Friday, April 20, 2012

Trivialities

Ezra Klein's column this morning talks about the minute matters that have been blown out of proportion during this political campaign season--issues like Romney's treatment of dogs, or the remarks about Ann Romney by a Democratic consultant. After learning about one of these tiny stories, Klein says, he " felt a little worse about [him]self for being in any way involved in the tornado of idiocy that is American politics."

The tornado of idiocy has got you down, Ezra? Me too! And we still have more than six months to go in the presidential campaign. This election is about some pretty fundamental issues. But my guess is that the level of debate about those issues is going to be pretty low, and we are going to spend most of our time focusing on much smaller stuff. Klein is thankful at least that most Americans are not paying attention to politics at all, so they do not get obsessed about the small stuff the way those of us who pay a lot of attention to politics do. 

I wonder why we can't have the national debate we deserve about the big issues that seem to be dividing us at the moment. Could be because we don't make much headway trying to move opponents on those issues, so we would just as soon talk about trivialities and small scandals. And most people probably wouldn't pay any more attention to a lofty debate about the parties' respective tax policies, for example, than they will to all the silly stuff. If the people aren't paying much attention right now, maybe there's no sense in the political classes getting steamed up about anything, big or small. When we reach a certain level of disgust with the whole process, it's probably best just to take a break for a while.


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