FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Why Republicans Won’t Play Politics, and Why We Won’t Get Angry

Politics has different connotations depending on its context. It can mean a set of beliefs or practices (“What are your politics?”) which is better expressed with ideology or philosophy. It can mean manipulation or malpractice (“That’s just politics“) where supporting words like just are frequently employed since this use of politics is nebulous and more of an inflection than anything. Or it can mean negotiating a set of laws and practices. There are other specialized uses for Marxists and philosophers. Some use the political with the definite article, which points to a larger system than just parliamentary practices and involves all of the above uses.

None of these strikes me as particularly apt descriptions of what happens in the GOP debates. For instance, Lindsey Graham repeatedly cast abortion as ‘harvesting the organs of the unborn’. It is difficult to respond to such a claim with rational debate. It is difficult to conceive of how any of those words are even meant to serve as intelligent debate since each one is as inflammatory as it is mistaken. First, Graham was using this disturbing metaphor to address late-term abortions in relation to Planned Parenthood and issue a call-to-arms to unilaterally defund the service. The irony of these calls (mirrored by every candidate present at the debates) is that Planned Parenthood does not allocate federal funds for abortions. The metaphor itself could be a special topic in a rhetoric class. Harvest implies intentionality, as though people are having babies in order to later abort them for the sake of their organ tissue.

This vitriol was not due to some idiosyncrasy of the candidates. They all responded to a question from the moderators. Candidates were made to address a clandestine film taken by an anti-abortion group, in which the graphic details of this medical procedure is discussed. It is beside the point that doctors are not harvesting organ tissue like vultures, and that clinics rather donate tissue with the informed consent of patients.

What is most troubling is that throughout the debates the level of discussion remains at the level of visceral responses to immediately physical examples. The nature of politics, in whatever sense it is used, is meant to be abstract. The most offensive problem with the Republican candidates is not their malignant distrust of science but the notion that we are meant to respond to them and the issues they address through immediate visceral responses.

This finally, is what deeply upsets me about the presence of Donald Trump. It is clear that he is running as a sort of joke, whether it was his idea to tell it or not. His bigoted and misogynistic comments are good for ratings for both the debate and the 24-hour news networks hungry for real content. He is exiting to watch, ridiculous to behold, and most of all encourages intense emotional responses (most often for me is rage, sometimes melancholy). Most of all he makes the roster of other candidates seem reasonable by comparison. His presence is so absurd that metaphors without a basis in reality can be recast as thoughtful responses that engage with the issues. Trump is not a wildcard but comic relief meant to make this tragic line-up of characters easier to live with. Because as long as we are disgusted we might not be angry

 

More articles by:

Richard Jermain is an adjunct professor at the University of Tampa in the Communication department.  

July 18, 2018
Bruce E. Levine
Politics and Psychiatry: the Cost of the Trauma Cover-Up
Frank Stricker
The Crummy Good Economy and the New Serfdom
Linda Ford
Red Fawn Fallis and the Felony of Being Attacked by Cops
David Mattson
Entrusting Grizzlies to a Basket of Deplorables?
Stephen F. Eisenman
Want Gun Control? Arm the Left (It Worked Before)
CJ Hopkins
Trump’s Treasonous Traitor Summit or: How Liberals Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the New McCarthyism
Patrick Bond
State of the BRICS Class Struggle: Repression, Austerity and Worker Militancy
Dan Corjescu
The USA and Russia: Two Sides of the Same Criminal Corporate Coin
The Hudson Report
How Argentina Got the Biggest Loan in the History of the IMF
Kenn Orphan
You Call This Treason?
Max Parry
Ukraine’s Anti-Roma Pogroms Ignored as Russia is Blamed for Global Far Right Resurgence
Ed Meek
Acts of Resistance
July 17, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Trump & The Big Bad Bugs
Robert Hunziker
Trump Kills Science, Nature Strikes Back
John Grant
The Politics of Cruelty
Kenneth Surin
Calculated Buffoonery: Trump in the UK
Binoy Kampmark
Helsinki Theatrics: Trump Meets Putin
Patrick Bond
BRICS From Above, Seen Critically From Below
Jim Kavanagh
Fighting Fake Stories: The New Yorker, Israel and Obama
Daniel Falcone
Chomsky on the Trump NATO Ruse
W. T. Whitney
Oil Underground in Neuquén, Argentina – and a New US Military Base There
Doug Rawlings
Ken Burns’ “The Vietnam War” was Nominated for an Emmy, Does It Deserve It?
Rajan Menon
The United States of Inequality
Thomas Knapp
Have Mueller and Rosenstein Finally Gone Too Far?
Cesar Chelala
An Insatiable Salesman
Dean Baker
Truth, Trump and the Washington Post
Mel Gurtov
Human Rights Trumped
Binoy Kampmark
Putin’s Football Gambit: How the World Cup Paid Off
July 16, 2018
Sheldon Richman
Trump Turns to Gaza as Middle East Deal of the Century Collapses
Charles Pierson
Kirstjen Nielsen Just Wants to Protect You
Brett Wilkins
The Lydda Death March and the Israeli State of Denial
Patrick Cockburn
Trump Knows That the US Can Exercise More Power in a UK Weakened by Brexit
Robert Fisk
The Fisherman of Sarajevo Told Tales Past Wars and Wars to Come
Gary Leupp
When Did Russia Become an Adversary?
Uri Avnery
“Not Enough!”
Dave Lindorff
Undermining Trump-Putin Summit Means Promoting War
Manuel E. Yepe
World Trade War Has Begun
Binoy Kampmark
Trump Stomps Britain
Wim Laven
The Best Deals are the Deals that Develop Peace
Kary Love
Can We Learn from Heinrich Himmler’s Daughter? Should We?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Franklin Lamb, Requiescat in Pace
Weekend Edition
July 13, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Brian Cloughley
Lessons That Should Have Been Learned From NATO’s Destruction of Libya
Paul Street
Time to Stop Playing “Simon Says” with James Madison and Alexander Hamilton
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: In the Land of Formula and Honey
Aidan O'Brien
Ireland’s Intellectuals Bow to the Queen of Chaos 
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail