When poets and philosophers speak of the absurdity of life, they are referring to human behavior. The history of humanity is replete with absurdities punctuated with the occasional bursts of genius that eventually lift human civilization to new heights of art, science and awareness.
America is currently in a period of absurdity with a large segment of the population embroiled in a bitter ideological dispute that has divided them into mutually antagonistic tribes contending for supremacy through government.
Nearly all the pressing issues confronting the nation are considered through the confining perspectives of liberal or conservative belief systems. Proponents of each are certain that their approach is the best while that of the other side is stupid and evil. Compromise and reason are forfeit to obstinance and selfishness.
Meanwhile, critical problems fester and worsen.
The most apparent manifestation of this absurdity involves the presidency of Donald Trump. It isn’t that a large minority of Americans voted for him, it’s that millions of Americans continue to support him.
I understand the anger and frustration that incited people to vote for Trump. They wanted a blunt instrument of change who would bludgeon the venal duopoly and force the federal government into actually working for the people rather than for the special interests that have captured it. Many Trump voters would have voted for Bernie Sanders for the same reasons.
But how can rational people of good conscience continue to support a man whose brazen misconduct, intellectual indigence, unethical behavior, clumsy diplomacy, incoherent policies and perpetual mendacity undermine America’s constitutional republic and destroy the dignity of the U.S. presidency — reducing it to a 24/7 reality show, all about him?
An objective evaluation of Trump the man finds a shady real estate developer with a long history of tawdry immorality and unethical business practices. An objective observation of Trump the president finds an inarticulate, inept, bloviating braggart behaving disgracefully and endangering the republic.
Not only is he a proven and obvious chronic liar, but worse, he seems to actually believe his own lies. He is divorced from truth, and, like right out of the Hans Christian Andersen tale, The Emperor’s New Clothes, creates an alternate reality in which he and his sycophantic staff and oblivious supporters reside.
Those Republican office holders who continue to support and defend Trump, especially those who know better, are contemptible cowards more concerned with self-interest than with honor, and with party rather than with country. They are egregiously complicit in undermining constitutional rule and national security.
Many people who continue to support Trump do so with the same unquestioning conviction and fervor of religious true-believers. Any information, cogent arguments or empirical facts that contradict their beliefs are simply ignored — or dismissed as proof of some alleged conspiracy.
Faith supersedes facts and some kind of ideological rapture supplants reality.
So, when Trump tells them that Mexico will pay for a border wall, that anthropogenic climate change is a hoax, that there is a “deep state” bogeyman out to get him, that trade wars are easy to win, and that he will get them all indoor plumbing, these rubes believe him.
These denizens of delusion believe anything he tells them and condone anything he does, and they do so with a seething, smugness, a sneering defiance of reality that is more disconcerting than infuriating.
Physicist Max Planck observed, “truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die.” I think that’s what we are dealing with here with the Trump supporters. They are beyond reason and will take their delusion to their graves.
So, it’s up to America’s rational majority to assert itself in the next election and overwhelm the Trump zombies and the pusillanimous Republican Party at the polls.
Those who regret voting for Trump, who hoped he would deliver some positive reformation, need to hit the reset button. I think that’s what the support for Joe Biden is all about, reset — “so the Trump experiment was a disaster, let’s go back to normal, settle things down and try for incremental reformation.”
Meanwhile, the support for Sanders and Elizabeth Warren is about skipping a reset to normal and going directly to radical reformation. Many political pundits agree with the faint-of-heart that, given the anti-democratic anachronism that is the Electoral College, a Warren or Sanders run against Trump risks losing the election to Trump and suffering four more years of Looney Toons in the White House.
No one knows for sure what voters really want, but it’s a good bet most of them want an intelligent, rational, honest president who honors our Constitution and represents the nation with dignity and compassion. What we have now is absurd.
Among the absurdities of the American political system are that a minority of voters can elect someone to the nation’s highest office; that the leader of the political party that holds the majority of seats in the nation’s uppermost legislature can determine when and if proposed legislation or judicial candidates can be considered and voted on by the entire body; and that voter choice is essentially limited to two entrenched political parties that are allowed to accept unlimited amounts of money from special interests, rig their congressional districts and spend the nation into bankrupting debt.
We really need one of those occasional bursts of genius to lift us out of all this absurdity.
— Randy Alcorn is a Santa Barbara political observer. Contact him at email@example.com, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.