The Paris attack and the remarkable smallness of our politics

Events like the attacks in Paris should remind Americans of the stakes of the election next November. We are at a historical pinch point in which how we relate to the rest of the world is changing.  The open wound left by the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 — a tragic wake-up call to the new reality of America in the world — has been healed over in these past 14 years.  But, the ideology that caused the 9/11 attacks has only grown in the intervening years as this Paris attack — not to mention the attack in January against Charlie Hebdo and scores of others around the world — make clear.

And yet, the process we have built to elect the person who will lead our country amid this dangerous world tends to accentuate the smallness of our politics rather than the bigness of the job for which these men and women are running. Think back on the last week in our politics — from the Trump rant to a debate over whether our politicians would kill Baby Hitler to a disagreement over whether Jeb Bush dissed Marco Rubio at the debate on Tuesday night. Not exactly a high-minded conversation centered on the new geopolitical realities we as Americans face, right?

Of course, the media — and people like me in particular — bear some blame here. This blog covered each of the stories above. By contrast, we wrote nothing about, say, the various ways that the candidates for president would deal with the threat posed by ISIS.

But, the press, I believe, is a reflection of who we are more broadly; human nature tends to seize on somewhat-trivial things rather than always engaging the serious — and often depressing — conversations about the future of our country and our world.