America: More Fool You

I have often said, of the 2016 U.S. presidential election, that the extent to which the Washington establishment now owns the souls of the American people may be measured by the fact that the supposed “two-party system” presented a choice between arguably the two worst human beings in the entire country, and almost every voter — a hundred and twenty-eight million adults — acceded to that choice.

Now knowing beyond any doubt that they could literally throw two cardboard cutouts up there, two circus clowns, or two fictional television characters, and nevertheless count on gaining all those same people’s votes again and again, in perpetuity, the establishment has apparently decided, like poker sharks who know they are playing with house money and a loaded deck, to up the ante this time around. Thus, it seems that if the establishment gets its way (which it invariably does), 2020 will be the first U.S. presidential election featuring a contest between the two dumbest and most intellectually incurious human beings in the country.

On one side, you have Donald Trump, who is essentially the encyclopedia entry on the category “Dumb and Intellectually Incurious.” On the other, you have Joe Biden, who was already a buffoon when in perfect health, but is now clearly suffering through a fairly advanced stage of dementia, senility, second childhood, or whatever label you prefer.

Regarding Biden’s current mental state, allow me to declare three things right now, for the record:

First, I will not spend time sarcastically analyzing or mocking Biden’s gaffes and confusions during this campaign. He is obviously in serious decline. He is seventy-seven years old. He is spending hours of each day in the public eye, exactly where a person in his condition least belongs. This is sad and awful, politics aside. There have been cases of dementia, Alzheimer’s, or other forms of progressive cognitive deterioration in my family. Few things are more disturbing to watch. This campaign is truly one of those situations in which, however funny Biden’s mistakes may be — and they will often be very funny — the most tasteful public response will be, “There but for the grace of God go I.”

This does not mean that no one is allowed to comment on his condition, since the candidate’s actual mental functioning is certainly a legitimate electoral issue. Nor does it mean one is immoral for smiling at the absurdity of some of the things coming out of his mouth; laughter is one of the natural ways human beings cope with the sadder aspects of our common fate.

Secondly, the Democrats will have some interesting choices to make during, and, should Biden actually win the presidency, after this campaign. I remember the anger and cynicism with which many on that side responded to Trump’s 2018 medical evaluation, nitpicking over the president’s body mass index and attacking his doctor’s informal praise of his health. Essentially, they were accusing the doctor and the White House of falsifying his medical report to protect his presidency. Should Biden ever be in the position of having to submit to a health exam, there is little doubt that he will be found to be in a state of intellectual deterioration, suffering from terrible memory lapses, unable to process or reproduce basic information properly, and so on. Will the Democrats allow such a report to be made public? Will they question the authenticity of a report that describes Biden as mentally healthy, or attack the professional integrity of the doctor who issues such a benign report?

I think we can already guess the answer, based on the fact that the entire party establishment, including most of his former Democratic primary rivals, is circling the wagons for him now, as I write, in spite of the fact that not a day goes by that he doesn’t say something uncomfortably, painfully demonstrative of a mind at sea.

Thirdly, Republican establishment sheep and Trump cult members — that Venn diagram would be quite a bore — ought to be careful what they say in mocking or questioning the mental acuity of Joe Biden, for at least two reasons: (a) If ever there was a case of “Takes one to know one,” this would be it; and (b) The cruel, vindictive, and pitiless mockery — what I call the “twelve-year-old mean girl” temperament — that comprises the core of both Donald Trump’s humor and his campaign style, would, if he and his worshippers chose to apply it in this instance, be the ugliest demonstration imaginable of just how far down the toilet the Trump GOP has taken America, a nation formerly and famously grounded in the presumed basic decency and sense of fair play of its citizens. 

Having said all that, I have to conclude where I began: 2020 is shaping up to be the single most overt and avoidable humiliation that America — or perhaps any democratic country — has ever dealt itself. “Avoidable?” you ask. Yes, easily avoidable — if a hundred and twenty million adults suddenly woke up to the blatant and eminently provable fact that they’ve been had, royally and completely, by vanity-driven puppets and their tyrannical puppet-masters.

Of course, I know all too well that this simple revelation will not occur. Atomistic comforts, hedonistic materialism, and a nihilistic deference to the ultimate demands of amusement are a sufficient guarantor against such self-understanding. If you told those hundred and twenty million that their nation could be free and moral again, and their leaders as honor-bound and rational as George Washington, if only a majority of them would agree to give up spectator sports, primetime television, and pop music between now and November 3rd, I am one hundred percent certain that the next president would be either Joe Biden or Donald Trump. The American people no longer desire liberty. That’s all there is to it.

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