Thursday, January 21, 2010

Pitchforks For Sale

My dear friend Suldog recently posted his astute analysis of the Massachusetts Senatorial election, in which Republican Scott Brown defeated Democrat Martha Coakley. Perhaps you might read that first. Then, read this analysis, where I will argue that this election does not matter in the slightest. - Porcupine.

Politics is the entertainment branch of industry.
Frank Zappa

It will be all over the news soon: a stunning upset, a victory for the right-wing, a repudiation of Obama's "socialist" policies. The Democrats have lost their supermajority. The seat held for so long by uber-liberal Edward "Ted" Kennedy has gone to a Republican, the first Republican senator from the People's Republic of Massachusetts since 1958. Dittoheads of the world, rejoice!

I could just as easily turn this around. All is lost. The Republicans will block any legislation that could help real people. Health Care Reform will die. There is no more hope for change. No, we can't. We're doomed. I could turn it around but I won't. There are plenty of others to do that and at more length.

Myself, I inhabit a sort of political limbo. Liberals think I'm conservative and conservatives think I'm liberal. Some of my philosophy is socialist, some libertarian, most of it is Catholic. There isn't one word to describe it and no party truly represents me. Over the years, I've found I'm certainly not alone in this. Liberal or conservative is too limiting. How you would perceive me depends on both who you are and what issue is up for discussion.

Actually, I think people like me are the true silent majority. The folks who are frothing at the mouth, be they bleeding-hearts or right-wingnuts, are rather few. It just doesn't seem that way. People like me don't make the news. That's too complicated... we need sound bites. Yes, we can! Question 2? Bad for you! Never mind what question 2 is, it's just "bad for you", got it? Good.

Here's the nutshell version of why none of this matters. If in fact we ever did, we no longer live in a democratic republic. We live in a plutocracy. We do not have two parties, we have one party with two faces. Democrat vs. Republican, liberal vs. conservative, right vs. left: it is all an elaborate play staged to hide the real force behind the scenes, money.

Obama is a socialist ?!? Please. I don't see how anyone can take this seriously. His administration is crawling with people from Goldman Sachs and The Fed. Right. What a bunch of commie-pinkos they are. By the way, do you know how The Fed describes itself? As a "quasi-public institution". Translation: we are a privately owned, for-profit bank, masquerading as an arm of the government for the sole benefit of the super-rich, foreign and domestic. Think I'm kidding? Look into it and see.

Both sides of the aisle are bought and paid for by the same interests: banks, insurance companies, pharmaceuticals and the rest. The media are all owned by the big corporations too. What more do you need to know? Both parties feed at the same trough. The media report what the corporations want them to report. Elections are held to maintain the illusion that you have a choice. You don't.

Of course, there are real issues, but under this system, it's important not to resolve them. That way, the politicians have something to talk about come election time. Health care, abortion, Iraq, and the rest: the idea seems to be to keep the ball in play. The right says this. The left says that. Back and forth we go. Liberal, conservative, Republican, Democrat, right, left.

Here's a question that never seems to come up: instead of right and left, what about right and wrong? Fair and balanced? Who needs it? Life is not fair or balanced. In many cases, there is a discoverable truth, if we look for it. But we don't take that approach anymore.

We don't need fair and balanced. We need true or false.

To paraphrase the great G.K. Chesterton, here's the main problem: there is no agreement on what our society should look like. My idea of heaven could well be your idea of hell. Medical diagnosis is possible only because we have some idea of what constitutes health. As Chesterton said: the hospital may, of necessity, send a man home with one leg less. It never, in a creative rapture, sends him home with one leg extra. I'd say most of our "reforms" seem to fall into this latter category.

This is the question we need to ponder. What would our ideal society look like? We need to answer this before we can go any further. As I see it, the two greatest obstacles to real debate and change are these: corporate personhood and privately funded elections. As long as a corporation is afforded the rights of a person, it will always be able to win out over the flesh-and-blood kind. Until ordinary people can afford to run for office, we will always be governed by the rich. I see no way around this.

Until then, money rules the day. Now, who has a good pitchfork for sale?

Very Truly Yours,




Char said...

Brilliantly stated! And, unfortunately true.

Ananda girl said...

Excellent post! Its an illusion, our political system. By the way I love the Frank Zappa quote.

Land of shimp said...

Hello, hello. I was just going on, at some length over at Suldog's, and I won't be tedious and repeat my points here. They weren't exactly of a riveting nature to start with, and repetition will not make them so.

All that to say, "Hear, hear!" we've gotten confused about what a political affiliation actual means. It isn't supposed to also encompass a personal relationship with God, or feelings about family, or anything beyond, "What are the issues? What is the best for the continued maintenance of our society?"

There's a long, long debate to be had about the impact of Marco vs. Micro thinking and where we have erred, and are erring.

I leave that to others, and for my part say that I walk, talk, and live what appears Liberal, but you won't catch me ever saying I'm a Democrat, or a Republican, or an ________. Vote issues, questions, and policies, not party lines.

As for what happened in MA, the loss of the super-majority hardly matters, as not even one thing was getting done with it. Attaching far too much importance to this election in MA was not merely dramatic hyperbole, it was exhausting to witness. "This will decide what happens in 2012!" Oh...bull. Just...bull.

That's part of what went on, too much manure mongering went on it this, and a lot of people in MA responded by ...not responding definitively.

Suldog said...

As always, for two guys with some vastly differing views, we share more common ground than not.

As you avered, American politics isn't much more than a game, a passionless passion play enacted at regular intervals for the sake of conning the people into thinking there's more substance available than there is. A Libertarian friend of mine once compared it to professional wrestling. Sooner or later, the bad guys become the good guys, and vice-versa, and most of the audience doesn't have a long enough attention span to be able to recall the former allegiances and come to the realization that they're being had over and over.

All of the above is why your choice of intoxicant is usually more important than who you vote for.

lime said...

you have summed up my position perfectly. i have refused to declare a party for most of my life. and like you i irritate both my conservative and my liberal friends but also find points of agreement with them. when they get really frothy i generally tell them, "jesus pissed off the cons and libs of his day. i'm just following his example." the parties are all about maintaining a grasp on money and power, not about solving any problems.

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