Tuesday, March 06, 2012

The Greatest Show on Earth

I feel better now. Now that I have finally come to the realization that our current political system is not meant to be serious and is, rather, just a grand show that continues on for a long time like any other soap opera. I have suspected this for quite some time but this Presidential election cycle has proven it conclusively.

No nation that is serious about electing leaders to lead their country would even dream of a system as completely ludicrous as ours. First, you need not have any particular qualifications to run for the most powerful position on earth, especially if you have or can raise obscene amounts of money. Second, the campaigns go on interminably, now starting about the same time the new President is sworn in and thus continuing for almost four years. Third, it is not necessary, and in fact is undesirable, to tell the truth about anything. Fourth, there are no restrictions on what candidates can say, no matter how blatantly false and absurd it may be. Fifth, it is important to avoid speaking about any genuinely important issues when concentrating on more trivial and titillating topics can be emphasized. Sixth, it is no longer necessary for a candidate to be serious about wanting to be elected to the Presidency, getting publicity and selling books will suffice. Seventh, candidates need no longer even be truly competitive as the media will make any candidate look competitive. Eighth, the candidates are selected in advance by those who have power, if not the precise candidate, the others will be weeded out by the media controlled by those who are making the selections. Ninth, like Valentine’s day, our elections are held primarily to make money for those who are in charge of conducting them, namely the media which reaps in billions of dollars on advertising. Finally, the outcome is, if not predetermined, controlled by those who, largely behind the scenes, have picked and shaped the show and will make the final decision. Like most everything else these days it is merely infotainment, but infotainment on a grand scale.

All of this has been played out during this current election. It began eons ago, it has featured those with either personal fortunes or wealthy backers to make their candidacy possible. It has continued on seemingly endlessly. One unqualified candidate (entertainer) after another has had their moment on the stage: Palin, Bachmann, Trump, Cain, Perry, Huntsman, Pawlenty, until only Gingrich, Santorum, and Paul survive to oppose Romney, none of whom will be able to get the nomination. Romney, who was picked to win in the first place, will no doubt win (unless he becomes so bad they shift to someone else), but only after spending multi-millions and wasting time in an attempt that was a foregone conclusion in the first place. Along the way they have all lied with regularity, often making claims that are not only false, but simply absurd. Romney, for example, announcing that if Obama is re-elected Iran will have a nuclear bomb, Santorum accusing Obama of helping Iran get a bomb, Gingrich claiming Obama is the most dangerous President in American history, and that he, Gingrich, will provide $2.50 gasoline, and other even more fabulous pronouncements and accusations. So obsessed with destroying Obama they don’t even bother to offer any positive solutions to any of the real problems facing the nation. Some of the candidates entered the race with no intention of winning, or even dreams of winning. Romney is the only candidate who is believed to have any chance of beating Obama, no one really wants him as a candidate, but once he emerges as the only obvious candidate the media and everyone who has spurned him, will make him into a giant of possibility and all of his shortcoming will be forgotten or distorted beyond belief. By the time this strange and esoteric contest is over the media will have made fortunes for their corporate owners, whoever is elected will have obligations to whatever powers made their success possible, and the whole thing will begin all over once again.

The sad fact is, the United States is just not serious about our election process. If we were there would be public funds for the candidates, private money, especially in huge and obscene amounts would not be permitted, the candidates would be selected on merit, the process would be played out in one or two months, it would be relatively inexpensive, only candidates with years of truly relevant experience would be allowed, and the media would perform the role it should as a fourth estate, making certain no candidate could get away with serial lying without being challenged. Every citizen would be obliged to vote, no exceptions. Lobbyists would be carefully controlled both in numbers and amounts of money or other inducements they could offer, officials found guilty of taking bribes and selling votes would be quickly and severely punished. The Republic envisioned by our Founding Fathers would work for the benefit of the people as it was intended to do.

I know this is all “pie in the sky” and has no chance of realization. So we will continue to muddle on with the single most dysfunction political system imaginable, continuing to fall behind others, and eventually self-destructing. Happily, those most responsible for our demise will not be able to take it with them.

Corporation, n. An ingenious device for obtaining individual profit without individual responsibility.
Ambrose Bierce

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