Archive for September 15, 2008

A Vote Of No Confidence

Posted: September 15, 2008 in Politics

As I watched the conventions of the Democratic and Republican parties unfold, I was reminded once again of just how similarly America’s two top parties operate. Sure, on the surface they present ideological dissimilitude, but deep down it’s just the same show; different day. The same pandering, the same grand proclaimations of reform (now even McCain is dropping the ‘C’ word, change), the same dog-and-pony show filled with lights, multi-million dollar productions, and heavy make-up, the same grandstanding by glad-handing politicians, and regrettably, the same sycophantic dorkery from manic delegates in the audience.

2008 has certainly been an exciting year for politics, but as I watched televised coverage of the conventions, the events more closely resembled a Spice Girls concert rather than a sobering rally for change. It was painful to sit through the drawn-out speeches that were punctuated with endless disruptive standing ovations by the over-eager onlookers. I must admit that the points of the speeches were almost lost to me and the whole mess was reduced to a glorified pep rally for politicogeeks (Illinois State Fighting Donkeys RULE!!). But when the stadium lights have faded, the IMAX rental video screens returned, and the rabid delegates go back to the woodwork from whence they emerged, what does all of the grandstanding mean for us?

It is relatively easy to get a crowd fired up, if you know how to work them if your speech-writers and focus groups have done their jobs. Modern politics have become such a science that pending outcomes and results have been relegated to mere formality and predictable projections. This paradigm relies more on the tried-and-true tested methods of public relations than good old fashioned pavement-pounding aggrandizement. There’s nothing new at work here. Remember the multi-million dollar set piece of the aircraft carrier, the U.S.S. Lincoln, that George W. Bush used as the backdrop for his pre-maturely proclaimed “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED” gaffe? It is widely known now, that this was a PR campaign used to bolster support for the war. All that is needed is a theme song, some flashy lights, a backdrop of perceived accomplices, and the appearance of success, and the public is easily duped. “It’s a pageant,” as Robert DeNiro’s spin doctor Conrad Brean deftly describes the false set of circumstances that he perpetrates on the public in the political satire, Wag The Dog. It’s all theater. It’s all a show. It’s all a cleverly crafted campaign to win the hearts and minds of American perception.

So why is this particular voting cycle so important? If you are a Democrat, Moderate, Libertarian, or even a good ‘ol fashioned Lincoln Republican, my guess is that you are fed up with the massive failures of the Bush administration. These failures are pretty widespread and sweeping such as, fiscal irresponsibility, lack of accountability, unsurpassed executive power, unprecedented deficits, and a rather blowhard approach to foreign policy, among other things. If, on the other hand, you are a Republican (especially a Reagan Republican), corporate oil tycoon, Neo-Con, or eschatalogical fanatic, my guess is that your stake in this election is to continue to hold on to the fat of the land which you have hoarded for the last eight years or more, “stay the course” with the Bush policies to really give them the time they deserve to flower (is 100 years long enough?), further entrench religion with politics (after all, G.O.P. stands for God’s Official Party), and perhaps delay the much needed paradigm shift from fossil fuels to renewable energies. One only needed to hear the sycophantic mantra, “Drill Baby Drill!” from the Republican audience during their convention to sink home the truly lack of progressiveness needed in today’s ruling party.

Whatever the case, whatever one’s political persuasions might be, whoever gets the job will be inheriting one hell of a mess. America is in what is arguably one of its most pivotal moments. We are at the tipping point. Not only has a bellicose and reckless Republican administration taken us down a spiral of economic and political decline, but so has the newly elected Democratic majority-led House and Senate, who are complicit by not fulfilling the mandate of the voting public.

An interesting aspect of this election is to see how the next president would potentially continue the Bush administration’s precedent of unbridled Executive power in a post-Bush White House. Is it conceivable that the next president would relenquish such power? Would Barack, bolstered by a Democratic House and Senate be any less of a tyranny than what we have seen in the last eight years?

Now that the conventions are over, the final campaigns are in full swing, and so are the attack ads and the political cheapshots have begun with relentless predictability. If I were forced to vote today, I would put in a vote of “No Confidence” in our system. Neither of the parties, from what I have observed, seem to have any real progressive solutions for our society and the world. In today’s arena of “political kabuki,” as Noam Chomsky puts it, how refreshing it would have been to see the two major candidates shock the world (and the delegates) by coming together to run on a bi-partisan ticket. Both McCain and Obama already have the support of their respective parties, both are the media darlings of the election, and they both have about an equal proportion of followers. What if they worked toward uniting our country instead of dividing us? Now that would have been progressive.