Revisiting Hamlet

by Stephanie Kutner

As the GOP convention date draws ever nearer, I’d like to take a moment to revisit a play that speaks to the heart of what politics should and should not be. I’m speaking of course, about William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. In the play, the protagonist’s hamartia, or fatal flaw, is his indecisiveness. It is this fatal flaw, which leads to his and other key players’ ultimate demises. If I had to pick one word to sum up the rancorous GOP presidential race, it would be “indecision.”  Indecision about who, out of a cast of men and so very far removed from the pulse of this country, should win the nomination and become Obama’s chief rival. Indecision, about which stances to adopt in which places, which topics to highlight, which demographic to pander to and most importantly which sides to stand on- in relation to political parties. Please mark the complete absence of right and wrong being factored in as criteria at all.

Hamlet is such a lasting piece of literature, in part because of the perpetual themes Shakespeare  anchored in. Themes such as “What governs those who govern us?” and poison (poured in the ear of a sleeping king to dispatch him), once introduced into a society, percolates through all levels of it; poison corrupts the entire body. So what does govern those seeking the position of America’s highest authority? Greed and religion have been the two indelible traits for any GOP front runner to possess. Greed. The kind of greed which made Gingrich leave wives at the peak of their illnesses. Greed, the kind that caused Romney to make a ten thousand dollar bet in the midst of a debate during what most would consider a second depression. Greed, the kind that compelled Santorum to tell his followers that “Obama is a snob,” (merely for the President’s statement that he wanted everyone to have at least one year of college or trade school) conveniently leaving out the fact that he holds a Master’s Degree.

Religious fervor is the other main trait needed for a future “leader” to have exhibited in this race. But we are speaking not of the classical ethical codes which most, religious or not, would agree upon; including “Love thy neighbor as thyself,” “You shall not steal,” and “You should not bear false witness,”. The devastation wrought on the American populace by laws and earmarks passed by GOP consent is grand larceny in my book. The political mudslinging and skewed facts flying non-stop between candidates since the get go, illustrates either a supreme ignorance or a willful disregard for the laws set forth by the candidates’ religions on their parts.

In the midst of an economic depression and several wars, the GOP has found it somehow more urgent to make a woman’s right to contraception, each others’ official tax statements, and affordable health insurance for all and the President’s educational ‘snobbery’ THE supreme issues to debate. I don’t know about you, but how can a person realistically believe that he can govern a nation, when he can’t seem to govern himself in accordance with the greater good of the people? The antidote to these poisons can only be truth, and we, the people, must demand it.

We don’t truly live in a democratic society in a time when corporations are ruled as equivalent to people. We live in an economic plutocracy, a government by the wealthiest, for the wealthiest. The root of democracy comes from the Greek ‘demos’ meaning ‘people’. In my lifetime, it is my solemn wish that this core, this root, won’t be erased from the vernacular entirely. A corollary of this wish is for corruption to be weeded out; for the Hamlets in power to make finite decisions for the good of the people and for the Gertrudes and Claudiuses to be ousted from power, to be tossed over Jefferson’s wall of separation alongside their women’s health policies, their earmarks, their Super-PACs and the caricatures of people they have had to become in order to gain their conservative constituents’ support.