The schizoid nature of contemporary political salesmanship reflects the fact that red blooded Americans today approach the solemn obligation of citizenship like callow lovers wanting their lotharios to construct a better lie about their infidelity. This conspiratorial delusion, the subconscious thought runs, may save us from discovering we were never going to have what it took to hang out with these celebrity slicks in the first place. Imagining ourselves jilted by a hustler is of course preferable to confronting the fantasy we desperately convinced ourselves made for a beautiful partnership. Street kids fantacize about being pimps; we swim in the yacht's wake on the off chance some money will float our way.
Watching what one can stomach of the stagey debates on television, for instance, you may be reminded that no one ever went broke underestimating the public’s intelligence, and the participants, chattering magpies all, at least deserve points for knowing their roles: to mouth platitudes that comfort and distract.
The self-satisfied American public, after a cleansing and fuzzy gripe session with other uninvolved citizens in the neighborhood and the office about the mendacity of the empty shirts on stage will also share, quite without apparent irony or guilt, that really little of it matters to them "as long as they don’t take nothing of mine.” Implicitly, whatever happens to fellow Americans not only doesn't concern them, by default it offhandedly acuses those "others" as deserving of the screw job anyway. The surreal debate in America these days is really about who deserves to be free. Witness the most insistent flag wavers shredding Habeas Corpus, rights of privacy and speech and voting itself as a hedge against unsuitable outcomes now tragicomically categorized as terrorist-worthy risks. So some are rooting for the powerful in the roadshow to do the dirty and start cracking down in our name, you know, like those really effective dictators elsewhere upon whose soil we stage our holy wars. Such insensitive and impractical narrowness hardly conforms to the American ethos, of course, to say nothing of the suspicious claims to a Christian mantle of piety the same people assume. But dog eat dog baby: the guy who dies with the most toys wins, right? And so political debates become yet another crass pseudo-reality show to cynically snipe between car and jewelry ads. Sure, the words are empty; but what weight do yours hold if you aren't doing the heavy lifitng on the street by raising a stink?
A nation of know-nothings who make a virtue of ignorance and associate the capitulation with patriotism don't challenge a politician to do much else except moralize, after all. The house controls the odds and the suckers need only think they're winning when they leave the premises. By extension, running for office hardly seems to require much attention, either, as we have witnessed with the daily faux pas and sloppy outright lies. We are the actual moral curiosity in this penny dreadful, not those in high places whose hijacking of the government and the courts is the more audacious these days because so few even trouble themselves to challenge their theft. Plainly, a whole mandarin class of professional politician - indistinguishable from the same corporate schnooks occupying the inner sanctum - has built a base of middle class fans who seem not to connect their lost earning power to what and whom they support, even as they cheer the very rogues who refuse to loan back the booty the shills handed over - out of some childish faith-based trust in trickle downs and conscientious pillagers.
Which is to say that all the ostensibly noble complaining heard everywhere in the land is a form of theater on our parts, too. Methinks thou protest too much. After all, these game show hosts and raving lunatics are only the outgrowth and manifestation of our collapsing and misalligned will, offensive as that thought may be. As any number of the self-proclaimed business-forward wimps demonstrated in accumulating their wealth, one need only sell images and symbols that hint at the quality they are no longer inclined to provide. The hysterical sheep who one assumes imagine this is real, like one of those delightfully colorful violent world wrestling contests, don't seem to care that America manufactures wars and images; and last time I looked, the Pentagon and Hollywood were in no more danger of running out of customers than prisons would be. The Soviets were massacred by Stahlin; the Jews and gypsies by Hitler. That's how a healthy attachment to liberty develops. You have to lose to cherish what you have. We Americans, on the other hand, cry foul if they won’t let us water on even numbered days or make us recycle. It’s a free country after all. What do they want from us, the damned oppressors!?
Come on, get some perspective. This isn’t Armageddon, it’s Phineas and Ferb.
Be forgiving. Wouldn’t you exploit people like us if you had the chance? If all we do is stay out of their business except to whine after they line their pockets, or blind us by waving their flag pins as they offend our sense of propriety with poor performance art on the debate circuit, what’s the downside? That they must claim to have a moral certitude that seems slightly overstated to us in retrospect? Act tough when they offer up your child for slaughter to feed their masters, who create war to keep the spigots running?
As long as I get mine, why would I care?