Many players in our public life manage to turn their craving for attention into politics and vice versa. We can neither mock nor criticize them without running the danger of being sucked into their game.
When we mention them by name, we keep them on the surface of publicity, even when we know that they would never be mentioned for doing anything positive for the nation. Their sole “charisma” is that they reflect some of the darkest parts of the national psyche.
But there comes a time when we have no choice but to deal with those who undermine public life, draining it of gravitas, because, like bacteria in a pond, they push out other forms of life.
Donald Trump is a symptom of this disease and, because of his position, no one has the luxury of being able to ignore his behavior and statements.
The whole world needs to know the extent of his incompetence and the dangers that this presents.
In our politics, too, we have no shortage of colorful characters, even if their influence is negligible compared to the US president’s.
When a minister whose portfolio demands seriousnessand responsibility indulges in teenage outbursts and hooliganish activism, his unsuitability is clear.
Also clear is the immaturity of those who vote for him and the weakening of our survival instinct.
In politics today, with news media and social networks reproducing everything instantly, we have been taught to appreciate a politician’s passion above all else.
Because of our own need to back the right horse, we believe that this passion equals honesty and sincerity. Because we think that we are honest and sincere, we forget that, unlike us, a good politician must possess not only passion but also judgment and responsibility.
The German thinker Max Weber noted this a century ago. And we know what followed in his country and much of the world.
That is why, however repulsive it is to record the extremist behavior of some politicians and players in public life, however much we do not want to acknowledge our society’s defeat by mentioning their names, we must know that when our protagonists seem ridiculous and deranged this does not make them less dangerous.
Playing with the poisons of populism and verbal violence can lead not only to getting used to the poison, perhaps even to craving it, but to death as well.