Every once in a while you get an article that exposes the corruption of the American political process in harsh light. This one from the New York Times is the latest to disgust me.
What strikes me about this article is not the particulars so much as the assumptions that underlie them. It is completely accepted by the writer/editor team – it isn't even questioned – that the purpose of campaigning is to win at all costs by removing all substance from the discourse and creating a misleading image of the opponent. Of course George Bush was right to paint John Kerry as a weak flip-flopper and lie about his record. What's disturbing to the political establishment is not how poorly that strategy serves the body politic and the citizens of this nation. It's that John McCain hasn't found a way to copy Bush's strategic model.
It makes me want to puke.
I wish I could say it's just the Republicans doing it, but the Democrats are almost as bad in their intent, even as they are far less effective at it. (I suspect that's because the Democrats have multiple constituencies – labor, environmentalists, feminists, and multinational corporations, whereas the GOP is a wholly owned subsidiary of multinational corporations and so can focus on dirty tricks easier. Besides, the GOP gets lots of practice by their habit of scapegoating relatively powerless constituencies in order to pay lip service to the peculiar issues of their evangelical base and to divide and conquer the masses.) This political process of image over substance is pervasive throughout the system, and it's the perfect philosophical base for propaganda machines such as Faux (Fox) News.
Every two years the pundits and politicians fall all over themselves to castigate the public for its reluctance to vote, and to wonder why so many people seem uninterested in politics. Perhaps it's because an awful lot of people see through all the crap they toss into the ring.
Happy birthday, America.
I know that for me, I would like to see our political discourse shift into a genuine debate over the problems our nation faces, why we have them, and what is the best way to deal with them. I don't see that happening in our current two-party, winner takes all system. Perhaps we could attain it through some system such as Instant Runoff Voting (IRV), but so long as the plutocrats, fascists, and robber barons own all of the Mainstream Media (MSM) and GOP and half of the Democratic Party, we'll have the same system we have now.