Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The political carnival, clowns and all

The political process by which America selects its president resembles a carnival replete with illusions, freaky sideshows, and clowns. The last two times the carnival came around, we elected the clowns, and now, eight years later, we find that while clowns may be fun in a carnival, they aren’t much fun in the White House.

Because political campaigns are not about truth but rather about a winning strategy, it can be difficult to determine whether candidates are clowns or not. Typically, that strategy sacrifices honesty, integrity, and ethics, while embracing hypocrisy, mendacity, and calumny. With such tactics, the electorate is emotionally manipulated to form shallow concepts and simple images that favor one candidate while denigrating the other. The result is that candidates are disguised under cloaks of political propaganda, and the choice often feels like one between the lesser of two evils.
What a way to select the leader of the free world. Yet, carnival politics continue to be used, because they work. The re-election of George W. Bush is clear evidence of that.
The catchphrase of this year’s presidential race is “change”, and both Barrack Obama and John McCain are promising change. But, I’m not sure these two candidates can change their underwear let alone politics-as-usual in Washington. Both candidates have accepted contributions from suspect special interests, and both have compromised their positions so many times that it’s only a guess where they really stand on many of the issues.
Because each candidate wants to appeal to as many voters as possible, neither dares to be totally candid. Imagine a candidate with the integrity to say, “here is what I believe in, here is where I stand on the issues, and only when presented with solid new data will I reconsider my position. Vote for me if you are of a similar mind. If not, vote for someone else.” Now, that would be change.
Observing this year’s political carnivals, it seems that Obama is being presented as a savior who will wash away the grimy corruption and bumbling incompetence of the Bush years and restore the luster of America around the world. To hear his acolytes praising him, there is no miracle beyond Obama’s magic. One would expect that he could turn water into oil, create universal health care from two aspirins and a couple of band-aids, and, to secure the coveted Michigan vote, cause the Detroit Lions to win the Super Bowl. Now that would be a miracle. But, Barrack, remember, thou art mortal.
If the nation, disgusted with the counterfeit conservatism of Bush and his neocon theocrats, reactively swings to the left, and is ready to embrace European style socialism, then Obama appears to be the guy to lead the way. American self-reliance will then make its final capitulation to the nanny state with an entitlement program for everyone in a bureaucratic paradise—just get in line.
McCain, meanwhile, has gotten off his Straight Talk Express to become the artful codger co-opting Obama’s “change” mantra and making a razzle-dazzle selection for his running mate. Choosing Sarah Palin for VP has thrust a moose antler into the spokes of Obama’s chariot to the White House, and has magnetized all those disaffected evangelicals and arch-conservatives heretofore unattracted to McCain. Palin is McCain’s show-pony counteracting Obama’s celebrity. It’s all beginning to look more like an American Idol competition than a presidential election.
If McCain is promising change, Palin doesn’t look to keep that promise. Like George Bush, she has a medieval mentality that seeks to impose personal theology through public policy, and is so certain of her beliefs that she may be stubbornly incapable of logically reevaluating her positions—but not incapable of deceiving the voters.
McCain may be a maverick, but a maverick bull prone to charging in anger. The Republican National Carnival in Denver focused heavily on American militarism. Country first, means duty, honor—and war. Protecting America means duty, honor—and war. There were paeans to war heroes, proud announcements of sons and daughters going off to war in Iraq or Afghanistan, and repeated, graphic descriptions of McCain’s torture while a POW. If America wants a raging bull, horns lowered and ready to charge at any taunt, McCain may be the guy.
McCain has shown a propensity to assert his authoritarian notions of national duty over Constitutional rights. This is the man who testified against the New York Times over the Pentagon Papers and who said that he would rather have a “clean government” than a government where First Amendment Rights are respected. A strong military is important, and those who serve in battle deserve honor, but becoming Sparta or Rome while diminishing Constitutional rights is probably not the change America needs.
If Americans wants positive change in Washington, they will not get it from either the Republicans or the Democrats. I will vote in this election, but I will not help elect clowns.

1 comment:

Geoffrey J. Gowey said...

The problem with the modern political process is that, somehow, the majority of America is voting for one of two parties instead of looking at the alternatives. How did this become the dominant mindset of a society that supposedly stands for freedom? Suddenly we have "elected" to make ourselves slaves to a nightmarish political system thinking a dominant party will be best. Here's a thought: if we want a single party to control the country then lets switch to fascism or a dictatorship.

This whole two party popularity contest with one becoming the majority is rotten to the core. The only thing that comes from it is ramrodding of policies and a fixation on how to make the other side look bad. Nothing good can ever come from it regardless of which horse wins the race.

It's time for people to wake up and stop voting based on popularity and start voting based on real ideas. We, as a people, have become intellectually lazy and have sacrificed our freedom in the process by ignoring all the other choices available at the ballot box. Our government needs to be a diverse group of people for thoughts and ideas to be properly examined.

This can never happen under the current one party takes all mentality. This country needs third parties to be elected so that ideas can actually be debated instead of the show that currently goes on. Bills going through congress should be scrutinized by many people with many viewpoints to make sure that the impact that they have is what is really good for the people of this country. People need to take back their freedom and that starts at the ballot box.