I propose that the United States move its presidential Election to Halloween, or vice-versa. While Halloween has been neutered and fails to scare anyone, the presidential election is truly frightening, and spares virtually nobody. Plus, the metaphor of people parading around in costume asking for your hard earned candy is what the presidential election is all about. Barack Obama with his champion of the liberal left costume! Whoa! That is scary! Mittens Zomney with his Janus-like shape-shifter costume! Yikes!
OK, poor attempt at humor *over*.
I have been, am now, and it appears am doomed to always be, the kind of person who has a deep distrust of virtually anyone who runs for public office. A life-long independent who has consistently voted for the least-worst option regardless of party. To be sure, that brand of political nihilism has many upsides. It makes the bar for acceptability fairly low. At one time it created a kind of “catbird’s seat” from which to observe the battlefield. (I was a registered Independent, but registered Democrat to vote against Joe Lieberman in the Great Senate Swindle of 2006) Rule Of Thumb: The higher the public office, the greater the level of distrust. I put lot less weight on the decisions of my State Representative than I do a Senator. I can be swayed into a position of relative neutrality if a politician has a verifiable track record that indicates that they have some kind of redeeming facet to their political career. I still know that they will commit ten shitty acts for every one act with any actual benefit to society. But it also means that I acknowledged that politicians are in the politics business to *stay* in the politics business. Fear of actual, tangible change is akin to the Prime Directive. More accurately: Talk Change, Act Status Quo, Survive to Equivocate Another Day. I don’t see that mantra going away, but it has become overlain by a far more disturbing dynamic, and this is where I am stone-cold serious.
What I see when I look at the current state of political discourse in the United States is: Northern Ireland, Israel-Palestine, the Balkans… Religious War.
The way politics is being waged in America is divisive at a level that is impossible on a factual basis. It feeds on the kind of “they don’t love their children like we do” memes that drive the most divisive and hate-filled societal fractures the world has ever seen. Zero common ground. Massive reliance on propaganda and personality-cult leadership. Overt racial hatred. Overt religious hatred. THE WORKS… And that instills greater fear in my heart than anything I have faced in my lifetime.
I guess I am a “lefty” because I blame Karl Rove. I was comfortable being a moderate, an independent, and making decisions on facts over party lever. That fell aprt during and after the 2000 presidential election. Just like the OJ Simpson case changed the face of television news forever, the stamp of Karl Rove’s scorched earth politics changed the face of American politics, perhaps irrevocably. It has poisoned the well of American humanity.
I consistently rail against the 51/49 approach to politics, the purge of the centrists, the scorn against the “middle”, in no small part because it forced me out of the middle and into taking sides in the fucked up culture war. Rovian Calculus resulted in events like the meeting of Republican “Leadership” to undermine the agenda of President Obama on the night of his Inauguration. This is one of the least American acts in the history of the Nation. In spirit, it rises to the level of Sedition. In execution, it rises to the level of Crimes Against the Republic. Holding a nation hostage for four years in order to bring the nation to heel under extremist ideology is decidedly unAmerican.
All that means to me is that while I acknowledge the shortcoming of our current President, and have no problems finding both fault and room for improvement, I can’t remain objective when a Romney victory would reward the “take our toys and go home” actions of his party. I certainly don’t expect this kind of thing to start any conversations. I refuse to let it start arguments. I fear it has, and will continue to cost me friendships I hold dear.
As a last thought: Who would step into this gridlocked political fray, exert any pressure on the political machines running the world’s sole super-duper power, and make a credible case for “detente”? If American politicians won’t consider the American public beyond their role as vectors for their personal brand of PsyOps, and they won’t consider each other with civility, that leaves any change in direction to external forces. I have no interest in being dependent on external forces in deciding the future of America. How about it?