The art of the political cartoon has, like everything else in our culture, been diluted by over exposure. There are so many outlets for their product that cartoonists have been driven to specificity, focusing their visual sarcasm on the minutia rather than the broader issues. I was heartened to see the exception to that in our local paper recently and trust I’m not violating any copyright laws by reproducing it here.
I’m further heartened by a comment that one or another knowledgeable talking head made recently on TV. He stated, in so many words, that, yes, one-third of the population in this country is totally out of touch with reality. But, he continued, it has been like that throughout the history of the United States. For me, that provided both a thoughtful relief and a justification of my long-standing belief that the English sent all the criminals to Australia and all the crazy people to the North American colonies. With William Penn, of course, being the exception.
Perhaps the biggest difference between now and normal times is not in the number of crazies, but in their volume. The information explosion, the availability of every nutcase to blare his/her nonsense endlessly and at full blast across the entire county, is what is disturbing the previous balance.
Normal people don’t continually rant. They don’t easily subscribe to outlandish conspiracy theories. They have, or had, or at least wish to have, some degree of confidence in their institutions, not a wish to destroy them. They just want social order, peace and quiet, so they can get on with the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness. It takes some prodding to get them off their couches and out into the street or into the voting booth.
Polls show that the overwhelming majority of Americans, the silent majority, favor things like stricter gun control, a woman’s right to choose, term and contribution limits in politics, controlling climate change, civil public discourse and a whole range of common sense approaches to the challenges that plague our democracy. Benjamin Franklin so artfully suggested after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, “A republic, if you can keep it.” Well, now is one of those times in our history that demands the silent majority step forward to keep it.
We’ll have to see what eventually wins out in our current struggle, which pits social analogues of two of the laws of the physical universe, equilibrium and entropy, in tension. If the majority stay on their couches in November we are in for a bleak future of minority rule. However, with the current House Committee hearings and the complete abdication of moral responsibility by the Supreme Court, what seemed a slam dunk for the dark side in the coming November elections may not be inevitable.