The supremacy of today’s political cynicism

Politics are now a fantasy, but an unpleasant reality.

Politics are now a fantasy, but an unpleasant reality.

By Thom deMartino/Western Sun staff writer

Humanity, as a whole, often dwells in the past — while in reality racing at breakneck speeds towards a looming and uncertain future. We like to call them “the good old days,” telling ourselves that the economy was booming, jobs were plentiful, music wasn’t nearly as bad, and all was right with the world. Even the politicians were trustworthy “back in the day” — don’t you remember?

But these notions are just wearing the rose-colored glasses that seductively deceive us. It’s easier to glance back, rather than forward, and gloss over the injustices and mistakes of the past through the flickering monochrome of memory. We rationalize, we trivialize, we justify.

A little story for you: once upon a time, there were two parties: Republicans and Democrats. One stood for business and industry, profit and loss, the rights of the individual to be free of government tyranny, while demanding its accountability: the other stood for the downtrodden, the disenfranchised, the forgotten and passed over, insisting that same government was both of and for the people, that every individual mattered, regardless of color, creed, or station. The struggles between these two sets of ideals helped shape our collective culture for generations, and cemented the concept of our American Dream.

But by 2016, the lines between the two have blurred — so much so, at points, as to become an indistinguishable smear, devoid of identity or conviction: the two leading candidates in the impending election have both changed position so many myriad times as to make even the most seasoned political spectator’s head spin like an outtake from “The Exorcist.” In one corner, we have a demagogic bully of a carnival barker, mugging for the camera as he incites division and violence while claiming the high ground, playing off the deepest insecurities and vitriol of the human spirit. In the other, a more than two-decades fixture of the Washington elite, who now fashions herself the political outsider, changing her stands like a chameleon its color, as the local demographics dictate, while taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign donations from the very corporate entities she claims she’ll regulate.

Our current president was swept into office on a wave of public sentiment and a promise of “hope and change” — yet in this election year, when another dark-horse candidate espouses innovative and ground-breaking plans for the future, we’re told from both sides of the aisle that he’s “crazy” and “unrealistic.” The “audacity of hope” we were promised back in 2008 has been replaced with the subversive cynicism of the incumbent, the corrupt and the complacent.

A futuristic, yet politically prescient DC comic from the late 1990’s and early 2000’s called “Transmetropolitan” and it’s protagonist, renegade journalist Spider Jerusalem, summed it up nicely:

“There’s one hole in every revolution, large or small, and it’s one word long — people. No matter how big the idea is they all stand under, people are small and weak and cheap and frightened. It’s people that kill every revolution.”

As dark and true as that sentiment is, it doesn’t have to be. The preamble of our own United States Constitution begins with “We, the people” — that’s you and me, friend. We have the right to demand better from our leaders, to not have to settle or succumb to our baser natures, simply because we’re told to by those who’d have us believe they are our only best option.

We deserve better. Stand up.

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