The “Silly-ness” of Our Politics Explained
April 19, 2015
Below there is a link to an article in today’s NY Times entitled: “At Republican Gathering, All Talk Is of Hillary Clinton (None of It Is Good)”. In this piece, with some subdued irony or sarcasm, attacks on Hillary by various Republican nominees and potential nominees for president are summarized. As the Times’ article makes clear, none of these attacks are very interesting but the overall effect is worth thinking about.
It may be asked, Why is all of this fire directed at Hillary? That is, other than the obvious reason, viz., that she is likely to be the Democratic nominee for president, what political purpose is served by such a display which holds the danger, as the Times points out, of “getting too personal [and] carr[ying] the political risk of appearing minor league?” Let me suggest the following.
By directing their fire at Hillary, and treating her as if she is “the Threat,” these Republicans are engaging in diversionary warfare, as it were. They know that, at bottom, Hillary is not “the Threat” but they are willing to treat her as such because in that way they divert attention from the important issues people are actually concerned about, an increasingly unequal distribution of wealth, a political process increasingly controlled by the wealthy, an increasingly dysfunctional political system that rapes its citizens, especially its older citizens, or what appears to be law enforcement organizations who are increasingly out of control with regard to the use of deadly force.
This diversion works in at least two ways. First, it is meant to take the steam out of what is a “left-leaning insurgency” by directing the left’s energies toward defending Hillary. Those engaged in the diversion could care less that their presentation of Hillary is an illusion of the real person; in fact, better that it be than not as that only ramps up the irritation of those on the left who support Hillary, just as has happened with the attacks on Obama as conducted by Giuliani, Trump, and others.
Second, though, even while arousing the base on the right, this diversionary warfare also distracts the right from important issues, such as the burden that is being created by the establishment’s commitment to a foreign policy that is immensely expensive even while accomplishing very little, other than of course making our security less certain. Although our establishment politicians know it, many others fail to realize that there is a potential insurgency among the people from the right and this needs to be disarmed.
All of this is merely a result of the fact, too often overlooked by citizens but never overlooked by the ruling political class – which includes both what is labeled “the right” and “the left” – that elections, and especially presidential elections perhaps, are dangerous political phenomena and, hence, must be controlled or managed. This is what was going on among these Republican politicians. As is so often the case in the United States, our presidential elections are turned into contests between particular candidates and not contests over divergent and competing issues. So if the Republicans can turn the election into a referendum on Hillary Clinton, they will have managed it in a way that renders it safe or, more precisely, that renders them safe.