Have you noticed the erosion that is occurring with the political landscape of America? If you are not aware of this erosion, then it is probably because the media and the political pundits have not sounded the alarm yet. Nevertheless, the telltale signs of this political erosion are there and they include divisiveness, unethical behavior, conspiracy theories, and propaganda.
The political erosion that is quietly affecting social life and the political process in Washington is not a new phenomenon. The agents responsible for the erosion of the political system surfaced during presidential campaigns in 2000 and possibly before that time. These agents manifested themselves as voter suppression, campaign donations, unwarranted congressional investigations, and other political misconduct.
In physical erosion like occurs with soil, there is a natural agents like wind and water that are responsible for the erosion. With the political erosion, the responsible agents are the anti-Obama crusade, the fifth estate support of the conservative crusade, and large campaign contributions from wealthy donors. These agents have corrupted the political process and changed the outcome of elections.
The anti-Obama crusade – this crusade began with the GOP leaders setting the stage when Senator Mitch McConnell said on the historic election night in 2008, “My priority is to make this president a one term president.” Soon after Senator McConnell’s Machiavellian type comments were made, Rush Limbaugh said, “I want this president to fail.” From that point forward the conservative crusade against President Obama picked up momentum like a train speeding down the track without brakes.
With the GOP leaders setting the stage for the anti-Obama crusade and with their lack of principled leadership, they opened the floodgate for the unprecedented disrespect and demonization of President Obama. The rank and file of the Republican Party called the president lazy, a liar, naïve, incompetent, un-American, and many other uncomplimentary things. And when they were not making their mean spirited comments they were scheming to delegitimize him – Birther conspiracy theory, calls for his impeachment, unwarranted investigations, thwarting his agenda (constant talk to repeal ObamaCare, shutting down the government, and sending letter to the Iran Ayatollahs to scuttle the nuclear deal with that country.
The GOP has opposed everything that President Obama has tried to implement. It is only through his political savviness that he is able to prevail over them and get things done.
Despite the failure of the anti-Obama crusade, the GOP continues their crusade with support from the conservative media news outlet like Fox TV and other radio talk shows. Unfortunately, for America, the partisan support that Fox TV provide to the anti-Obama crusade has contributed to the erosion of the political landscape. Even when the GOP made political blunders, Fox TV turns a blind eye or attempts to do damage control for them.
The fifth estate – traditionally, the fifth estate was defined as journalists associated with the mainstream television (CBS, ABC, and NBC), newspapers (New York Times, Washington Post, etc.). The political landscape then was not divisive and corrupt as it is today. This change occurred with the advent of cable TV and the Internet.
The impact of cable TV and the Internet on society is evident. Both media have opened a new frontier of disseminating news, entertainment, and have created an environment where there seems to be no borders. Cable TV has given us talk shows that promote partisan politics. The Internet has given us e-news and bloggers. These changes have not just expanded the fifth estate, but also diluted the objective and ethical principles of journalism.
In the July issue of Maclean’s online magazine, an article, The divided America that Jon Stewart leaves behind, states,
Any time Stewart appeared away from the Daily Show, without his comedian’s mask, he would argue that the U.S. was basically a united country being artificially divided by the media. In 2010, he gave his fullest account of this belief at the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear, which started as a part of the of similar rallies by Glenn Beck, but ended with Stewart given a totally sincere speech against the menace of partisanship. He argued that “most Americans don’t live their lives solely as Democrats, Republicans, liberals or conservatives,” and that the cable news media was partly to blame for making Americans fear and distrust each other: “the country’s-24 hour political pundit perpetual panic conflictinator did cause our problems, but it’s existence makes solving them much harder.” That same year, he said on MSNBC that”the fight in the country is corruption versus not corruption,” not left vs. right.
The political divisiveness and hatred of President Obama is the manifestation of what Jon Stewart is alluding to in the Maclean’s article. This divisiveness and hatred did not occur because of anything President Obama did or that the American people started. It occurred for one simple reason – the GOP’s hatred of an African American president.
What the GOP anti-Obama crusade and conservative media like Fox TV have done is to create fear, mistrust, and division between Americans. Many Americans who now believe that President Obama has taken the country down the wrong path manifest these problems. We hear and see this in the Tea Party mantra, “We want our country back,” in the unwarranted call to impeach the president, and the disrespect that sometimes include racial epithets and innuendos.
Donald Trump, the GOP front-runner in the 2016 presidential candidates also promotes the fear and pessimism about the country. Trumps campaign theme is, “Make America great again.” This theme implies that President Obama has weakened America. If America is weak, as Mr. Trump seems to believe, then he himself has played a role in doing so with his Birther conspiracy theory.
Large campaign contributions from wealthy donors –this agent is perhaps the most serious one as it undermines the very essence of democracy. When wealthy individuals like the Koch brothers contribute large sums of money to politicians, they in effect buy them out so that they are no longer accountable to the people who elected them. They also corrupt the political environment making it almost impossible for the implementation of policies that can benefit America.
Americans need to demand measures to stop the erosion of the political landscape. This is a challenge, as they will have to get a recalcitrant GOP to make significant changes to help move America forward. These changes must include new leadership that is more positive, objective, ethical, and politically smarter. The GOP Machiavellian type of politics has no place in a country that prides itself on its democracy and its status as the leader of the free world.
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