Saturday, April 12, 2008
The Truth Will Set Us... Upon Ourselves
[Another weekend political rant. Stay away. It's all downhill from here.]
How many people would agree that the Republicans have been brilliant at getting the average person to vote against his or her own interests? (Hint: I would.) Knowing that their actual agenda of giveaways to the wealthy wouldn't fly on its own, they've managed to get people to think that this country will live or die over gay marriage and gun laws. So along comes a politician who points this out, and it becomes 24-hour news, drowning out the fact that the president admits, finally, that he authorized torture; wiping off the public consciousness the deficits, the war, the health care problems. Barack Obama said something that takes more than two seconds to explain, and the media and his opposing politicians go crazy.
I'm not sure about John McCain, but I do think Hillary Clinton is smart enough to understand what he said. The talking heads on radio and TV? Part stupidity and part cynicism. But Hillary knows, and plows ahead anyway. And what was it that Senator Obama actually said?
Government has failed to deliver to the average person, he said. It makes people frustrated and angry. By exploiting those feelings, politicians manage to get people to look away from their leaders' failings or their plutocratic agenda and to vote for them anyway, by sleight of hand. When people feel bad about their situation, they tend to look for issues to make them feel better. Immigrations, guns, gays. Is this untrue?
Okay, I admit he said it awkwardly. He's admitted it, too. But his words were "elitist" or "out of touch" only to those who willfully or stupidly misconstrued them. In the case of Hillary and her supporters, it's willful. Nor did he make stuff up out of whole cloth, like, say, bullets in Bosnia. He made a sophisticated point about how people think and how the political system exploits it. If anything shows how much change is needed, it's his words and the bullshit-filled reactions to them.
The spectacle of CNN and its ilk making 24 hour shrieking punditry out if it, finding it more important than all the problems facing us, is dispiriting beyond my ability to tell it. Between the cynicism of our politicians and the mendacity of our media, the American political system has become incapable of self-correction. We have, ultimately, no one to blame but ourselves. We elect the idiots, we watch the networks. Comes a person who actually thinks it's possible to change how we do our national business, and he's set upon by those for whom the status quo is their life-blood, while the people who have most to gain or lose are too complacent, or too burnt out, or too disappointed to make the effort to push back. They buy the crap because they've stopped believing there's anything else. More's the pity. The audacity of hope meets the beat-down of burnout.