Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Nostalgic for Nixon


When a presidential candidate says, “I could go out and shoot someone in Times Square and they’d still like me” in a boasting voice, then the rules of the game have changed. Amidst the tangible horrors of this lunatic's master plans—threats to human rights, nuclear build-up, perilous purposeful ignorance of climate change, for starters— there is the erosion of basic human ethics, morals and just plain common sense that we’ve voted in. The human capacity for adaptability can often work in our favor, but adapting to the next lower level of human decency works against us. This now is the new standard of civil discourse and it feels like a new low in human history.

In Nixon’s time, Watergate was seen as a transgression against an accepted ethics. The game had certain rules and people generally understood that politicians broke them all the time. But the one forbidden thing was to get caught. If you did, there was a public outcry and a logical consequence— you were removed from the game. It’s one of the agreements of human community that made the game work on same basic level.

Now it's like a basketball game where the players can do whatever they want and ignore the referee’s whistle. They can punch an opponent in the face and take the ball and then say they didn’t do it. Or claim the referee was just putting his liberal spin on it. Or say it wasn’t as bad as what the other player did and got away with yesterday. Or tell people to just relax and don’t get so worked up about it—it’s just a game. Who would want to watch games like this? Who would want to play?

Evil and injustice we have always had with us, but note how the game used to work:

Rule 1: Justify bad actions with some lofty moral, political or religious claim.

Rule 2: Keep the story going and hide everything that contradicts it.

Rule 3: When the truth comes out, deny everything. If that doesn’t work, show remorse and ask for   
              forgiveness.

That was the game when Nixon was President.

Now the rules of the new game:

New Rule 1: It’s true if I say it is. It’s not true if I say it isn’t.

New Rule 2: It happened if I say it did. It didn’t happen if I say it didn’t.

           New Rule 3: I am never accountable. It is always someone else's fault.

What kind of game is that? It means the end of the exposé because there’s no gap between the moral claim and the actual action. The moral justification has simply been removed. No apologies necessary, no remorse, no justification of actions (remember: you may see it on video, but it didn’t happen. That’s just liberal spin.)

In the days of MLK, social resistance meant exposure, getting the TV cameras rolling in Birmingham so citizens still capable of concern would see what had been hidden from the world and be outraged. But now what? What happens when no one cares that the Emperor has no clothes or keeps denying that he’s naked? Where do we go from there?

My friends, those of us who still have the capacity to care and be concerned and engage in civil discourse (which is a majority by popular vote) are carrying the shame and frustration of  a new era/error, where the only qualification for a job, be it President or Secretary of State of Secretary of Education or what have you, is that you are distinctly unqualified for the job. If you know something about it or care about it, you’re out. Need I say that this is deadly to human progress? 

I thought I felt a minor earthquake yesterday, but I believe it was Nixon rolling over in his grave. We miss you, Dick Nixon!!!

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