Copyright © by Len Holman, 2/12/12
The passions running so high during this election cycle are not touching me. I am not as invested in whether Newt or Mitt (just first names? Are they supermodels?) or whoever, gets the Republican nomination, as I was in the Super Bowl. If I see another morning show from a noisy diner on CNN, I’m going to puke. If I hear another candidate say he’s THE ONE (social conservative, fiscal conservative, defender of the faith, believer in American values, and all-around God-Approved candidate), I’ll scream. It’s not that the Republican catfight for nominee isn’t entertaining, but so is watching one of those videos on Youtube where some guy on a skateboard tries to jump a Trailways bus and crashes, while you can hear his buddies in the background laughing hysterically. Turns out the guy is all right and we go to the next extreme video. You wince and yell out, “Oh, my God!”
If this election cycle is what democracy has come to mean, then I say the hell with it. I guess I’m suffering from that syndrome well known to confused Progressives and reluctant Independents: Chronic, Repetitive, Anti-democratic Posturing (CRAP). The Los Angeles Times has called the Republican primaries and caucuses a “mud fight.” But an actual mud fight would be more interesting. I would certainly go across the street to see, if only briefly, Gingrich, Santorum, Paul, and Romney in a real mud fight. I would not go across the street to hear them lie, pander, posture and demonize. If I wanted to see and hear all that, I’d go to a local school board meeting to hear the administrative staff of the district tell the taxpayers why they had to fire half the teachers but keep all the principals. This CRAP syndrome seems to be trickling down to the Independent voters—the ones who, say the experts, will decide the election (I thought it was Latinos or women or someone—I guess it depends on which panel of experts you’re listening to).
Speaking of experts, it seems that—excluding Fox, which makes no pretense of balance—you wouldn’t want to run off to Vegas and bet on who these people have been picked to win the next primary, who have been anointed by these experts as the “real” frontrunner. There is usually a liberal, a conservative, and maybe a celebrity or a comic or maybe that guy who brings the eggs to the table. There is Soledad O’Brien—giggling and just having a wonderful time interrupting everyone before they finish—which is probably just as well, since we already know what each one is going to say anyway. It’s not Walter Cronkite or Huntley and Brinkley—or even Connie Chung. It’s empty, frivolous Nothing. It’s Madonna doing the Super Bowl, creaking out “dance steps” from a decade ago and lip synching songs from about the same time period. It’s colored smoke, whirling fireworks, and not much else. Commentary by the chattering class and the candidates themselves matches the season. The candidates tell us that the other guy is a jerk, a criminal, a serial philanderer, a rapacious businessman, a Washington insider, a Washington outsider, a loony coot who wants us to pull back to the beaches of Florida and let the world go by. The candidates’ websites aren’t much help. They are trying to sell a car which has been driven off Santa Monica pier and left to rust, but is now being touted as a Porsche. At least when you try a burger you saw advertised on TV, and it tasts like sawdust and is half the size it looked to be on your screen, you can exercise your option as a consumer and say, “I’ll never buy THAT again!” Once the Republicans get their guy, they’re stuck with him. And if he’s elected President, then his agenda really becomes known, but by then it’s too late for everyone who wants America to be a decent country again but his family and donors.
It’s incredible to see this non-informative pageant taking place in the midst of Jobsland, the most technologically sophisticated country in the world, where information is more plentiful than gnats on a summer’s eve, where everyone has at least one smart phone and even the E-trade baby has a tablet—and we STILL don’t really know where a candidate stands on important issues, and how a particular candidate’s position on a particular issue impacts the rest of the society. Would somebody please push Ron Paul into detailing how, in a global and interconnected world, we could just sit on our hands and do nothing but watch? Could someone please ask Rick Santorum what he meant by “emotional issues” concerning women’s burgeoning role in the military, as if female cops and firefighters and EMTs don’t encounter the same issues? Would he eliminate women in these areas? It’s pointless to ask Romney or Gingrich anything. Romney is firmly planted on both sides of every issue, and Gingrich’s disdain for those who are not him is manifest and his answers to any question aggrandize him to the detriment of the questioner.
And besides, who really cares? Do you or I have several million dollars to buy TV time to say one thing to southerners and another to westerners or Latinos or women? Super PACs are supposed to be Democracy in Action, given the Citizens United case, in which the Supreme Court (I STILL don’t get Marbury v. Madison and the judicial review thing…is this even constitutional?) said that money is speech. If money is speech, then we should stop fooling around with following the yellow brick road and go right to the man behind the curtain: have the government portion out each citizen’s vote according to how much money he or she has. If a person lives in a box which used to house a Kenmore refrigerator—no vote. If a potential voter has a house for every toe, lots of votes. That way, we at least don’t have to pretend our form of government is representative of anyone but the uninformed, the wealthy and the Supreme Court. It’s a game which is not fun to play anymore. As I said, I have that CRAP syndrome, and I know I’m not the only one. And here’s the scary part: it’s only February!
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