jones on CNN stating that he was proud to be a democrat that night. I felt the same way.

Then I slept and the next day the relentless political grind took over. Nothing changed — Bolton, emoluments, impeachment, the Russians, the Taliban. Trump’s bizarre speech in Baltimore.

Again and again and again.

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Under the pen name Tudor Alexander I have written and published five novels and one collection of short stories. Please visit www.tudoralexander.com.