Political debate used to be thoughtful and reflective. Delivered with grace and eloquence. Political orations were sometimes so resonant they’re still being quoted. And the orators live on in our memory.
From Ancient Greece and Rome, we have such immortals as Socrates, Plato, Aristotle. Cicero and Pericles.
Great Britain gave us Fox and Burke. And, later, Winston Churchill (some of his pearls are undoubtedly repeated in the new movies about World War II). There are far too many other great British orators to name here.
In American lore, we have Frederick Douglas, William Jennings Bryan, Daniel Webster, Abraham Lincoln, Patrick Henry, John Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr….
I’m sure you can add to the list. My personal favorites include Barack Obama. But you might disagree. You might include Ronald Reagan instead.
Sadly, the Age of Trump has brought us a different style of debate, or more accurately polemics.
Everything is delivered in superlatives. Nothing is just great, it has to be the greatest. Nothing is just bad, it has to be the worst calamity in the history of the United States (or even mankind).
Facts are forgotten in the frenetic frenzy. In the Age of Trump, nothing is too preposterous to be proposed with conviction, nothing too contradictory to be argued with passion, nothing too false on its face to be presented as incontrovertible fact.
The president’s bombastic, barefaced mendacity is matched (sometimes even exceeded) by his disciples in the media. And they attain ever-more-lunatic heights as they mimic his maniacal style, desperately reaching for new extremes as they strive to outdo each other.
Sean Hannity’s recent raving about the Nunes memo is a case in point. He has abandoned any semblance of sanity.
I wonder if the public finds this kind of bloviated baloney entertaining. I know they cannot possibly find it believable. Eventually, they will surely tire of it and change the channel.
Let’s pray the latter-day Jeremiahs don’t trigger some real catastrophe before they fade into obscurity.