“Shut Up, Hamlet, and Drive”: Appeal for an Essential Art

Carla Seaquist
17 min readOct 27, 2020

I.

Remember this moment, my fellow Americans. Remember this dire moment, fraught as any we have known in our lifetime, when, nearing the 2020 presidential election, we want — no, we yearn with all our hearts for — the exact opposite qualities of those possessed by the current occupant of the White House, Donald J. Trump.

Remember this profound yearning of (we hope) a big majority of the American people for the higher, essential qualities — character, honesty, responsibility, courage, decency, dignity, intelligence, empathy, prudence, moral purpose. And remember the things we profoundly yearn for, achieved only with these qualities: the essential things that once were capitalized — Truth, Justice, Honor, Trust, Reputation, the Soul.

Consider America’s ruination, the falling-off, our nadir as a democracy. Astonishingly, in just four years, Trump has reduced the world’s sole superpower to a near-failed state now scorned, dismissed, even pitied. How did he do this? By acting out the musclebound brat, compelled by nothing more than egoistic want and whim. By heedlessly disrupting a rules-based international order. By his catastrophic handling of the coronavirus pandemic, scorning science and reason, going with his gut, even when he himself was stricken. By his rushed reopening of the economy, more concerned with market performance than the death and suffering he has inflicted on the American people. By refusing to say he will abide by the election’s results, threatening violence to keep his power.

Again, in this dire moment, remember our yearning — for the essential qualities, essential things.

II.

In truth, however — and here is the disconnect: We have not expressed much need for these essential qualities or things for a long, long time. Instead of essential need, we have merely wanted. And we wanted the near and immediate: to scratch the itch of ego, to rebel without a cause against any rules, to go with the visceral and fie on the intellect, to amass the market’s wealth and fie on humanity. In other words, our wants have produced the President we now abhor: Donald Trump is as much a product of our (degraded) culture as our politics. Add to that, we wanted to “walk on the wild side,” whether it was the…

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Carla Seaquist

Our times examined via politics, culture, morality. Author, "Can America Save Itself from Decline?" (Vol. II). Playwright. Fmr. HuffPost. www.carlaseaquist.com.