Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Stumbling through democracy

I'm not reading all the polls. In fact, I'm not reading any of the actual polls, just the media coverage of the polls, the pundits on both sides pinning the numbers this way and that way, coming up with great reasons why the most recent numbers say their side is winning. I'm checking both sides of the coverage as much as possible, and is warranted, considering how deeply I loathe the fact that the race is really a two horse race, even though there are five horses in it. It frustrates me to no end to know that some of the other candidates would actually reflect the actual positions of the average American voter, and that the two frontrunners are going to sell out the middle class and fuck the lower class in order to satisfy the rich and very rich.

So I'm paying attention, and I'm listening to the message and the spin, and I'm wondering what the fuck is going on.

John McCain has a reputation, and I don't know how much he deserves it, but it's there nonetheless, for being a moderate Republican. What we'd call up here a Red Tory. Now, it's funny the way these things are measured in the states: you're judged on your "leftness" or "rightness" on ridiculously unimportant things like stem cell research and gay marriage, while the things that matter, like military spending, government privatization, taxes, infrastructure, international policy, and knowledge of actual current affairs are neglected. So while McCain has a reputation for being relatively liberal on social issues, he's been fairly firmly entrenched in the things that have made Republicans Republicans in recent years. However, he has somehow earned this name, and he's pissing it away by tacking even farther right during this election. So while he's continue the policies of Bush et al which have made a once great nation somewhat embarrassing, he's going to continue it's seemingly inevitable slide into theocracy and ignorance. He's trailing in the polls, but not by much.


Because Obama has taken his idealistic, hopeful, charismatic campaign, a platform which has evoked such men as Kennedy (whether or not that's deserved), MKL (ditto), and Mandela (again), and is sliding to the centre. He promised change, and delivering moderation. He promised a difference, and is becoming like every other politician we've seen. He gave the people of the US a vision, and has delivered disillusionment. I realize that there are forces within the Democratic party that are in it to win it, but I'd suspect the way to win the election is to promise change and then actually deliver. To say that you'll return the reputation of that once great nation to its former splendour. To begin to repair ties in the international community. To stop spending more than the rest of the planet (combined) on "defence". To instead invest in pensions and health care and social programs.

To actually be fucking different.

I don't get to vote in the US election, and I'm glad. It's frustrating enough to know that another country is going to make a terrible mistake this fall, no matter which way they vote. I can't imagine knowing it was my country that was stumbling blindly through the democratic process.

There are three candidates promising actual, real, substantial, tangible change. Three candidates getting no fucking coverage at all, either because of or despite the fact that they are actually different. Obama is margianlly better than McCain, but we've seen that electing Democrats doesn't mean shit when it comes to improving the quality of life of the average voter. A junta of war criminals sit in the White House, and Congress could do something about that, but is afraid to. The rich are robbing the country blind, and Congress could do something about that, too. The Pentagon is gearing up for another stupid and illegal war, and Congress is standing by, waiting to approve the order to go to war.

The news coverage of minutae, the endless discussion of tactics and strategy, the sycophantic parsing of speeches, the mild condemnation of attack ads, the validation of ludicrous statements and the endorsement of bland and pointless candidates: it's all sound and fury, signifying nothing. It's a waste of my time, and yours.

And yet this is what we do.

If I were still a fundie, a jeebnut, an evangelical wackjob, I'd figure these were the end times. In a less religious sense, they might actually be, though I'm cautiously optimistic. All I know is that the US is not part of the solution. Not for the next few years, at least.

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