In Politico Magazine, former Chloe, Calhoun resident, professor, scholar and author Jedediah Purdy says we're "a jaded nation in noisy denial of real problems." |
"America is in a state of denial — and that inability to accept reality prohibits real discussion among its leaders on how to solve the myriad problems affecting this country," said the Duke University law professor.
"Much of our partisan division is superficial," Purdy wrote in an article for Politico Magazine. "The more basic problem is denial."
"We Americans have learned to look away from some of our hardest problems, such as inequality and climate change, and, when confronted with them, wring our hands and pretend there's nothing we can do — even when we pretend to be making a fuss about them."
Addressing such problems meaningfully, Purdy contended, "would deepen our conflict. It would reveal a country divided by material interests, not just partisan rhetoric and style. It would raise the stakes of politics.
"This is risky, but the chance might open the door to a more hopeful politics," he said.
Regarding income inequality, for instance, he described Republican attacks on new reports on the issue as "faux-outraged cries of 'class warfare' " that is nothing more than "froth compared with the real denial.
"The real denial is structural, not rhetorical," Purdy continued. "It's made up of policies that conceal difficulties and conflicts. This is the denial that we have to overcome in order to come to grips with the problems."
And, without true discussion on — and the ensuing conflict that comes from — working to solve these issues among America's leaders, the results will be merely "infernos of political passion — think of the Obama campaigns of 2008 and 2012 — followed at most by trickles of change," he said.
"All this confirms the suspicion that government is always ineffective, that politics is a show of empty gestures and hollow promises. That kind of cynicism doesn't make politics less engaging; it just makes it less consequential.
"Politics becomes a form of middle-class entertainment: a highbrow soap opera, sports for nerds, Hollywood for ugly people," Purdy said. "This kind of politics could never produce a constructive engagement with America's biggest problems.
"At best, it amuses us while we await the guillotine of austerity. In this guise, the politics of denial denies politics itself."
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