Wednesday, November 3, 2010

American Democracy - A Rotten Idea!

The phone’s ringing off the hook, but no one I know has called me today. I think I must have received a robocall from every candidate for political office in the mid-Hudson Valley area — and her brother. Mostly, I just hang up immediately. A couple of times, though, I’ve listened while a grave-voiced announcer asks something like, “Did you know that [such-and-such a candidate] is in favor of free Cialis for child molesters, and sacrifices parochial school virgins to Satan in months that have a 6th?” Elsewhere, we’re told that this candidate, or that one, favors not only eradicating Social Security, but pushing all our seniors into a mass grave and then burying them alive — after…harvesting their corneas and removing all their gold and silver dental fillings. It seems to me that had it been made in 2010, Lee Atwater’s famous Willie Horton TV ad for George H. W. Bush — the one implying that Michael Dukakis was an habitual early releaser from prison of aboriginal-looking black rapists — would hardly have stood out enough to be noticed.

Are we, as a people, really this stupid? Do surveys demonstrate that the sort of mindlessness that spirals completely out of control in the October of every election year is really what voters respond to? In New York, Andrew Cuomo is expected to be elected governor because the Republican candidate, endorsed by the Tea Party, is a brutish, homophobic numbskull who circulates videos of women getting intimately acquainted with horses — but maybe in spite of the Republican candidate being a brutish, homophobic numbskull who circulates videos of women getting intimately acquainted with horses. The Facebook ads I keep seeing say that Cuomo perceives Albany, the state capital, as woefully corrupt, but has A Plan to Clean It Up. Which I guess is to say that he won’t be making a succession of compromises and unsavory deals, as every politician must, in the interests of pleasing those primarily responsible for funding his campaign, and likely to contribute significantly to his re-election campaign in a few years.

Does anyone really believe this stuff? If so, do you not share my great discomfort at the thought of their being allowed to operate automobiles, much less heavy machinery?

A couple of years ago, Elliot Spitzer had to resign New York’s governorship after it was discovered that he enjoyed the company of call girls. Every time I see him on TV, I’m struck by what a shame this was, as I agree with a great many of his positions. God forbid, though, that an American politician should have foibles.

I feel sure I accurately remember attorney general Janet Reno admitting having screwed the pooch in a big way late in the Clinton presidency; it might have been to do with the Branch Davidians or something, but that isn’t the important part. What is important was that polls suggested that a hefty majority of the American public actually admired her for being candid. I’m forever wondering why more politicians don’t come out from behind the crapola mists. Imagine Spitzer having said, “Yeah, after [however many] years of marriage, I do indeed enjoy sneaking off with a 24-year-old hottie whenever my schedule permits. So yes, I’m an asshole in that way, but what you should care about a lot more is that I’m an effective politician who will, if you’ll all just take a chill pill, accomplish important stuff for the state.” Is it not safe to imagine that a great many voters would have joined me in backing him?

I don’t care if the guy who services my brakes has sex with prostitutes, so long as he ensures that my car stops when I need it to do so. Why should I care in the slightest if a politician patronizes call girls, if he, for instance, fights effectively against corporate greed and malfeasance, say? Is Barack Obama now droppin’ his g’s and takin’ great care to refer in every other sentence to “folks” because his advisors tell him that Americans want him to sound as stupid as they themselves are? How does it make sense that we wouldn’t want someone far better educated and erudite than ourselves making the most important decisions?

Living in America makes me increasingly uncomfortable with the idea of democracy.

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