State of the Union and Hunter Thompson’s Disease

I watched the State of the Union speech and some of the coverage surrounding it tonight.  My mind kept ping ponging back and forth between taking it seriously and feeling that it was all some large piece of absurd theater.   I watched it on the ABC live stream.  That was probably my first mistake as that put me in a dark mood as the talking heads there pumped out gibberish of the highest order.  A couple of semi intelligent Americans picked at random could have provided better insight into the speech.  They spoke in large swaths of meaningless language, clearly trying to hide the fact that they didn’t know any more than the viewers did.  That was just before the speech.  After the speech they provided all important facts like how many times people applauded and laughed.  During the speech they had some kind of side scroll that highlighted what the president was talking about and what he would be talking about as if we couldn’t hear him.  It was like some kind of bizarre game show.  There is a reason that Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert never run out of material when it comes to the news media. 

Ok, I could easily drift off into a small book of things that drive me nuts about such events.  In any State of the Union Speech by any president there is always going to be a certain amount of clichéd passages that are meant to reassure the hoopleheads in the crowd: God bless America, children are our future, etc.  Obama also glided over several things that would have been sticky had they been dealt with in any truthful way: Our current drone policy being number one.  He said that he was going to reform it, but that in no way acknowledges what evil has been done in our names because of the current policy, and exactly how it he was going to reform it. 

Maybe it was reading about Pete Seeger earlier, but tonight I don’t want to just spread negativity throughout the land.  I was extremely happy that he made such a strong stand that climate change is a settled fact.  I mean that should be obvious to most people at this point, but there has been such a large disinformation campaign that I was glad he said what he did.  I was also happy to hear the President say that this country needed to stop being involved in continuous warfare.  That is easier said than done, and it remains to be seen what he is going to do about that, but again it is important that he acknowledged the fact that we have been.  I am glad that he is willing to use executive order to raise the minimum wage.  I have lived on ten dollars an hour and it is hard to survive, I can’t imagine trying to live in this country making less than that.  The current economic inequality is one of this countries biggest shames.  It’s easy to see it as a smart political move, but I was happy to hear him come out strongly in favor of women getting equal pay for equal work.  How a society treats their women is a sign of how good of a society it is.  Those were just a couple of the highpoints in the speech for me. 

Even though I can often be completely cynical about our politics at times I still often have what Kurt Vonnegut called Hunter Thompson’s disease.  That is that, “All those who feel Americans can be as easily led to beauty as to ugliness, to truth as to public relations, to joy as to bitterness, be said to be suffering from Hunter Thompson’s disease.”  I still have hope for the future of this country as much as certain signs point towards our decline.  If I criticize it often it is only because I still have hope that it can get better. When hope is gone I will simply cease to write anything at all.  

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