My mind is preoccupied with the misery of the USA Presidential Election which close to half of its population did not bother to vote, leaving the minority of Republicans to snatch away the election from an opportunity to give victory for the first time to a woman. As neither candidate had any great popularity with the public, breaking the “glass ceiling” would have been at least been a great moment in history.
Instead the art of rhetoric became the real winner of the election.
The Oxford Dictionary’s first definition of the word is:
“The art of effective or persuasive speaking or writing, especially the exploitation of figures of speech and other compositional techniques”
Then came the 1.1 “Language designed to have a persuasive or impressive effect, but which is often regarded as lacking in sincerity or meaningful content”
I would like to offer my version, a 1.2 if you will;
“The art of bold faced lying to anyone who will listen without shame or moral conscious.”
At 91, I seem to remember that lying was one of the most heinous acts anyone could commit. Honesty was part of who you were as a person and in my case, driven onto me from childhood onward.
We always knew that politicians would speak in “half truths” or be “misinformed at the time” or even “to the best of my recollection…” but now the veiled attempt at being honest has completely gone out the window. Society has not only given it’s blessing, but welcomed the ‘rhetoric/lie’ with open arms. We have shared it across the internet, embellished it, rationalized it, justified it, become violent defending it, but won’t call it what it is, lies.
To make the rhetoric/lie even more palatable we have created the “Fact-Check” where anyone can go and check the validity of any statement. The problem with this is, the gullible already believe the lie and won’t bother checking and for those that do look find the Fact-check to be littered with the words true, false or “partially factual” and “Acceptable if you consider…” which just comes down to rationalizing the rhetoric/lie.
So now you have Donald Trump, a business man, billionaire, who masterfully, without shame, used the art of rhetoric to win the U.S. presidential election. Is no one offended? I do not speak of whether you are a Democrat or Republican, man or woman, race or religion, but to you as a human being, do you not remember what it felt like being lied to?
Accepting rhetoric without moral outrage has opened the doors to a decline of ourselves as a society. Remember the phrase, “The end justifies the means”? That is precisely what we have done. We have made the lie an acceptable part of our culture because we became obsessed with our own agenda. We forgot to look out for each other. We accepted disrespect toward women. We blamed an entire religion and a culture because the rhetoric said so.
The damage is done and I wonder how long it will take to recover. For the moment those immortal words on the American Constitution are more a source of embarrassed uneasiness rather than that of an inspiration, “We the people…”