Politics As Usual
Posted by Alan Edwards
As the title indicates, this post is about politics. I am going to be mouthy and opinionated. I will probably use a few curse words (UPDATE: yeah, I sure did. A lot). I just wanted to get that warning out there. If bad language and one ignorant man’s opinions offend you, you don’t want to read this.
Election Season is here. It runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year usually (366 every four years). I believe it is possible, that at some point in the mythical past, Election Season ran somewhere close to actual elections, so every 2 years for a few months as the primaries and general elections ran. This is no longer the case, if it ever was – I think it did, but died with the advent of the cable news channels that have to figure out some way of filled every hour of the day with drivel that isn’t covered by Your Late Local News and the once-ubiquitous 6:30 national news. Now, everything everyone ever says, does, thinks, discharges, forgets, doesn’t say, sees, hears, etc etc, is repackaged as How This Will Affect The Election. Which election? Doesn’t matter.
My guess is an outside observer would assume that we are having a presidential election this year, what with all the How This Affects Obama’s Chances “news” that flies in a constant brain-damaging barrage (we aren’t, incidentally – Congressional stuff only). Ever since he was elected, it seems like every day there is a report of his chances for re-election. Even though the average American – myself included – seems to have the attention span of a fruitfly, we insist on projecting and debating and whining and hand-wringing over events that won’t take place for years. The chatter now is about how he might switch running mates. In two years. Someone really gives a shit about all of this right now? Seriously?
I detest our political system. Specifically, the two-party system has set up an Us Against Them mentality. Let’s see: if I agree with the Republicans about, say, state’s rights, I have to agree with every single random bullshit piece of idiocy that they endorse, like Teaching the Controversy. Same thing with the Democrats – if I agree with gay rights, then I have to agree to every wasteful stupid point they espouse. Why? Because every party primary comes down to which asshole can pander the most to the radical fringe of his party to make sure he gets the nomination to run. A Republican who is pro-choice is going to have one hell of a hard time getting nominated, just as a Democrat who is anti-abortion is going to have the same trouble. If these two hypothetical candidates really do believe this, they can’t say it. THEY AREN’T GOING TO SAY WHAT THEY BELIEVE BECAUSE IT MAY HURT THEIR CHANCES OF GETTING ELECTED. You know what? I think what they believe should be the ONLY thing that determines whether they get elected or not. Lying to everyone and posturing and doing the Talking Head Bullshit Cable News speechifying does nothing to further this country. Instead, it’s Hit The High Points Of What Our Party Believes And Blow This Joint.
My Republican speech: “Cut wasteful spending! Cut taxes! Support the military! Praise God! Family values!”
My Democrat speech: “Help the poor! Health care! Balance the budget! Melting Pot! Rights for all!”
They are all the same. Black vs. white, and Buddha help you if you mention that there is a possibility of a chance of perhaps a slight shade of grey in anything, because then It Is Over. Things aren’t allowed to be complex, because then it makes the Talking Heads’ jobs harder. Obama hasn’t fixed the Economy! No shit, asshole. He can’t. Neither could George Bush (take your pick), Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin, Randy of the Redwoods, Mighty Mouse, Thundarr the Barbarian, or Jack the Fucking Ripper. One person can’t do shit to change our economy. Why? BECAUSE IT’S AN INCREDIBLY COMPLEX MECHANISM THAT INVOLVES EVERY FUCKING INDIVIDUAL IN THE WORLD. The President doesn’t have a button that he can press to fix our economy. Neither does Congress. No one does. Not even Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, and those assholes are probably in the top three of powerful Americans (Warren Buffett is probably the other most powerful asshat, and I don’t read headlines about THEM not fixing the economy yet). BUT WE CAN’T SAY THAT. We can’t say these issues are complex, because that undermines each party’s ability to trumpet I AM RIGHT AND THEY ARE WRONG.
