Friday, August 31, 2012

A Nice Charade--Watching the RNC

Thanks to the invention of modern television, we got to witness the public relations horror show that was masquerading itself as the Republican National Convention.  In true modern form, I couldn't help but notice how great Mitt's hair looked--nice and thick, greying temples imparting experience and wisdom, but the makeup was a bit too pasty and funeral-esque for me.  His skin looked creepy, making his appearance a bit uncanny.  Ever since the Nixon and Kennedy debate, candidates cannot go on television without makeup, but tonight it was overdone.   Nuance can never be left for the unwashed masses.

Romney's speech was little style, no substance.  A career politician with no enduring principals, Romney uttered the usual platitudes about American ethnocentrism, oops, I mean, "American exceptionalism."  He talked about his experience as a "business guy," trying to make the connection that somehow this qualifies him to be an effective president.  Considering his business was acting as a casino capitalism financier who helped companies send jobs overseas, it is clear why the business community loves him--he would probably be more efficient at dismantling the middle class than Obama.  A man who can more quickly accelerate this country's decline into a two-tiered banana republic of rich and poor is just the kind of man who becomes the Republican nominee for president of the United States.

Then there's Paul Ryan.  While Romney is simply a careerist robot with no soul--kind of like Bill Clinton--Paul Ryan is actually evil.  When he's not busy lying--which is practically all the time--he is worshiping his hero, Ayn Rand.  Rand is the author of books proclaiming the benefits of sociopathic selfishness.  Hell bent on making sure that the elderly and disabled are denied the meager social safety net and health care benefits that might help them simply to survive, he is lauded as a "serious financial guy" by market fundamentalists.  The Ryan House "budget" actually increases the deficit by giving tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires, eviscerates Medicare, and increases military spending.  Yet somehow, this guy is considered a "deficit hawk?"  Only in the final days of a decadent Empire can such foolishness be taken seriously.

The thing that keeps me up at night isn't the fact that corporate money keeps only the most soulless politicians on the payroll.  The fact that we are stupid enough to allow this to happen is the thing that bothers me.  After all, if we had any critical thinking skills at all, we would see through both Obama and Romney's bullshit.  We would see that they aren't serving our interests.  We would see through douchebags like Paul Ryan who want to deny health care to disabled people like my father.  Instead, we are gullible.  We listen to words instead of paying attention to the actions of our politicians.  The Wall Street bailouts and the handling of the financial crisis by both Bush and Obama were both intensely anti-middle class. 

Obama is better than Romney.  I intend on voting for him because I am afraid of the next Supreme Court nomination turning out to be a right wing radical like Justice Scalia.  We cannot afford to lose more freedoms at the hands of crypto-fascists like him.  But Obama is no saint.  He has been a disaster.  He could have been like FDR and turned the financial crisis into a real opportunity for change.  Instead he squandered his opportunity by kissing Republican ass and trying to accomodate the right.  He needed to have more backbone and a fighting spirit.  His foreign policy is largely a continuance of the repressive Bush drone attacks, indefinite detention, and extrajudicial killings.  He is very largely an Eisenhower Republican.  Only in a country as radically right wing as America would he be considered a "socialist."  This country is probably more right wing than Iran.

The problem with Romney isn't that he is a soulless, empty suit, who believes in nothing but financial gain at the expense of all else.  The problem is that he represents what America has become--a place where short term profit, careerism, superficial looks, and selfishness rule supreme.  In a country of millions of people, anyone could have been the Republican nominee. Romney didn't accidentally become the nominee.  Ron Paul, a man of integrity, was a real, viable choice who was rejected outright by the people.  We chose Romney because he is us--a piece of shit.  America is not the exceptional, shining city on the hill.  We are a nation of individualists who want to grab our share of the cash, fuck everybody else, because "I gots to gets mine," has become the new spirit of the age.

Obama is more or less the same thing, with a slightly more human touch.  He's a nice guy who kills people with attack drones, and he is willing to throw a few scraps to the poor so they won't revolt.  But he's no saint.  Just like Cornel West said, he is basically a black mascot for Wall Street promoted by the public relations industry.  He serves his corporate masters well, although this time they like Romney more, so they've decided to give him a bit more money.

The media coverage of the RNC has been absolutely shameful.  On ORA TV, they quite literally had a public relations expert as a panel member discussing the event.  As a society, we have become so contemptuous of democracy that we actually have PR guys commenting shamelessly about the event.  For supposed "balance," there were the faux-liberal guys and the supposedly right wing pundits like Ben Stein to utter their commentary.  We would have been better off listening to the old guys making wisecracks from the Muppets.  This kind of "balance" nicely keeps the "debate" within the proper ideological bounds.  There is no discussion of substance.  We focus on how Mitt's hair looked, the horse race between him and Obama, and whether or not Paul Ryan will bring in more votes.  No challenges to the system are mentioned.  In a time when the media constantly yammers on about a person's "brand," democracy becomes a commodity, bought and sold to the highest bidder.  This reflects a total disregard for democracy.

It is telling that people care so little about the future of their country that the ratings for the convention were terrible.  This shouldn't be surprising, considering how few people even bother to vote.  They don't care enough to inform themselves and be engaged in the political process.  And it's not because they are cynical and believe their votes don't matter--it's because they don't care.  As a country, we are so misinformed that there are still a substantial number of people who believe that Obama was not born in America, that Obamacare was going to lead to "death panels" where the government was to decide whether granny would live or die, and morons like "Joe the Plumber' actually are actually considered serious political candidates--a man who shoots fruit with firearms while waxing poetic about Obama's "socialism."  The Internet is ubiquitous.  A world of knowledge is at our fingertips.  Such levels of ignorance are inexcusable.

The problem is that our politicians are us.  We elect them.  And the picture of America isn't pretty.  It's no surprise we are an atomized, selfish culture filled with people who idolize selfish pricks like Steve Jobs, a man who spent his life stealing handicap parking spaces, building sweatshops in China to sell overpriced devices which restrict our freedom, and getting us to build our hopes and dreams around iGadgets which are all style and no substance.  Only in America can a man who uses the likeness of Gandhi to sell iCrap at overpriced amounts be worshiped and glorified, while a man like Bradley Manning, who exposes the lies and misdeeds of government be reviled and hated.  We are too worried about Mitt's hair to fret over the fact that Manning has been locked up for over 850 days without a trial in solitary confinement, or that the President can now order robotic drones to kill American citizens who are suspected terrorists.

We have made our own bed.  Now is our time to lie in it.

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