Whenever a Republican presidential debate nears, there’s a feeling of dread the creeps over me that I now find overwhelming. For professional purposes, I am supposed to watch the meaningless spectacle in order to provide commentary on it, but truth be told, I’m not watching it live tonight because I just can’t face it.
I’ll review the highlights, look at key quotes and so on, but I’m not spending 3 hours bludgeoning my hope for humanity’s future as the Republican contenders regurgitate the same idiotic, nasty and purposefully ignorant responses to questions they aren’t going to answer seriously anyway. Sure, Donald Trump will be amusing and some of the spats between Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio could be pretty funny, but the gigantic media orgy is now so completely meaningless that it should be boycotted by anyone who cares about the future of the American political system.
The truth is, the Republican party is no longer an actual political party — it is the PR wing of America’s corporate interests, and it serves no useful function to 99% of the population. The only candidate not completely beholden to the ultra wealthy is a fascist clown who has no political experience whatsoever, so the entire debacle really is utterly pointless.
The symbiotic relationship the media has with this horrifying cancer that has managed to control both houses of congress is also becoming intolerable — the Republicans feed off of controversy, and the media gleefully reports it as their rating climb. The Republicans have riled up a significant number of people who believe Sharia Law is coming to America, that liberals are trying to kill babies, and the only way to make everything better is to close the borders and implement extreme free market reforms to literally everything. This is all demonstrably horse shit, but there’s little point in trying to convince those infected by years of day time television, action movies and Fox News propaganda otherwise. As Matt Taibbi wrote recently of this abused demographic:
If you got all of your information from TV and movies, you’d have some pretty dumb ideas. You’d be convinced blowing stuff up works, because it always does in our movies. You’d have no empathy for the poor, because there are no poor people in American movies or TV shows – they’re rarely even shown on the news, because advertisers consider them a bummer.
Politically, you’d have no ability to grasp nuance or complexity, since there is none in our mainstream political discussion. All problems, even the most complicated, are boiled down to a few minutes of TV content at most. That’s how issues like the last financial collapse completely flew by Middle America. The truth, with all the intricacies of all those arcane new mortgage-based financial instruments, was much harder to grasp than a story about lazy minorities buying houses they couldn’t afford, which is what Middle America still believes.
The Republicans feed Middle America with the garbage the are accustomed to: a steady diet of fear and hate, and the media dutifully spreads it around. Donald Trump is the greatest gift the news media has seen in years as he lays waste to Republican protocol and amps up the crazy in ways that make Michelle Bachmann seem reasonable.
The net effect of this is the legitimization of absolute lunacy. While one party attempts to discuss actual issues like climate change, education and gun control, the other concerns itself with imaginary conspiracies involving dastardly health care workers selling baby parts for cash.
Where does this all lead? Who knows, but it can’t be good. We are watching the rapid disintegration of a political party that has been overrun by clowns, eager to devour what is left of the rotting carcass. From a liberal perspective, this should be quite enjoyable — and to a degree, they deserve to sit back and watch the spectacular implosion. But the actual process playing out on television is genuinely nauseating, and only professionals and sadists should have the stomach to watch it.
And as it turns out, I am neither.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.