The Republicans miss the point, the Democrats miss the point, the cable news networks miss the fucking point. But guess what? They don’t care. THEY ARE GETTING PAID. People watch those bullshit networks all the time. Apparently there is a Constitutional fucking Amendment requiring them to be aired constantly in doctor’s offices and airports. These asshole politicians are getting elected, and if they lose, they go on the cable network that aligns with their party’s beliefs as the newest talking head. They succeed in life by simplifying complex issues into talking points and sound bites, damaging the ever-famous Average American’s ability to understand how complex these issues are.
Every successful politician that is out there has one job, no matter what he has been elected for: GET RE-ELECTED. That’s it. Their entire job revolves around making sure they keep it. Many of us have to do the same thing. However, for those of us with regular jobs, we have to actually perform the JOB WE WERE HIRED TO DO to keep it. Not so with politicians. Making difficult decisions that are weighed carefully and come down to what is the best choice for the Nation – you know, fuck that. I’ve got a lobby group that has a shit-ton of money that wants me to add 12 riders to this bill that will legally change the name of a potato side dish to Freedom Fries (really a fucking low point in this country that will probably not look all that bad after 20 more years of idiocy) outlawing products that directly compete with them. Is it in America’s interest? Well, not really… BUT! I am a great Senator or Representative or Whatever, and MY STATE NEEDS ME. Doing what gets me re-elected is going to help my state! THAT IS MY JOB, TO HELP THE GREAT PEOPLE OF WHEREVER BY STAYING IN MY JOB!
I wish I were joking. That is our political system now. Things that I obtain for my state or district or whatever is ME DOIN’ WHAT’S RIGHT FOR THE FOLKS WHAT ELECTED ME. Things others obtain for their states or districts fall into two categories: PROGRESS (when the state or district benefitted is run by my party) or WASTEFUL PORK BARREL SPENDING THAT WILL SEE YOU BURN IN THE DEEPEST CORNERS OF HELL, SODOMITE (take a guess). It isn’t about thought or deliberation. It’s about Party Whips telling people in their party how to vote. Toe the line, motherfucker, and we’ll help you get re-elected. Otherwise….
What would I like to see? Either no parties at all, or a minimum of 5 of them at relatively equal strengths. I’d like every candidate to fill out a detailed questionnaire that tells what they believe in, or how they would be likely to vote in certain situations. Pro-choice or not? Gay marriage or not? Drug legalization or not? State’s rights or Federal rights? Government oversight or not? Tell me what you believe, and let me decide who I tend to agree with the most. Then, should one of them vote against something they said they supported in the election, let them explain why. Perhaps they were persuaded to change their views (side note: THIS IS NORMAL HUMAN FUCKING BEHAVIOR. If what you believe right this second is what you are going to believe in fifty years, then you are a fucking drone and have no perspective at all. World is flat! Sun revolves around Earth! Dallas Cowboys are a great team! The ability to discover new ways of looking at the world is a fucking gift humans have. The reason I hated George W. so much was his smug attitude that he already knew everything, would never change his mind, and TOOK PRIDE IN IT. My, sir, your ignorance is determined!). Perhaps they decided that, while they may not personally agree with, say, war, that the bombing of an American fleet in an American harbor was so outrageous that it would allow no other reasonable response. Let them explain, and let’s listen to them and judge accordingly.
Also, while I’m at it, I’d get rid of lobbyists entirely. They are a huge part of the vulturous life cycle of our system. Fuck ’em. I’d also like eternal life, a magical pink unicorn that can teleport me to The Happy World of Rainbows, world peace, no-calorie delicious Krispy Kreme donuts, and whiter teeth. If I’m going to wish for the fucking imaginary, might as well go whole hog.
Oh, and just in case: If you think this outs me as a conservative, fuck you. If you think this outs me as a liberal, fuck you. If you must know, I tend to skew libertarian (not Libertarian the fucking political party), slightly right of center. I’d like the least amount of interference with my life from any government while paying a reasonable amount of tax to support the things the government will inevitably have to handle, like roads and defense and standard human decency like disaster relief. I think that Republicans, Democrats, Tea Partiers, PETA, and everyone else who insists that they know THE TRUTH are out of their fucking minds. So there you go.