The national conventions are ended, and battle lines are drawn for the coming elections. Sorting through the rhetoric, something seems to be missing, and it makes this election very different from others.
This election brings a change of focus that does not bode well.
When billionaire entrepreneur Peter Thiel spoke at the Republican National Convention, few realized it, but his speech signaled a shift. The first openly homosexual speaker to address a Republican convention said that it was time to abandon the “fake cultural war” and get on with the business of making money.
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And while Thiel’s view hardly represented the whole assembly or even the party’s platform, implicit in his heavily-applauded message was the idea that moral principles are not as important anymore. It’s time to move on to something more pragmatic. What matters is money and getting the job done. Indeed, Thiel’s comment redefines the idea of making America great again in terms of jobs, wages, and trade, not moral principles and character. Such things are a “distraction,” as he put it.
This same message was echoed differently at the Democratic National Convention. There, the billionaire and millionaire speakers employed class struggle rhetoric against the rich, called for increased worker benefits, and demanded free college for all. While the money in question may belong to someone else, the materialist message of confiding in the dollar was the same. A big government share-fest of tax dollars will solve the nation’s ills. The major focus of their convention centered on the redistribution of benefits to all. For the Democrats, however, the culture war is not a fake distraction but the crown jewel of their platform, as they continue to pursue their radical social agenda vigorously.
Much more than in times past, both parties are basing their radically different positions on the same set of liberal values in which money and material benefits rule. Moral values and principles are side-stepped or ignored.
There is one major problem with such a perspective. To the degree that society abandons moral values, it loses the human element in any proposed solution. Gone is the warmth and meaning to all that is human, and that should influence everything, including politics. A harsh cold wind will continue to blow in the coming months.
When the cold rule of money becomes dominant, it communicates a gaudy superficiality and a lack of authenticity to everything. Indeed, as the nation endured its two political conventions, there is the sensation that everything was just too painstakingly choreographed to be real. There were exaggerated and unconvincing efforts to inject warmth into some very “un-warm” candidates. The general tone of the conventions seemed to reflect values without principles, feelings without substance and empty personas without character.
When this human moral element is removed, everything becomes uncivil, uncouth and, vulgar. A different kind of “fake culture war” breaks out, in which there is no real culture present. Nor is there war with rules of engagement, but only a slugfest of hype, posturing, and insults. The only thing real is the fakeness. It is no coincidence that the parties are left with two abrasive candidates, almost equally disliked by the public at large. So much of the electorate feels unrepresented and craves the authenticity of a genuinely representative figure who would know how to interpret their desires and needs.
The conventions were supposed to energize the nation behind their candidates. They should have set the stage for an honorable contest to decide the best person to place in control of the fate of this great nation and the West. Instead, they created an atmosphere of bitterness and utter fatigue.
Alas, what is missing from the coming elections is a sense of honor that would bring back the human element to the debate. And that missing honor is bothering a lot of voters.