The 2016 presidential campaign confirms what Marx wrote: “all the events and personalities of great importance in world history occur, as it were, twice… the first time as tragedy, the second as farce.” Karl, not Groucho, Marx.
We enter the realm of farce. It’s the economy, Stupid!
We are experiencing a reprise of the political paralysis of the 1970s, stagnation replacing stagflation. Jimmy Carter tackled the malaise in widely noted speech on July 15, 1979. This was later derided as his great MEOW (“Moral Equivalent Of War”):
The threat is nearly invisible in ordinary ways. It is a crisis of confidence. It is a crisis that strikes at the very heart and soul and spirit of our national will. We can see this crisis in the growing doubt about the meaning of our own lives and in the loss of a unity of purpose for our nation.
The erosion of our confidence in the future is threatening to destroy the social and the political fabric of America.
The confidence that we have always had as a people is not simply some romantic dream or a proverb in a dusty book that we read just on the Fourth of July.
The symptoms of this crisis of the American spirit are all around us. For the first time in the history of our country a majority of our people believe that the next five years will be worse than the past five years. Two-thirds of our people do not even vote. The productivity of American workers is actually dropping, and the willingness of Americans to save for the future has fallen below that of all other people in the Western world.
As you know, there is a growing disrespect for government and for churches and for schools, the news media, and other institutions. This is not a message of happiness or reassurance, but it is the truth and it is a warning.
Carter then discredited himself with a series of utterly feckless measures. None worked.
The farce is not funny. It’s cringeworthy how the national elites can be so oblivious to the obvious. The political and economic elites are just not grasping that economic stagnation, painfully obvious to the voters, is at the root of our political woes.
Ralph Benko, internationally published weekly columnist, co-author of The 21st Century Gold Standard, lead co-editor of the Gerald Malsbary translation from Latin to English of Copernicus’s Essay on Money, is American Principles Project’s Senior Advisor, Economics.