Democracy is undoubtedly the least efficient form of government imaginable. Tyranny is probably the most efficient but its cost is horrible. Democracy, messy though it may be, is the one system of government which comes closest to embodying justice.
The messiness of endless debates, power struggles, policy squabbles can be frustrating but, by mutual agreement, we all tolerate a pretty high degree of frustration with our representative democracy. . .until someone starts putting a megaphone to those frustrations, releasing them from the usual constraints of courtesy and trust and magnifying them from frustrations to demands.
For a variety of reasons — including the rudeness unleashed by the internet — America is experiencing a growing danger of being dominated by blind frustration. My inclination is to say that those who hold the megaphone are as guilty as those who shout their hatred.
I’m thinking, of course, of such foolish hate-mongers as Limbaugh, Beck, “news analysts” on Fox News, and now Donald Trump. Talk radio has long been a haven for paranoia and resentment but only recently has the talk radio mentality become mainstream.
One talk show fellow in Iowa by the name of Jan Mickelson, for example, has come up with a fine solution to the problem of illegal aliens. He advocates the state claiming them as possessions, not citizens, and using them for cheap labor, housing them in tents and feeding and watering them.
Anyone doubt that the Far Right continues to advocate not just racism but outright slavery? “What’s wrong with slavery?, asks Mickelson. It had not occurred to me that there might be people who, in the name of patriotism, are more anti-American than Rush Limbaugh. Now I see I was naive.
I once considered the conspiracy buffs on talk radio to be a harmless little sub-group with no power. Now things are different. Those who are getting rich shouting their hatred are stirring up a substantial and dangerous element in our society. These dangerous people fall on a spectrum, which means their disease is essentially the same, differing only in degree. I believe that fans of Trump, listeners to Limbaugh, devotees of Fox News are quite like those who grab their guns and go into theaters and schools and churches and work places shooting people at random. They differ only in the degree to which they act out their frustrations.
The most dangerous malaise in America today is the resentment of powerlessness.
I suspect we all feel it at times and in varying degrees. I felt it this very day, in fact. I was at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, where I waited an hour and forty-five minutes past my appointment time, only to learn that my doctor had failed to order some particular test that was needed. So he set up a time for that test, another four hours later. My thought was that if they were that far behind by ten in the morning, how far behind would they be by four in the afternoon? I walked out and said I’d schedule the appointment for another day a few weeks later when I have to be back at the Clinic for another reason. Mayo is a huge machine and patients are often like sand in the gears.
I am frustrated not just with late appointments and not just with the ridiculous amounts of money involved but with America’s health care system as a whole. It began falling to pieces and becoming outrageously expensive when it was taken over not by charitable organizations but by businessmen and their MBAs. There is no one person at fault, no one we can blame. It is the system that is so badly messed up.
When we think of the government, we all agree that Washington is bordering on total dysfunctionality. In very large measure, this is because “compromise” has become a dirty word among conservatives. They have become arrogant, self-righteous, demanding that all things go their way. Democracy will never be like that, however. It is a messy mixture of your needs and mine, his demands and hers.
The bizarre irony is that the very people who are now shouting their anger loudest — or cheering Trump for shouting for them — are the ones who have contributed most to the disemboweling of our national government. They are daily making the problem worse and blaming everyone else for it.
What immature behavior Trump is exhibiting and inspiring!