Monday, September 30, 2013

Politics by Terrorism?

One of the more interesting issues raised by HBO's The Newsroom involved the decision of the news anchor character to refer to the TEA Party as the "American Taliban." This was his way of venting his disgust at the way in which a well-financed minority had succeeded in hijacking what had previously been a rather wide class of values embraced by those who called themselves Republicans. The script for The Newsroom made it clear that the financing is in the hands of a few individuals who cared little for the values of TEA Party constituents themselves but simply (and selfishly) realized that those individual would be the perfect pawns for the large game they wished to play. Indeed, as has been recently observed, the best way to get the pawns to move is to exploit their feelings of "racial resentment."

There was thus some justification to that Taliban metaphor. The implication was that power was all that matters, not only having it but also exercising it for self-interest "by any means necessary." As I write this, the shutdown of the United States Government has pretty much been written off as inevitable. However, by following this story through the BBC, I realized that such terrorist tactics were also jeopardizing basic principles of representative government on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean in Italy. There we have Silvio Berlusconi, convicted guilty of tax-fraud, about to bring down the current government because, regardless of his criminal status, he still maintains control over what had been the ruling coalition.

Is it any wonder that there are so many people out there struggling to make ends meet who are now doubting whether or not the public good is really being served by the principles of government itself?

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