Politics And Press: The Presidential Sweepstakes

Posted October 18, 2012 on 12:02 am | In the category Election, Obama, Romney, Uncategorized | by Jeff
  • To vote for a Democrat means, now, to vote for the party’s influential members—for unions (including public unions of teachers, firemen, and policemen), for black and Latino minorities, for independent women….To vote for a Republican means, now, to vote for a plutocracy that depends for its support on anti-government forces like the tea party, Southern racists, religious fanatics, and war investors in the military-industrial complex. The independents, too ignorant or inexperienced …are the people most susceptible to lying flattery. They are called the good folk too inner-directed to follow a party line or run with the herd. They are like the idealistic imperialists “with clean hands” in Graham Greene’s The Quiet American—they should wear leper bells to warn people of their vicinity—Gary Wills, New York Review of Books

We have been subjected to a political campaign for the presidency that began nearly four years ago, moved into high gear over a year ago, presented a cast of shockingly bizarre Republican characters, and finally settled into a two man race that the American press has managed to define as a horse race to be covered as a sporting event of style over substance.

No day goes by without one or more new polls that tell us who is viewed most favorably among any number of subgroups: women voters, unmarried men, gays and lesbians, hispanics, white males, retirees, firemen, catholics, protestants, etc. etc. Candidates then try to tailor their heartfelt views to the identified interests of enough of the various subgroups to build a winning majority.. And by tailor, I mean, cut to size, redesign, change the entire look and feel – as various focus groups indicate. Mitt Romney’s constant and dramatic changes of expressed beliefs and values are an extreme example but Obama’s caution is also illustrative.

The press serves as the testing ground for policy changes by simply reporting them and then collecting data on whether the changes are liked or disliked by a largely unaware public. The press does this partially by collecting opinions from man-and/or-woman in the street interviews – a technique whose cost is only dwarfed by its innate absurdity. Of particular interest are those who after years of political jockeying have not quite been able to make up their mind. I mean, what does it take to get someone to decide? the world is not changing that fast, the candidates are only pretending to change, and yet these proud independents – unable to commit to any political belief or philosophy – wait for the magic moment – the epiphany – when they can decide between candidates representing radically different value systems and turn the election in whatever direction enters their sweet little heads.

Finally, to help them decide, the press provides analysts – almost always one from each side to discuss the issues in serious and quasi intellectual terms, but each reading from his or her internal Power Point presentation provided by their candidates. PBS’s Newshour has become especially proficient at this, cowering in its insecurities while it gives favor to each side hoping against hope that it will not be caught actually taking the side of rational thought, thereby perhaps risking its federal funding. The fact that they have become irrelevant, boring, tedious even – no longer matters. There is really no competition out there unless one turns to Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, who in their own wacky way, move toward the truth. Colbert would say to independents, “flip a damned coin and get over it.”



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  1. “Being in politics is like being a football coach. You have to be smart enough to understand the game, and dumb enough to think it’s important”. Eugene McCarthy.

    Why do we place so much faith in politicians? Why do we freely relinquish power and control to them? The answer is simple; because we want to believe in them and their sincerity. But, is sincerity a guarantee for truth? I say no! Sincerity is a like a sheep in wolf’s clothing, on the the outside it looks to be peaceful and demure, but on the inside it is violent and aggressive. Anyone can be sincere,but not everyone can be truthful. Career politicians are masters of the art of sincerity, which most people mistake for truth. Why? Most people want to believe in something greater than themselves and think that just because there is a new face on the “throne” that “things” will change. Yes, change does occur,but gradually over generations, not in one administration and not always for the better. History has taught us this. Look to Rome. Once a powerful respected republic the envy of the know world, then later an empire, that was not longer admired,but only feared. Did barbarians destroy Rome? Physically yes, but Rome was destroyed many years before by its own citizens, when they allowed powerful people to take over the government. Thus allowing their true motivations to be revealed.

    Has the USA become a modern Rome? Not an easy question to answer. Let us look to History for another example that may help answer said question. We all know the US civil war’s genesis was complex. One of the paramount reasons for the Southern States seceding from the Union, was that the politicians (ergo the citizens) of The South, felt that the Federal Government wielded too much power in terms of dictating how and when The South should conducted its business. As you may remember, the Founding Fathers of the USA were trying to avoid this exact thing. They had seen what absolute power looked like (in the form of a British Monarch),and they wanted no part of it.

    Today the US federal government wields vast amounts of power which overshadows that of the individuals sates’. Did the Founding Father fail? No, we as a nation have failed. Today there are two political parties to choose from (which is really no choice at all). Any vote for a different party is usually wasted. Democrats and Republicans vie for position on the podium, ranting and raving about how vile the other one is. Yet, they are really two sides of the same coin. Politicians will promise you the moon if you let them, but once they are in power, those promises are largely forgotten. Don’t worry in four years we as American citizens can always vote for someone else and cross our fingers (in vain) that something will actually change.

    Comment by preacherbbb — November 2, 2012 #

  2. Say this is getting interesting. The preacher and Jeff enter the ring full of energy and guff, and after a few rounds you might expect them to retire to opposite corners and get towelled down before returning to action. But actually in many ways they have come to similar conclusions, as have the Mackenzie Brothers in the next posting. There is something rotten in the state of US politics – more than a whiff of phoniness and less than a drink of pure water – and it would be nice to imagine that someone will come out of the shadows and clear out the crud from the Aegean stables, if it is still possible

    Comment by Mackenzie Brothers — December 5, 2012 #

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