P.T. Barnum would be proud of today’s golden age of suckerism

As you know by now, I make my living writing the news.

I have been at this job since 1993 in various places throughout the state. Things have changed a lot for us ink-stained persons over the years. It has certainly gotten much harder to pry information from the clenched hands of government sources.

But overall, despite the recent sharp increase in rancor out there toward practitioners of the profession, it has been a fulfilling career. I have met a lot of great people doing this, including my colleagues here at the Reporter newspapers.

Yet, even I have to add my barbaric yawp to the chorus of complaints about the news, particularly the strain that finds it too damned depressing. It can be. Just trying to follow the day’s events reminds me of what Solomon had to say in the book of Ecclesiastes nearly 3,000 years ago:

“The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing. What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which one can say, ‘Look! This is something new?’”

Indeed, we still look out and see power-hungry tyrants launching wars and spreading misery. We still look out and see too many people with larceny in their hearts like New York Representative George Santos, who should never have been elevated to positions of power and responsibility.

Still, with all due respect to Solomon the Wise, I wonder if in the last 20-30 years, I have actually spotted something new under the sun, or have misread an existing phenomenon.

My alarm concerns those people with heads of cement who can look at the clear blue sky everyone else sees and not only deny its existence, but also get combative enough about it to punch you in the nose.

Gullibles who too often fall under the spell of elected officials whose livelihood and tenure in power are utterly dependent on feeding their constituents truckloads of B.S.

Suckees and suckers.

Here’s my question. When showman P.T. Barnum said more than a century ago, “There’s a sucker born every minute,” was he heralding a golden age of suckerism? Or was he merely drawing attention to one of Joyce’s “grave and constants” among the afflictions that beset the human race?

I’ve often thought of breaking out my calculator and running the birth rates to determine what percentage of the total population in the United States would be suckers if Barnum were right. I know there are at least enough of them to cheer on the fools in Congress who have determined to pursue the politics of revenge.

In my opinion, lust for revenge makes for a miserable, petty, low-as-a-snake’s-belly model of governance. It may satisfy grievance-nursing people, people who need the energy of victimhood to pulse through their veins — though I doubt they would ever be sated.

The one thing it absolutely will not do is help the nation as a whole, at a time when we are sinking under the combined weight of problems crying out for attention.

What we need are statesmen and stateswomen who can rise above the petty desires to give their opponents swirlies.

Robert Whale can be reached at rwhale@soundpublishing.com.