The Wizard of Oz

 

Chaos unfolds before our eyes in the Democratic Primary Election
campaigns, where adult politicians gather to eat their young. Republicans look
on as the man no one wanted grabs their party by the crotch and fires up his
base. The age of make-believe is upon us. Fear is in the air as we whistle past
the graveyard.
The Wizard of Oz is in charge.
Meanwhile, the dream of America lies bleeding in the street
and no one answers the phone at 911.
In an earlier iteration of America,
we used to actually believe in dreams:
(Wikipedia) The American Dream
is a national ethos of the United States, the set of ideals (democracy, rights,
liberty, opportunity and equality) in which freedom includes the opportunity
for prosperity and success, as well as an upward social mobility for the family
and children, achieved through hard work in a society with few barriers.
 
Martin Luther King, Jr. had a
dream.

But now we’re too fearful to have dreams. Somebody killed
off truth when we weren’t looking and dreams require a certain amount of truth
to stay alive.

We don’t know who’s to blame for
that, any more than we know the thief who broke a window in the basement and
stole in during the night to steal our trust. There are rumors: some say
Facebook, some blame the print and mass media, some even lay it at our current
president’s door.
But that’s foolishness. Twitter doesn’t
even have a door.
I make the case that we Americans have always been a bit at
each other’s throats. But it was a genteel sort of competitive exercise that
called periodic time-outs for gentlemanly (and certainly womanly) conduct.
Now the gloves are truly off and
what passes for argument is a slug-fest. Right, left and center hammer at each
other until they fall to the floor in bloodied exhaustion—gasping for breath,
struggling to their feet to have at it again. To paraphrase Yogi Berra, “doesn’t
anyone know how to play this political game anymore
?”
I know for a fact when the inevitable decline began. The
moment Jack Kennedy appeared without a hat, the entire ship-of-state lost its
rigging.
You may laugh at that, but the last
brick in civilization crumbled when men stopped wearing hats, neckties and
opening doors for women. And it’s been a long, slow march toward savagery ever
since.

Walter Cronkite was America’s trusted
news source and now his confident voice is gone. Walter was relevant because,
like Robert Young in Father Knows Best, he never lied to us. He smoked a
pipe. Men who smoke pipes don’t lie, they become trusted news anchors, sit-com
fathers or psychiatrists.

Now everyone lies or, in the misplaced search for balance
and political correctness, allow lies to slide by like an inside pitch and that’s
much the same as lying. A presidential spokeswoman (person, whatever) calls
that an ‘alternative truth.’ How’s that strike you?
Our current resident of the White House is well past 16,000 authenticated
lies, yet only two-thirds through his first term. That’s roughly 14 a day. Every
single day
. A number of stains soak into the social fabric when that
happens.
For one thing, lies allowed
become lies accepted—alternative truths, if you want to fall for that double-speak,
but it’s unprecedented from an American president. For another, America has
always spoken for the world on a number of important political and social
issues and now that speech rings hollow.
For yet another, the administration’s
consistent inside pitches on what Stephen Colbert calls ‘truthiness’ have
not been lost on the world beyond Washington. Coherence in policy, a
cornerstone of global stability—the good, the bad and the ignorant remaining consistently
good, bad and ignorant—is gone, replaced by a daily barrage of tweets from an
unstable source.
Until now, could anyone have possibly foretold a foreign
policy delivered on Twitter? Cabinet members hired and fired on social
media
? Have we sunk so deeply into confusion that a president who defies
the constitutional guarantees of government is absolved from abusing those
guarantees?
Apparently we have.
And now, with an election on the
horizon, we can either become Weimar Germany in 1933 or America in 2020.
It’s that stark a choice.Pull back
the curtain and expose the Wizard or choose to gamble on living in Oz. 

 

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