Sunday, September 2, 2012

A Gathering Storm

It's Labor Day 2012 weekend, and tomorrow marks the traditional start of the presidential election campaign.  There are 65 days till the election, and it's safe to say that all forms of media, especially television, will be flooded with diatribes from both sides, vilifying and demonizing the other, in their insane quest to pick up as many votes as possible, by any means.

This year, it's going to be different.  We have something called the Citizens' United ruling in place.  In a moment of stunning, breathtaking insanity, the Supreme Court decided that it's perfectly all right to inject a monstrously huge amount of money into an election system already choked and corrupted beyond recognition by dirty money.  In a move that seems incredibly un-American, extremely wealthy individuals can pour money into what are called "super PACs", completely anonymously and shielded from discovery and in effect, buy the American democracy.  Democracy, like justice, has always been available for purchase by the highest bidder, but this ruling makes it much, much easier for the election to be swayed by whichever side can line up more billionaire donors.  If this doesn't go against everything on which this nation was founded, taking elections away from the common people and giving them over to the super-rich, nothing does.

Another stunning development is the diabolical, blatantly biased laws passed by state governments restricting and complicating the act of voting.  Everything from selectively shortening early voting periods to ridiculous, unreasonable photo-ID requirements, and more, has been utilized by Republican-controlled state legislatures to make it more difficult for the poor and minority voters (whose choices skew very much toward Democratic candidates).  Advocates of these Jim Crow 2.0 laws claim they are necessary to prevent "voter fraud," but it is a scorched-earth, Draconian solution to a very small problem.  Studies have repeatedly shown over and over that voter fraud is an extremely rare occurrence, several orders of magnitude smaller than what would be needed to swing any important national or regional election.  It's like using a neutron bomb to get rid of a fly.  It's so obvious to everyone that these laws are not geared to prevent voter fraud, but instead to make it as hard as possible for people to vote, some of whom have been voting for decades.  And in a democracy, isn't the whole point to make it easy for as many people as possible to vote?  Voters are what make democracy what it is.

The Democrats are having their national convention in Charlotte, NC, this coming week.  It will no doubt be nowhere near as freakish and insanely toxic as the recent Republican psycho-fest in Tampa.  That convention was a hellish parade of the truly ugly and repulsive in American politics.  From a snide diatribe by the repulsively obese Chris Christie, to Anne Romney's scripted-to-the-last-comma snooze-inducing attempt to "humanize" her extremely wooden, awkward and creepy husband, to the much-ballyhooed screed by veep candidate Paul "Lyin'" Ryan in which he STILL hasn't said anything interesting and valuable, the convention was one of the most repellent, distasteful things shown on television so far this year.  Republicans seem to be making a Herculean effort to be the source of the most repulsive media of all time, between the convention and the primary debates.

Still, no one was prepared for the supernova of batshit-craziness when film icon and new poster boy for dementia Clint Eastwood did a stunningly bizarre piece of performance art by talking to a chair where an invisible Obama was seated.  Almost universally panned by pundits and critics, it will go down as one of the weirdest, creepiest and saddest things ever.  It did have one delightful effect - Mitt Romney also gave what was billed as the most important political speech of his whole life after Clint got finished embarrassing himself, but very few people were talking about that the next day.  Everyone was reeling at how pathetic and sad Eastwood appeared on stage, in front of all those puckered, withered and desiccated faces of all those boring old white people at the convention.

This election will also be different in that it will most likely not be a war for the hearts and minds of independent voters, but more of a battle to see which side can get their bases the most riled up.  The country has gotten so very polarized over the past few elections that the number of undecided voters has shrunk to a small sliver.  I can't imagine there are many people who look at Obama and Romney and consider flipping a coin to make the choice easier.  The vast majority of voters, myself included, have had their minds made up for many many months.  The election can be held this coming Tuesday for all I care, I'm 100% ready to get it over with.  There is absolutely nothing in this enormous universe which would make me switch my vote, so why do I have to put up with all the bullshit?  The country is split down the middle, with very few swing votes, and the emphasis now is to get your core constituencies all cranked up and excited to cast their votes.

As is typical for paranoid-hysterics, Republican leaders drone ominously about how the very soul and existence of the United States of America is on the knife-edge, teetering at the abyss of destruction, and everything will surely be lost if Obama gets re-elected.  Notably, a judge in Lubbock, TX opined that there will be "civil war" and a lot of civil disobedience if the election doesn't go their way.  While those remarks can be easily dismissed as mentally-disturbed rantings of some inbred, cousin-marrying Texas hillbilly, it does illustrate the demented fear-mongering to which the Republicans are stooping this year.  Always known as the party of fear, the Republicans are pulling out all the stops in their hell-bound campaign to frighten and terrify all their racist supporters, promising them that the Apocalypse Pizza Company will be delivering an extra-large to their front door if the black guy gets back into the White House.  Desperate, fearful people do desperate things, and crazy, paranoid rednecks do really horrible, ugly, desperate things.

So, no matter who wins this election, pretty much 50% of the people in this country are going to be very, very angry and upset.  Depending on how the Congressional elections go, we may be in line for a gridlocked, hyper-partisan government that will accomplish absolutely nothing.  As the world enters a critical period on so many fronts - the environment, global economics, terrorism - having a paralyzed, divided superpower such as the USA will only make the world a much more dangerous place than it ever has been, or that it needs to be.

1 comment:

  1. The Repugnicans have certainly won the prize for being the Most Despicable. Let's just hope there are a few more liberal and independent thinkers than there are viewers of Fox Noise.