January 19, 2008

Political Olympic Games

Here we go again--just like the Olympic games every four years, Americans have their Presidential race every four years... and notice, it's called a race for good reasons. To the rest of the world, the US system of electing a president appears in that domain where curious encroaches bizarre, and complex blurs to incomprehensible. The very idea of a campaign that lasts for a whole year could only occur in America, land of unlimited money. No other country would countenance the enormous waste represented by having a dozen or so candidates stomping all over the nation for 12 months, repeating the same lies over and over, ad nauseum, before crowds large and insignificant. Probably not many Americans think a lot about their electoral system; just as not many of them turn out to vote. Come to think of it, there may be a connection here. In any case, there are a number of unfortunate consequences that arise from the convoluted process involved in finally arriving at the next president.

First of all, since the campaign is so excruciatingly drawn out, it requires vast amounts of money. After all, the candidates have to pay for salaries and travel expenses for a year for their team of handlers (a considerable retinue in today's political wars). They also have to pay enormous sums for those damnable mass-media advertisements that have to be so carefully crafted to present their 'star' as wonderful while all their opponents are total, evil morons... without actually saying it.

A year of 'stumping'--visiting all the electoral districts in all the states, shaking untold thousands of hands, kissing all those babies, making innumerable speeches, and enduring all the bad food and drink--is enough to break anyone down, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Yet every four years, enough Americans willing to subject themselves to this inhumane 'iron-man marathon' can be found that it becomes of game of weeding out the weak and the halt in order to leave two survivors to battle it out in the final round of actual casting of ballots. Lord! The reasoning seems to be that anyone who can survive the campaign must be capable of running the country... curious logic that seems lost on other civilized countries.

And then there's the odd phenomenon that in the bastion of 'democracy' it always boils down to just two opponents. It's either Tweedle-democrat or Tweedle-republican, who over the decades have been revealed as almost identical twins in terms of policy records. Where are the third-party candidates, the independents? Again, as a result of the marathon campaign process, few are the agents who can afford to join in the race. Any such candidate would need the backing of a very large organization that could supply the funds and the popular energy needed to play in these Olympian games. The USA simply has no tradition of more than two parties, who are supposedly at opposite poles of the political spectrum, but who are, in reality, just two faces on the same dark horse. It behooves the true but concealed puppet masters who really run America to offer only two choices to the stupefied citizens--the Hegelian choices of 'thesis' and 'antithesis.' Any more than two is considered confusing. This way, the voters think they are making a real choice; while those who don't vote have already concluded that there's no difference in any case, so why bother.

Finally, there's the media machine, the true king-makers of US politics. And they are the reason why we don't see third-party candidates--the media moguls don't like 'spoilers' butting in on the two-horse race, so they simply ignore them. If the public communications media do not report anything to do with independent candidates, then how can those interlopers ever get their message to the electorate? Unless they own a TV network, they might as well pack it in and stay home. The same pertains to the so-labelled 'fringe candidates' running in the race for the big-two parties--they just get ignored by the media, and eventually have no choice but to withdraw from the games. In these 2008 American Political Olympics, it is clear to onlookers that the media want to keep the public ignorant of the sole candidate in each party who promises any true repairs to the corrupt system of contemporary US politics.

As the marathon grinds on over the months, the signals get stronger and stronger as to which candidates are being anointed by the media manipulators. They pick their golden boy or (lately) girl, from each of the two political corporations, and present the great, American presidential race as 'A or B' to the bemused voters to select between. In fact, someone behind the scenes has already decided who is going to get the office, and now it's just a matter of cooking the books to ensure the result.

It's no mystery why the last two presidential elections were apparently so 'close' that the final outcome depended on just one or two states, and might have been swung by a legitimate recount. First, there's the fact that the two runners are really two sides of the same coin, so it's heads you, the voters, lose, and tails, the corporatocracy wins. Any statistician will tell you a coin toss has a 50% probability of either side coming up. Second, there's the unmistakable stench of vote-rigging in the election air; rigging that has become all the more convenient with the use of electronic voting machines in many polling stations. The machines have been demonstrated as vulnerable to hacking; they are supplied by corporations with known ties to the Repugnicans; and entry and exit polls have repeatedly shown discrepancies with the machine-tallied results. If those things happened in some 'underdeveloped' nation, the US government would be howling with righteous indignation about election fraud. But in the Incorporated States of America, it's just business as usual, and let the media deal with the allegations. And they have dealt with those criticisms byÉ simply ignoring them. After the cliff-hanger of 2004, the mainstream media reported virtually nothing about the evidence of vote-rigging that the Internet was absolutely abuzz with. And the public, already super-saturated with election non-news, just had no further interest in more bad news about their marvelous democratic system.

So, 2008 is an Olympic, 'oops, I mean election year in the Excited States of America, and the media have no worries about what to report for the next many months. For the audiences, it's a marathon for them, too. After all, listening to a seemingly endless barrage of hot-air rhetoric ("I'll get bin-Laden if I have to follow him to the ends of the Earth!"... ya, sure, senator) and constant carping at opponents' concocted gaffes, and escalating one-upmanship, can all wear you down, right? Seriously, it's a mental stress mechanism that seems deliberately designed as part of the overall conspiracy to 'break' both candidates and voters. By the time the election is held in November, everyone is in a 'dissociative state' of mind, having either congealed their opinions long ago in January, or else still hopelessly baffled at the shell-game that offers the same pea under each choice. In this state, everyone just wants to get it over with, get on with normal life. It's small wonder that the voting public has little interest or energy left to engage in second-guessing, judicial recounts, meticulous (but meaningless) analyses of voting patterns... or reflection that the whole exercise was an orchestrated illusion, in the style of a David Copperfield spectacle, with the object of 'democratically' installing the next front-man of the ultra-monied plutocracy. Better to just sit tight and wait for the inaugural revelry with its celebrity performances and empty speeches, to follow in the new year. To the rest of the world, the whole electoral cycle represents a demonstration that epitomizes America in all its crazy self-absorption.

In these quadrennial games, the last act of the outgoing president is to abuse his executive privilege by granting pardons to those fellow criminals whose misdeeds happened to be discovered during the preceding electoral term. How one man can grant absolution to someone for crimes that would land anyone else in prison is totally incomprehensible to the rest of the world. Nonetheless, ordinary citizens will be waiting with mixed emotions to see who will get the blessing in the remaining days of the current administration. More than that, it is positively baffling to external observers how this system--with it's consciously engineered structure of 'checks and balances'--could end up so visibly amenable to political blackmail and dirty tricks that a brazen gang such as the recent Bushmen could pass legislation that flies directly contrary to the letter, as well as the spirit, of the founding constitution. That document used to be upheld as a pinnacle of human political achievement... Now it's looking pretty sad after enduring eight years of constant battering by the White House. That it survives at all seems to be due to the rear-guard support of the Supreme Court; but let's not forget that those judges can be 'stacked,' over time, so don't get too relaxed.

Yes, this is the country that is so cock-sure of the righteousness of its fabled democratic system that it wants to politically evangelize the whole world with the gospel of American democracy. Obviously, the events since September 11, 2001, have revealed some glaring flaws in the veneer of the US political mechanisms, and have made the sales job of American marketers all the more difficult. People used to pray 'God bless America;' today it should be 'God help America!'

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