By Former Assemblyman Steven Sanders
I continue to watch the Republican debates. There was another one just the other Thursday. And like the reality TV shows in vogue these days, the number of contestants seem to get whittled down each episode. Last week there were only four candidate survivors left.
In ancient Rome, the ruling class put on shows in their coliseum to appease the populace. They brought gladiators into the arena who fought one and other in bloody savage spectacles. The losers were cast to the lions and the winners went on to participate in more such events, all to the roaring approval of the masses.
So here we are two thousand years later and we are witness to the Republican Party’s reprise of the coliseum. Their contestants board the stage in front of a throng of ravenous and raucous supporters in the auditorium and millions more watching on TV. We are treated to obscenity laced rhetoric and juvenile taunts and insults being hurled at one and other like spears and swords from an earlier time. These modern day gladiators are competing for their political lives with the ultimate prize being a shot at the presidency.
Like the Roman death shows, there are seemingly no rules anymore. No boundaries of civility or decency. Whoever yells the loudest and says the most outrageous things seems to win the approval of the crowd. Of course Donald Trump mastered this form of combat faster and better than his opponents, but they are fighting back now employing the same crude tactics.
So we are now exposed to comments like “Little Marco” or “Lying Ted” or allusions to the size of one’s genitals or whether someone has an overactive sweat gland or chokes under pressure, and on and on. And the crowd roars its approval or groans to show their disdain for one or the other combatants. You can almost see in your mind’s eye Caesar rising with thumbs up or thumbs down. This is what today passes as a Presidential debate.
It sure ain’t Lincoln/Douglas or Kennedy/Nixon! It more closely resembles an episode of Jerry Springer.
But this is the devolution of our political process, at least within the Republican Party. It is back to the coliseum days where only the roughest and most aggressive survive. Where vile attacks and verbal slurs now passes for political discourse. Language and behavior that you would chastise your children for is now accepted political currency. It is wearisome. It is degrading.
I say feed the whole bunch of them to the lions!