The Democrat debate farce
The first two Democrat debates were the height of farce. They featured hilarious, inconsequential, and pure bilge being passed off as serious political worldviews.
What characterizes a farce? A farce is a literary piece that "contains highly improbable situations, stereotyped characters, violent horseplay, extravagant exaggeration." Collinsdictionary.com suggests that "[i]f you describe a situation or event as a farce, you mean that it is so disorganized or ridiculous that you cannot take it seriously."
During the first night's debates on NBC among ten of the Democratic presidential contenders, Robert "Beto" O'Rourke answered a straightforward question in Spanish, without even translating his answer. This was a startling and amateurish moment, considering that no one knew what he was talking about, and he did not even bother to explain. Cory Booker looked at him sidewise, as did an obviously surprised Elizabeth Warren. Neither laughed although his sudden excursion into a foreign language was excruciatingly funny. Putting forward an idea you consider vastly important in a language that only a few understand is the height of hilarity. Yet, only moments later, Booker, who had, it seemed, looked askance at O'Rourke, followed suit by also speaking in Spanish, but he had the wisdom to translate his remarks. His finesse took away from the absurdity of answering in a foreign tongue.
This writer was expecting Bernie Sanders to come out speaking in Yiddish last night. This would be his answer to Jewish critics who say his support for Israel is at best too equivocal and at worst a betrayal of his Jewish identity. However, Bernie did not take the same demagogic path as Booker or O'Rourke. Instead, he took a more farcical path intended to leave us rolling in the aisles as we contemplated his "vision for America." He came out saying the policies and laws in themselves are not at issue, but the country needs a president who comes out foursquare against the rich, the corporations, the banks, insurance companies, big oil, big pharma, private practice of medicine (hence, he's against the AMA), and the military-industrial complex. He basically was screaming in his best barking Brooklynese accents that his leadership is defined by what he is against, not what he is for.
Hearing him spew this nonsense, while laughing at the backwardness of his concepts, one can see clearly why he was in the shadows of American politics until our disintegrating system under President Barack Obama allowed him to seem a plausible national leader when he competed with Hillary for the 2016 nomination. He takes Obama's left-wing orientation to the next level of anti-Americanism.
This exaggeration of Obama is not building a left-wing consensus, but, as exaggeration, is building a left-wing farce. Sanders wants to overthrow the United States of America and is asking the public for permission to do so. His view is so vicious and pathetic and at the same time is being given a credible platform by NBC. It is surreal, and the surreal is a farce making a claim on reality.
As someone who at one point taught high school for over twenty years, this writer can say this question and rebuttal format with swift self-serving answers mirrored a format I have seen many times. We delightedly watched twenty persons with remarkably little gravitas standing up in the high school auditorium saying why they should be elected senior class president. Only this time, they were seeking the votes of hundreds of millions of persons, not merely a school class. Imagine this debate as a play with 25 characters — 20 candidates and five interviewers. Each character is saying, "I am the best." Meanwhile, the interviewers were throwing softball questions and spending most of their time trying to keep the speakers from arguing with each other and running over their allocated speaking and rebuttal times. They could barely keep order.
The answers were vapid and repetitive, yet there was an aggressiveness permeating the event that the interviewers could barely control. And sometimes, in answer to the question, "Why are you the best?" they would answer, "Because Pres. Donald J. Trump is the worst." Sometimes they say they are the best, as in the case of Kamala Harris, because she was bused to school despite Joe Biden's historic opposition to school busing. In other words, "You put down people like me, but I still made it big! You white people make us sit at the back of the bus, or, if you are a Biden Democrat who is a friend of segregationists, you don't want us to sit in the bus at all!" Pete Buttigieg said he is best because he survived Afghanistan and is allowed — by a one-vote margin of the Supreme Court — to be "married" to a man who kisses and caresses him when he is feeling down. Is that a rational statement, or is it a farcical communication worthy only of our hilarious guffaws?
The exchanges of claims to be the best may remind one of the play "Endgame" by Samuel Beckett. In that play, the main characters are having a dialogue as old people. Although they are engaged in the conversation, the one thing they never discuss is that they are both living in a trash can, that they have been cast aside by society. Their dialogue is absurd (farcical) in light of this greater existential reality. Likewise, the self-engrossed debaters are criticizing one point after another in their leftwing agenda, repeatedly stating how the income, health, environment, and safety of the people of America are being trampled on day and night. It seems that none of them is properly aware that the American society that they are so critical of has brought them to positions of power, authority, and affluence. The America they despise has allowed them to become big successes.
Most of the debaters insisted that climate change is properly called a "climate crisis." How anyone of them is qualified to deal with life-defying changes in nature of the magnitude claimed is never addressed. Julian Castro boasted (Muhammed Ali's "I am the greatest" is implied) that he implemented certain energy use changes in San Antonio when he was the mayor. In what sense does that qualify him to oversee policies re: atmospheric and oceanic changes throughout the entire world? Impressed with his opinions and his career, he exaggerates his expertise and underestimates his ignorance.
Likewise, Bernie (again, the farcical boasting of Bernie) speaking of our border crisis, said that the real problems of migrants originate in their home countries – such as Honduras or Guatemala -- and should be dealt with hemispherically. Yet, non-interference in the internal affairs of our Latin American neighbors has been an essential policy since Franklin Delano Roosevelt initiated the Good Neighbor Policy as an alternative to our being a perceived threat to Latino sovereignty. Bernie's barking bluster seems strangely ignorant of historical reality. Hence, the farce of speaking in passionate tones; yet not realizing the reality or context in which one is speaking.
It is hilarious to hear 20 persons boasting "I am the best" when their tirades and self-aggrandizement lacks substance and evidence. While laughing uproariously, we can reject them all.