Clinton, Trump debate whether nuclear poses greatest threat to mankind
In this highly contentious presidential campaign season, amidst countless personal attacks, the two major candidates have found common ground – at least rhetorically – in the threat posed by worldwide nuclear arsenals. They seem to agree, but are they right?
The greatest danger with nuclear weapons, as mentioned in last night’s debate – is that they “fall into the hands” of people who would use them. States are deterred from using them, because of the “mutually assured destruction” theory. The contrast, then, is between a sudden catastrophic event with an unknown – albeit relatively low – probability (terrorist-launched nuclear weapon) and a gradual series of catastrophes with 100 percent probability, unless remedial action is taken (global warming).
Here’s where the American people run the risk of being distracted away from an existential threat to the species in favor of a more dramatic, explosive (literally) danger. First, there’s the deep yearning in our country for reassurance that anything bad is the fault of foreign forces at work. Never can they be consequences of our own actions. We imagine nuclear materials being stolen from another nation, but there’s no denying that the United States is the biggest carbon polluter in the world.
The biggest threat to our national security is neither nuclear stockpiles nor global warming, but the denial abiding in, and the proneness to distraction of, the American people. A different way of looking at this is suggested by the ease with which we’ve accepted the growing confluence of news and entertainment. (Indeed, with the popularity of Donald Trump, we’re even starting to accept the mixing of democracy itself with entertainment.) No civics or social psychology expert has ever said that it’s okay to mix entertainment into everything.
I believe it’s dangerous to confuse our television stars for people who can hold public office. We have an excellent system of checks and balances in our three branches of government. However, hardly anyone denies that the president of the United States has significant power within the Oval Office. To elect a person to that office because of entertainment value or out of vengeance against the current president is irresponsible and courts disaster.
Though the cameras and bright lights focus on nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terrorists, it’s much more likely that – in the short term – thousands of people will die due to droughts, floods, and other global warming-related disasters. Entertainment has its place and so does education. Education should continue for life. We would do well in America to value education much more and to value entertainment a little less. Always must we keep the boob-tube separate from the voting booth.
My upcoming novel, ULTIMATE ERROR, is about our daily plight in avoiding the mistake to end all mistakes. Could electing the wrong person to the presidency in our nation be that ERROR. Germany’s grievous mistake almost wiped that nation and half of Europe off the map in the 1930s and 1940s…