Stop Being Manipulated. Start Thinking!

There is, of course, little that is more satisfying than watching the hypocrisy of our nation’s leaders being cruelly exposed—we love it.  

Whether it is members of Congress trading stocks based on insider information—while writing the laws that punish others for doing the same—or our nation’s leading journalists steadfastly refusing to return the awards they won for spreading the Russia-gate hoax, we are daily bombarded with examples of misconduct crashing headlong into individual and institutional sanctimony.  There is no crook quite so pitiable and foolish as the one who loudly accuses others of being crooks, and we are drawn to their exposure like moths to a flame.

This is a problem.

For example, the saga of the classified documents, which apparently date back to his Vice-Presidency, locked in Joe Biden’s home garage with his beloved Corvette has been the source of a tremendous amount of laughter and disdain after his many cutting comments directed at Donald Trump for doing much the same.

Both Republicans and Democrats will talk themselves blue seeking the elusive high moral ground of this sequence of bizarre and boneheaded moves by both our former and present Presidents.

Why either Donald Trump or Joe Biden thought it was necessary to leave the White House with boxes of classified documents has yet to be revealed, but we can already be certain that their lawyers will obfuscate the truth and obliterate logic as they seek to both defend their clients and concoct juicy morsels of self-serving falsehoods to feed to ever-hungry partisans.

By the time the court cases are finished, few will care anymore, which will suit all those involved just fine.  The goal of these legal exercises is not to determine guilt or innocence, although both Mr. Trump and Mr. Biden will inevitably be found to have violated provisions of archival codes and procedures—at the very least.  

The true purpose of these investigations, as with so much of what passes for governance today, is theatrical, a sort of Orwellian two-minute hate that riles up the bases of our two political parties and allows career politicians lurking in the wings to seize the spotlight and grasp for a higher office.

Perhaps we will somehow manage to have a few useful conversations about the overuse of secrecy statutes in government, the politicization of federal law enforcement, and the inconsistencies and loopholes concerning the preservation of important federal documents.  However, most of what we hear will be braying voices that are concerned solely with spinning these sad and confusing episodes of stupidity into political gain.  To win the war, both Democrats and Republicans must rely on character assassination—not facts.

Raw emotion is today the most useful tool available to those who want to use fear, anger, and hatred to win our votes.

If we understand that we are being manipulated, we perhaps have some hope of staying focused on the actual challenges now facing our nation.  All of our levels of government are going broke borrowing, spending, and overpromising—and each of us is now on the hook for over $94,000 of federal debt alone.  We are weakening our national defense by shoveling weaponry into a proxy war in Ukraine that is spiraling ever closer to a widespread conflict over which we will have little control.  We are destroying our nation from within with racial, gender, and legal theories that make us demonstrably more unsafe and unhappy both as individuals and as a society.  

Worst of all, regardless of the topic or situation, we increasingly find facts annoying and prefer to focus inward, so our own angst impedes the pursuit of answers that might lead to resolutions devoid of suspicions and blaming.

No solution can possibly salve every wound, meet every need, or provide perfect justice in our imperfect nation full of imperfect people, and this is a grim reality of adulthood.  Our adolescent predilection for nursing our private grievances and refusing to support reasonable compromises that recognize other Americans might be equally as wise—and equally injured by fate—as ourselves is a bad habit continually enabled and encouraged by censorious demagogues who have no business occupying positions of trust and authority in our nation.

We can save our America—and ourselves—only if we recognize that we are often being treated like lab rats by those whom we presume to be our leaders.  We need to stop reacting and start thinking.  If we do not, very dark days are ahead.