So, the great circus we call American politics heads to its big day on Tuesday. I won't say "finale" because there is a good chance the final result won't be known for a few days after election day. Let's hope we don't get into that again. However this ends up, I have to say I will just be glad its over. I do think the result will matter. Elections do have consequences. But I'll be glad its over because at the very least we won't have to watch the two guys running for the White House make stuff up anymore. Sure, we'll go back to watching elected politicans make stuff up, but as they've proven in the most recent past, making stuff up instead of making laws is what they do best.
When the election is done, we'll be left with a shambles. Our political landscape already looks like parts of the East Coast that were ravaged by the Frankenstorm. I hope that we've reached the bottom of the big hole we've been throwing ourselves into since the early days of Lee Atwater and Newt Gingrich. Leaders who will desecrate that which they want to achieve in order to achieve it aren't leaders. They are scoundrels and opportunistic parasites in my book and deserve scorn.
Lee Atwater acknowledged this before his death. Something tells me Gingrich never will. But this isn't just a Republican thing, both sides are guilty of the destruction. We're reached a point where nothing that is said by anyone is true. Lying wins these days, because, well, facts are what we say they are, depending on who we are and who the other side is. Reporting on that has lost all meaning. When facts shift like sands under the beating surf, there's no way the house stands on its foundation. Strict adherence to anything that our side espouses has become as rigid as a blood oath, even when we have to disavow things that we formerly believed in and know are right. Truth has always been a casualty in politics. That's not news. But we've reached the point where we are aborting truth in the womb before it even has a chance to become a casualty on the battlefield. As long as we win I guess it is all OK. Everywhere you turn, on the boob tube, to Twitter, to the papers, everyone wants to be some sort of combination of Matt Drudge, Ann Coulter, Chris Matthews, or Ed Schultz. You really couldn't make this stuff up if you tried. But then that's why fiction writers at least give their characters some sort of spine.
What gets me about this game is that it is being played by what I have always assumed are intelligent people. I have now officially begun to doubt that, as the players and their proponents but carnival barkers to shame. Whether it is my assumptions that are off, or we've finally reached a point where the only folks we can attract into politics are those with egos that outweigh their intelligence I don't know. Regardless, as a student of history, I find it a sad state of affairs.
Yes, I will be voting on Tuesday. Yes, I will be voting for Barack Obama. But here's something that will probably piss off or astound some of my liberal friends and a few of my conservative ones.
Going into this election cycle, (I'm talking 2010 here) I was prepared to listen to the Republican side of things. The reason? We'll simply put, I didn't think Obama was up to the task in a world where his opponents were hell bent on destroying him rather than actually doing what we pay them for when we elect them. Unfortunately for him (and us) he got boxed in by the Republicans in a game that he couldn't win. Sadly, I don't think anyone could have done any better. Tragically, I'm sorry it happened that way. Because no president in the future will ever have the opportunity to lead again. We've allowed so called statesmen to destroy that.
But the reason I was going to give the Republicans a fair shot was pragmatic. The business I run has been struggling since the market collapse. It was obvious to me that the Republicans didn't care if they burnt down the country, they weren't going to allow Obama to accomplish anything remotely positive when it came to the economy. In my pragmatic mode of thinking, I may not agree with much of what the Republicans stand for, but at least we'd get out of this game of chicken we'd been playing with our the economy. Sure, we'd be playing a different game, but maybe, just maybe, things would improve a little.
But something happened along the way. The Republicans, in a year when they should be walking away with this election, fielded the most inept group of cartoons for candidates that could possibly be imagined. I may be doing a disservice to cartoons everywhere by calling them that, but so be it. Think back a minute to the Republican primaries. Serous adults allowed that mockery of this nation's political process to actually occur. Serious adults actually pretended to give credence to the likes of Michele Bachmann, Donald Trump, Rick Perry, and God help us, Newt Gingrich. The only candidate who actually sounded like he believed in anything was Rick Santorum. Unfortunately, even the rightest of the right wing wouldn't go there with him. And the best the Republicans could come up with was Mitt Romney.
In the last two presidential election cycles the Republicans have put forth nominees that prove, more than anything they do, that the only reason they care about winning the White House has to be because they believe it doesn't matter. But then George W. Bush proved that it both doesn't matter and yet matters so, so much. What did I say about elections having consequences? The ones that do for the Republicans are in State houses and the US House of Representatives. I honestly believe that the selection of Romney means that they don't want the White House. It is tougher to govern than it is to be the opposition.
You know, Romney might actually be a smart businessman, and he might actually be a decent man. Unfortunately, we'll never know, because win or lose, we've never had the opportunity to find out. And if there is any shame left in the man, someday in the future, I hope he reveals it. If nothing else to cleanse his own soul. If he wins, he's going to have a hard time, because while he may be rich and own a bunch of stuff, there is nothing he owns when it comes to a set of values anymore. If he loses, he'll go down in history as something of a joke. He won't even get the benefit of hanging around the way Sarah Palin did. When a modern day candidate and his campaign thinks they can get away without providing some serious sounding answers to questions, then how could they possibly expect my vote or yours. Note, I didn't say serious real answers. Just serious sounding ones. I know how the game is played.
So, my pragmatism has kicked in again. Actually it kicked in once Romney chased the other cartoons off the stage.
You see, even in my state of despairing disenchantment, I actually believe in our political process. At least the way it used to be. Campaigns revealed character. Campaigns revealed how we think. They still do that last part in a twisted way. They reveal that we don't think much anymore, we just align. As a matter of fact, they reveal how little thinking actually goes on about anything important. A big part of what I believe in is that we need two strong parties to compete so that ideas do get bounced around and debated by elected officials. If there is any strength in either party it is in the ability to con money out of those who think it matters. The Democrats have been wholly unserious for so long that the only thing that keeps them hanging around is the Republicans have been so transparently stupid every chance they've had to make some progress.
So, we're left with the clowns owning the center ring, and I'm afraid when all is said and done, we're going to be left with more of the same no matter who wins this time around. Once you've trashed the joint where you party, someone has to clean up the mess. Our problem is we're still so much into the trashing mode that we don't notice that the joint is coming down on our heads.