David Bromwich's weekend post puts in bold relief what ails us. America no longer has a political system. In its place is a vaudeville of celebrity politics, bait-and-switch politics, spin politics. In sum, irresponsible sham politics. We still do have a system of governance, albeit a malfunctioning one whose impairment owes much to the loss of a mature political life.
What I mean by a democratic political system is a state of affairs wherein:
1. The citizenry at large has access to reasonably complete, accurate and fairly presented information about public matters.
2. Political leaders affirm positions that reflect to a reasonable degree the needs and the interests of the constituents they presume to represent or seek to represent.
3. There is more than a coincidental resemblance between what public figures say and what they do.
4. The press in aggregate performs its functions of facilitating the above with a reasonable degree of attentiveness and competence.
5. Together, all the above combine to frame reasonably earnest debates on matters of consequence.
This is not an idealized vision, hence the caveats of reasonableness. It was the politics we had for the half century before 1980.
Today, our politics exhibits none of these traits. Therefore the profound price we are paying is in national welfare compromised and public integrity shredded. We are fated to incur even higher costs for two reasons. As citizens, we are lax and self-absorbed; our leaders, and their predatory godfathers, prefer to keep things this way. That is true of the man in the White House, too. Most foreboding is that he is very much a man of his times. (Sub-species "enlightened"). Public purpose and conviction have no claim on persons who cannot visualize life as anything better that one unrelenting hustle.