THE WASTELAND OF AMERICAN POLITICS
The weary citizens of Ohio have been deluged for months by tens of millions of dollars in political campaign ads, just as New York and New Jersey have been hard hit by wind and water from Hurricane Sandy. Ohioans are jaded and have grown disenchanted hearing that Romney is a wealthy elitist and that Obama is spending America into oblivion. These simple, but negative messages have been carried on airwaves and emblazoned in print countless times, and nothing changes except their packaging. Each campaign adheres to its narrative as if it was a religious ritual and is trying to sell its candidate to a stupid public. Never mind that the minds of most voters are made up and that many of them are exhausted and miffed by the continuous stream of propaganda. An old trial lawyer once cautioned me that, if an advocate repeats the theme of his case ad nauseum, it won’t be long before the judge and jury regurgitate on his shoes and begin regretting that only one side can lose. There’s wisdom in this advice – do the candidates really want to anger voters?
The underlying problem is that the American citizenry has morphed into a mere electorate. Participation in the political process is now primarily about casting a vote or responding to a pollster’s narrowly restricted and often ambiguous questions. What’s exciting about that? Nothing. This is why approximately fifty percent of voters don’t show up for presidential elections; seventy-five to eighty percent of them don’t bother voting in statewide and local elections; and only about eleven percent of first-time voters are sufficiently interested to cast a ballot.
I suspect there is a direct correlation between the vacuity of American democracy and voters’ lack of interest in politics. Does any serious person think that either Mitt Romney or Barack Obama is running a campaign in which voters are allowed even so much as a glimpse into what will transpire if either is elected? Of course not. Only the most naïve and obtuse among us would bother looking for even a scintilla of truth in a political campaign. Hyperbole, flashy patriotic rhetoric, and carefully calculated appeals to God and to humanity are what the citizenry is served.
I’ve come to believe, cynically to be sure, that a politician is interested in creating a winning story-line and in telling people what they want to hear. Sometimes I wonder whether a political career was ever a noble calling and, if so, whether it will be so again. Just ask people in the “swing states” who have been inundated with the banalities and superficialities of presidential politics. It is all little more than empty spectacle, or mind-numbing theatre, as devoid of substance as the recent political debates starkly demonstrate.
What are the necessary components of a successful political career in 2012? I’ll take a stab at an answer. First, a national candidate must be well financed, meaning that he must be a celebrity or an independently wealthy person or both. Second, he must find (or create) a national platform for himself, cultivate an attractive persona and garner an enthusiastic following by pandering to special interests including the brain-dead media. Last but not least, success in politics involves learning the art of dissembling, which is to be utilized post-election when the individual is caught in lies, dereliction of duty, and cover-up. You can see that what happened before, during, and after the murders in Benghazi remains paramount in my mind.
Politicians themselves are really not all that important. They do the bidding of those who own them. Because elected representatives generally desire to perpetuate themselves in office, they need money, and plenty of it, to have staying power. Those from whom the money flows exercise the right of ownership. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. George Soros can communicate with Barack Obama at any moment of the night or day. I personally learned years ago, while working in the local Republican Party, that those who write big checks to support the party’s presidential candidate are deemed to have “excellent Republican credentials” although they are never otherwise seen by the public. One such gentleman, who gave money in hefty sums to his senator and the president, succeeded in buying access to them. I was told that he could actually telephone and speak with them any time. Money is magic, isn’t it?
I doubt that most of you enjoy such access. I don’t. But huge corporations do. When corporate CEOs find unions recalcitrant or need a steady stream of workers to whom they are not required to provide a pension, insurance, safe working conditions, or reasonable working hours, ringing up a senator or president and “conferring” with them on the “need” for relaxed immigration is productive, wouldn’t you say?
When a soldier’s boots touched the ground in Iraq or Afghanistan, what he or she immediately discovered was the huge number of civilian employees to whom the work of war had been outsourced. War, in case you don’t realize the fact, can be a lucrative business. Corporations have made millions of dollars from “permanent war.” Take a look at the torn faces and bodies of wounded warriors, and then look at the revenues of Halliburton, for example, and ask yourself “who has profited from America’s recent military engagements?”
We live in a corporate state, where political power, money, and big business are all aspects of one and the same reality. President Obama has worked closely with Jeffrey Immelt of General Electric (left), and has professed profound respect for Frederick Smith of FedEx (right). Study each of these corporate executives and decide whether you discern any virtue in them other than the talent of making a dollar. I cannot. Make no mistake about it, Mitt Romney is also a corporate titan. There's a question about whether the American people can depend upon a fox to guard the henhouse. I'm supporting Romney, but not without reservations.
Returning to the presenting question -- why is politics so superficial, insipid, and lacking in substance? Because that’s the way those who wield the real power in this country want it to be. A weak, servile, and dependent population, which is nourished by Hollywood filth, religious platitudes, and consumerism, has allowed corporations to run roughshod over America.
In this debilitating political climate, we have seen the enemy, and I’m sorry to say that it’s us. Isn’t it time for a genuine spiritual renaissance?
October 31, 2012