Thumbs Up?

August 30, 2020

by Steve Stofka

I tuned into the Republican National Convention (RNC) for a short time and learned that everything is ok. 175,000 people dead from COVID – ok. Millions of people out of work – ok. Older folks losing their retirement savings and a lifetime of sweat equity as their businesses close – ok. Seniors unable to get their medications and prescriptions on time – ok. People lined up at food banks – ok. People sitting on their furniture after being evicted – OK.

Black men being shot down for non-compliance to police orders – ok. Peaceful and violent protests in cities around the country  – ok. Food left rotting in the fields – ok. Growers can’t get H-2B visas to hire foreign workers and Americans don’t want the jobs – ok. More suicides, especially by former military – ok. More domestic abuse – ok. More drug abuse – ok.

The White House – our house – used for political grandstanding- that’s ok. This week American soldiers in an MRAP in Syria sideswiped and injured by Russian soldiers – that’s ok. The president is pulling troops out. Deficits of many trillions of dollars – ok.

As long as the stock market is up, it’s all ok.

In Shakespearean tragedies a powerful man – always a man – is brought down by one fatal flaw of character. Circumstance exposes the flaw. Othello, Hamlet, Macbeth, Richard III, King Lear. English students are asked to identify the fatal flaw and explain their choice. Students are asked to privately imagine themselves in a position of power. What would be their fatal flaw?

Can a great nation have a fatal flaw? James Madison and Alexander Hamilton worried that democracy would lead to mob rule and bring down our country. Thomas Jefferson worried that regional interests would create a ruling aristocracy and a nation ruled by monarchy. I watched a few minutes of the White House pomp on Thursday night. Our president embodies both fears of our founders. 

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Notes:

Photo by Max Muselmann on Unsplash

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