Kris: “My God, Murphy! Have you heard the latest outrage?!?”
Murphy: “No. Should I have?”
Kris: “Dammit, Murphy, how can you possibly not be paying attention! Every time – every time – 45 opens his phone, never mind his mouth, he makes Americans look like a pack of fools!”
Murphy: “On behalf of the rest of the Western Hemisphere, I’ll thank you to leave the rest of its two continents out of this. The United States is not ‘America’. No matter what its citizenry thinks.”
Kris: “OK, fine. He’s making the USA look like a pack of fools!”
Murphy: “… look like …? Yes, Kris, I have been paying attention.
“I’ve been paying attention to how our entire political process has turned into a circus sideshow, a high-dive act with the politicians about to drop 60 feet into a sponge for the entertainment of the crowd. With half of that crowd screaming for the politicians to kill themselves and the other half screaming for them to squeeze the sponge dry and walk on the water. And all of them squashing the three people in the audience who are the only ones with the sense to scream Get off the platform, you idiots!
“I’ve been paying attention to how often we elect politicians, spend the entirety of their terms bitching and moaning about how stupid they are, and then vote them back in at the next election!
“I’ve been paying attention to how often we’ve elected bona fide entertainers to high office, with no other qualifications except that they were entertainers. Reagan? Schwarzenegger? Trump?!? To our apparent next crop of candidates. Dwayne Johnson? Kid Rock?!? And, to how often we have not elected persons who actually have the skills and expertise for the job of governance.
“I’ve been paying attention to how everybody’s screaming about how sick and evil the Donald is, and Hilary, and Bernie, and Obama, and Pence, and McCain, and Stein, and yadayadayadayada. And nobody’s complaining about the low unemployment rate, about the soaring stock market, about buying and selling like everything’s just fine and dandy!
“Do you remember Zaphod Beeblebrox?”
Kris: “… whut?”
Murphy: “I see you haven’t been paying attention.”
Kris: “I’m sorry, Professor. Will any of this be on the test?”
Kris: “Well, we both know lectures are for sleeping through, right? … Wasn’t Beeblebrox in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy or something?”
Murphy: “He was. President of the Galaxy, no less. A flamboyant, obnoxious, self-centered character who was put in office to grab everybody’s attention and distract them from what was really going on!”
Kris: “And that’s with two heads. You can’t convince me that Trump has one! Certainly, not one that works.”
Murphy: “Thank you, Kris, you make my case for me.”
Kris: “A head case?”
Murphy: “Ha ha. While you and, it seems, everyone else, is watching the Trump sideshow, who’s really calling the shots? For whom are we really voting?”
Kris: “For the people and organizations from which we buy stuff.”
Murphy: “Precisely. And who are they? Amazon. Google. Microsoft. Apple. Disney. Disney, for God’s sake. People will trade food and shelter for Disney tickets! My wife just got a call from a friend in Hawai‘i. You know, tropical island paradise? You won’t believe what her friend told her.”
Kris: “Try me.”
Murphy: “The friend overheard a tourist yakking on her cell. ‘Hawai‘i is the most boring place in the world! There’s nothing to do here! No shopping malls, no boutiques, no shows! All there is to do is lie on the beach all day long! It’s terrible!‘”
Kris: “You sure she wasn’t in my senior seminar last spring? Could have been any one of a dozen of ’em.”
Murphy: “Trump supporters?”
Kris: “Nobody supporters. ‘The politicians are all cheats and thieves, they don’t do anything for me, away with them all.'”
Murphy: “Precisely the thing I’m on about. If the people of this country come to believe that all of government is a freakshow, not worthy of attention except as a perverse form of entertainment, then doesn’t that government cease to mean anything?”
Kris: “Yeah. It still means a tax burden.”
Murphy: “Which people no longer wish to support, because they don’t get anything out of it. Far as they’re concerned, the taxes go to anyone but themselves. And they won’t support them. What will they support?”
Kris: “The people and institutions that give them what they want. Jobs. Services.”
Murphy: “Their employers, and the communities built around them. The big corporations, with their CEOs as lords and ladies, and their serfs … sorry, employees, exchanging their freedoms for protection from raiders sent from the neighboring castle.”
Kris: “Is this where you tell me that resistance is feudal?”
Murphy: “I don’t have to now, do I?”