The Republican Debate: A Confederacy of Charlatans!

Herman Caine: Presidental Wanna-be


Uncle Remus with Attitude: Still telling fables to amuse racist white folks


Witnessing the Twilight of American Civilization

As I listened to the so-called debate between Republican candidates for President of the United States last night several things came to mind.  First there was a sense of dread and disbelief that any one of this confederacy of buffoons, fops, charlatans and clowns could be seriously considered to manage the affairs of this great and complex nation; which is in deep crisis and our standing in the eyes of the world is free falling.  I reflected on what it tells us about the Republican assessment of the intellectual level of the American electorate.   Do these people really believe the muddled, simple minded, drivel they spouted is what the voters want to hear? 

It left no doubt that they have a very low opinion of the general intelligence of the American people – which I have long believed is a critical part of the Republican calculus for victory at the polls.  And while it is disturbing that their estimation is so low, it is terrifying that they are more often than not right!  Finally I reflected on our main rival for world dominance in this new century, the People’s Republic of China, a rapidly rising Asian colossus who is practically our central banker, and had to fight off a panic attack. As I listened to these Republican pretenders to the most powerful office in the world make assertion after assertion that were either fantasies, tall tales or outright lies, my emotions went from amused contempt to despair. 

The mere fact that one of the two major American political parties could put forth this motley crew as their best choices for President is a sign that our nation is in a state of serious decline.  For me it was irrefutable evidence that Thomas Jefferson’s warning at the creation of our unique democracy, an experiment in popular government that all of the aristocracies of Europe ridiculed, certain it would soon result in chaos and failure because the untutored mob could not govern – was prophetic.  “A democracy can’t work with an ignorant electorate because they will elect and return the worst people to power,” said the prescient Jefferson, the premier intellectual of the American enlightenment who revered reason so highly he founded the University of Virginia which remains among the world’s best over two centuries later.

Jefferson’s warning was offered as an argument in favor of establishing a system of “free and compulsory education,” which became the basis of our public schools.  Once the envy of the world and the incubator of American genius that drew talent from all classes and regions of our nation, we witnessed Newt Gingrich – the acknowledged deep thinking intellectual in the debate – issue a passionate plea for the abandonment of our public schools in favor of the spurious and unproven idea of charter schools. 

As I listened to the applause from the audience while this verbose charlatan prattled on ad nauseum – followed by the candidates trying to outdo each other with vitriolic attacks on all our public institutions, the federal government being the most vilified of all – I could not escape the sinking feeling that our popular democracy is hopelessly dysfunctional and could well be the engine of America’s decline in our time.  It has been an unquestioned article of faith in the American civic religion that democracies will always triumph over authoritarian systems, but as I witness the precipitous decline of the US and the rapid rise of China, that faith is now called into question. 

For instance, as illiteracy and basic competence in the English language decline in America due to our failing underfunded public schools the Chinese, whose schools teach to a curriculum based on national standards designed to promote universal excellence, decided that all Chinese students would be proficient in reading and writing English by age 13.  And they are now the world’s largest English speaking nation!  They are also turning out more engineers than we are, although it is hard to say just what the figure is.  It had become conventional wisdom that China was graduating almost ten times as many engineers but a study conducted by Duke University’s engineering found the figure to be greatly inflated. 

The real figure is 2 ½ times as many.  They also found that the best Indian and Chinese engineers are as good as our best but on average American engineers are better educated.  However the Chinese have set a goal of graduating 600,000 engineers a year, and as in India if a student qualifies they don’t have to worry about money.  Whereas it is getting harder and harder for American students from poor or average families to finance an education. 

If the Republicans have their way it’s going to get even harder to match China and India’s output in engineers because our students are not being properly prepared in high school to succeed in difficult technical majors like engineering.  Whoever masters science and engineering will own the future!  Instead of properly funding our decrepit schools the Republicans promote outsourcing engineering work to India and China, whom American corporations can hire at a faction of the cost of American engineers, and recruit talented foreign students to our engineering schools in the hope that they will choose to settle in the US .  But they have no plans for producing more home grown engineers.  Yet the Chinese graduate students who live in my neighborhood scoff at the idea of stayin here when I ask them…and I ask them evey chance I get.  One of them proudly pointed out to me that Shanghi has five times as many skyscrapers as New York!

The implications of the Republican talkfest last night is frightening.  While we are engaged in economically ruinous foreign wars – mention of which was avoided like the plague – racing to dismantle our great public institutions and allowing our infrastructure to crumble, while bankrupting our national treasury in favor of enhancing private wealth, a unified and purposeful China is forging ahead at warp speed.  They are investing mightily in building the most modern infrastructure in the world, supporting science and innovative technology, developing their human capital, and staying out of foreign wars.  They are assiduously minding their business and leaving everybody else’s alone!    

The Chinese have a formula for success, while the Republicans are proposing a prescription for decline.   Yet millions of American voters are enthusiastically swallowing this self-destructive poison served up by the Tea Party as they revel in bread and circuses, oblivious to the crumbling society around them.  This attitude is best exemplified by the Weeper of the House John Boehner, who cavalierly announced that he would rather watch the football game tonight than listen to the President’s speech on the government’s role in solving the economic crisis that has wrecked the lives of millions of Americans. The fact that the present economic crisis is a product of Republican folly adds insult to injury!  

After watching the audience repeatedly applaud clueless Herman Caine, Batty Michel Bachman, Mitt the Stiff, Poot-Butt Newt, Sick Rick Perry, and Little Ricky Sanotarium, I was left with the sinking feeling that they were dancing a macabre ghost dance, enshrouded by a fog of ignorance and lies that blots out the twilight of America’s decline!  

 The New Center Of the world?

An Ancient Civilization Rises Again


 And this time they are prepared to defend themselves!


The New Chinese Aircraft Carrier:

The most destructive weapon in the world?






Playthell Benjamin

Harlem, New York

September 8, 2011

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: