The various modes of worship, which prevailed in the Roman World, were all considered by the people equally true; by the philosopher as equally false; and by the magistrate, as equally useful. – Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
STATESBORO, GA – It’s not hard to imagine the ancient Romans fretting about dinner plans while their great and ancient city melted.
The mind turns easily to Rome these days when considering our bloated and corrupt empire. After all, the echoes of the end of Classical Antiquity, a disaster brought on by perversion of character, both in a personal and civic sense, are apparent every time we turn on the tube and watch witless contestants dance for their dinners while robber barons and kingmakers toss them paltry sums and seal their fate with a careless thumb’s motion. Or, as our movie screens and cellular devices are pregnant with gladiators reenacting passion plays, razing cities while battling false gods, to the tune of a billion to two billion dollars box office, all of it just a modern Colosseum show.
But when making ghastly comparisons to the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, popular culture pales in comparison to the senseless and embarrassing field of candidates in the 2016 Election.
In just the past week three of the worst Republicans have ever had to offer announced – Dr. Ben Carson, Governor Mike Huckabee, and Carly Fiorina – and between them they drug this already disgusting race even further into the muck.
It’s hard to tell who’s the most disgusting of the bunch, whether it’s Carson, a dingbat neurosurgeon who’s said that the Affordable Care Act was, for America, “the worse thing since slavery,”; Huckabee (one of the most premiere hucksters and dangerous politicians this country has ever birthed) – a snake-oil salesman who said just yesterday on Face The Nation that his recent turn promoting “dietary supplements” on infomercials proves he’d “be a pretty good president,”; or Fiorina, a failed CEO and senate candidate and opportunist who’s only in this thing to clear up the over half-a-million-dollar debt she owes for her woeful attempt to unseat Barbara Boxer in 2010.
Whoever’s the worst of those three is up for debate, but there’s no doubt who the loser is: the American People and anybody who believes these are Serious Times.
Depending on whom you trust, and which side of the spectrum you fall on, Texas is either hosting a completely-normal military training exercise this summer or being invaded by the United States of America’s shadow-army.
At this point, it’s a fifty-fifty kind of thing.
Even Texas governor Greg Abbott has mobilized the Texas National Guard to make sure the army doesn’t get a little too cavalier or, you know, place the entire region under martial law and enact some sort of dystopian kingdom.
The operation is called Jade Helm 15 and it’s an on-the-books, regularly-scheduled training mission to prepare armed forces, but somehow or another the very legitimate and commonplace exercise has been hijacked by the Paranoid Right and turned into the cause de jour of the moment.
In other words, it’s the perfect metaphor for what an insane country we’ve become.
The genesis of this State of Paranoia has its roots far earlier than the Summer of 2010, but that’s a fine place to start. This was when the Tea Party first started cutting its teeth on Obamacare and suddenly it became totally acceptable to call the president a Kenyan Manchurian Candidate hellbent on killing everyone’s grandma and forcing the rest of us into FEMA Death Camps.
Spurred on by Professional Mentally-Ill Person Glenn Beck, the already unhealthy political atmosphere was progressively poisoned by irrational takes on irrational situations, a stew of mistrust and fear that gestated into full-blown armed rebellion in places that has had such a chilling effect on national discourse in the last half a decade that there’s very little chance we’ll be able to dig ourselves out anytime soon.
Take this Jade Helm 15 situation, a fever-dream of a delusion that five minutes and a quick trip to Snopes.com would be sufficient in squashing, but instead the national media, particularly FOX News and the circle-jerk that is Right Wing Radio, two entities who make a great deal of their profits by fanning the flames of preppers and idiots alike, has globbed onto the shitshow like flies ready to dine.
Watch the latest video at video.foxnews.com
Quite simply, it’s financially beneficial for these people to continue shoveling this shit to the true-believers as it gains them more sponsors and viewers alike, primarily as the ill-informed continue to search desperately for outlets which are happy to feed them more misinformation. But even more so, it’s beneficial politically as the tide has turned on real issues and debates, as the public has grown younger and more progressive on social issues like abortion, same-sex marriage, healthcare, and even the move toward immigration reform.
The GOP Hand is a losing one in every sense of the word, and it’s only getting worse as time marches forward. As a result, it’s in their best interest to not even discuss actual issues and instead focus on the reptilian part of the brain that reacts on instinct and distrust naturally, the Us v. Them, the What Was That Sound? reflex that leaves them panicked, irrational, and ready to shoot on sight.
The strategy is just about as successful and necessary to the modern GOP as one could ever hope to devise, but it has had serious consequences when considering political discourse and, well, the pursuit of actual effective government.
After all, it’s hard to argue carbon taxes and corporate pollution ceilings when one side refuses to even agree that such measures might even be a necessity.
By the same token, how can we begin the process of considering fixing our deep-seated racial and economical issues, not to mention gender-gaps and relations that have existed for the entirety of human history, when we can’t even come to an understanding as to what reality we’re sharing?
Look at Texas, if you would.
Is there a squad of Constitution-abiding soldiers sweating and improving in the oppressive Tejas heat, or is that the spearhead of the United Nations/New World Invasion Force that’s about to kick in your door and force-sterilize and vaccinate your children?
It all depends on the angle from which you’re looking, really.
Now, this isn’t to say that Carson, Huckabee, or Fiorina, not to mention the other candidates who’ve already declared or are about to, believe the NWO is knocking on America’s backdoor. Far from it. These are educated people. People who’ve operated on cerebral cortexes, run states and companies, who’ve spent time at Yale and Duke and Texas.
Simply put: They Know Better.
For them though, the ends justify the means. It’s a grand bargain they’re making that goes a little something like this:
Though the public largely disagrees with them on substantive issues, they know they are right.
The only way to show the public they are right, however, is to fleece them using emotional and irrational means.
This, though unethical, is no more unethical than the game being played by the opposition in promoting these poorly-conceived ideas they’ve sold to the public in the first place.
Get close enough to a high-ranking Republican operative and you’re bound to walk away from the conversation doubtless that this reasoning is perfectly rooted in place. All politicians follow the same lines – Democrats know that Republicans aren’t going to raid Social Security and Medicare and leave seniors starving in the streets, but it’s an effective narrative come midterms – but Republicans, who are always on the losing side of history, no matter how you slice it, have to play the game more ruthlessly and bold-faced.
This alternate reality is their only platform and it’s just a matter of whether the GOP leader we’re left with is smart enough to oppose these opinions wholesale or if he/she picks from them ala carte. The bozos we just welcomed this week have bought in, hook, line, and sinker to an ideology they know, intellectually, is flawed and dangerous. But quite frankly, they’d rather see Rome burn than fall into somebody else’s hands.
Photo: Roman Landmark in Barcelona by SBA73
Photo: Mike Huckabee Caricature by DonkeyHotey