I am eighty years old and I have voted in every presidential election held after my twenty-first birthday. I have participated and voted in more presidential elections than most people you will meet. I have never experienced a presidential election which one could point to as a model of civility and intellectual honesty. In fact, most were downright dirty in tenor and tactics. My reading of U.S. history has revealed to me presidential politics in our beloved nation has from the beginning been less than civil and certainly of low intellectual standards most of the time. It is these experiences that led me to have low expectations for civility and fact-based intellectual examination of the many critical issues the people of the electorate must decide in the current presidential election. Early in the current campaign, I realized I had set my expectations too high in light of the rhetoric and associated antics of the persons seeking early advantage in the selection of a presidential candidate. It was a public viewing of a parade of clowns accompanied by the presentations of policy positions that can only be rated as an insult to the intelligence of the electorate down to the idiot thinking level. Worse yet, the “free and unfettered” news organizations of our nation saw and reported that which would have the greatest beneficial effect on audience share and increased notoriety for the players of the political game. Even though I have given up in disgust my effort to stay current with the politics of the day, I sense the level of political discourse has not improved at all and my continued disgust remains justified.
There is no mystery to me as to the reasons for the state of political discourse in the U.S. We tend to look with bemused tolerance on the antics of nascent political clowns even when they hold power in government. The minions of the news organizations report these antics as if they are newsworthy events in the hope of further feathering of the corporate nest. Both serve as encouragement to the clowns to continue the debasement of our political institutions.This reinforcing encouragement enables the clown to grow in stature by reason of increased audience and notoriety. Some even reach leadership positions such as Speaker Of The House Of Representatives, as our not too distant history reveals. Political clowns need money to finance the “stage-craft” necessary to facilitate the presentation of their political antics in the “political theater” we all enjoy too well. More than sufficient money is readily available because within any group of people, any group, you will always discover a small number that are ” short of a few bricks to make a full load”, I mean, are political wackos in their World views. Some political groups exhibit behavior such that one suspects the wacko ratio is anomalously high, but that is another story. It is also true some groups have people with very large monitory resources – I should say very, very large resources. It is therefore inevitable there exists a small number of political wackos that also have very, very large monitory resources. I suspect there exists within the intellectual realm known as Political Science, a basic Law that espouses the notion ” Like political wackos attract like political wackos”. There is plenty of empirical evidence in support of this Law. When one puts all this together, it is easy to see how political clowns, who are wacko by definition, meet their monitory needs. The recent history also reveals resources in excess of political requirements are available for the recreational needs of the clowns in general. Needs such as, persons skilled in the sexual arts, self-esteem boosters to augment the perceived pitifully sparse boost available from the spouse, chemicals found necessary in the pursuit of happiness, club memberships to ensure privacy while engaged in the recreational opportunities herein provided, a team of persons to act as personal friends when the occasion requires friends, and private transportation to reduce contact with persons of lessor status. Citizens are an example of the latter mainly do to their known ability to ask untimely questions. An excess of such questions has the effect of infecting the electorate with curiosity about the true nature and value of the clown’s particular brand of antics based national policies. It is not in the clown’s best interest to risk this kind of infection. Recent history also shows the inherent danger in this kind of infection, but there is a perfect remedy, perfect because it prevents the infection if administered beforehand and is a cure if administered generously and quickly after infection occurs. The raw material for the remedy is obtained by highly motivated and specially trained technicians in the art of squeezing fat cats. The high motivation is necessary because most fat cats resist being squeezed without first being stroked and petted in a way personally onerous to the technician. Once squeezed successfully, the resulting essence of fat cat must be carefully laundered to eliminate any trace amount of fat cat from the essence. This laundering of the essence requires training of a special kind. This training is usually obtained through apprenticeships at law firms or financial institutions. Internship with government is a definite plus.
Once the essence of fat cat has been laundered and converted into its most potent formulation, the dollar, it is ready for injection into the body politic. Injection is usually done by professionals hired for the purpose. The essence is most effective against infectious citizen curiosity when its true purpose is hidden from view, like children being vaccinated. The techniques used by those hired include diversion of attention toward unimportant issues, skillful misstatement and selective use of facts, artful use of words such as “clean coal” to obscure the otherwise obvious reality. Often an expert in a certain field is hired by reason of name recognition and speaks to an issue entirely different in the hope of credibility transfer. I call these and other techniques the art of misrepresentation and deception. A step above manipulating facts is ignoring the facts altogether in political rhetoric. This makes life easier for the wacko politician as it permits the creation of synthetic facts to suit perfectly the wacko policy being presented, besides it makes it possible to fit a policy statement on a bumper sticker, a convenience for the base of the wacko politician.
Clowns, wacko politicians, fat cats, synthetic facts, no facts, all are made obsolete by the recent re-discovery of outright lying as the wacko political technique of choice. This is happening now because of the universal availability to the electorate of very small, hand-held personal communication machines. These machines enable the wacko politicians to efficiently deliver synthetic truth to each member of the base. The same type machines are then used by the members of the base to quickly alert the electorate to the synthetic truth of the moment. Some time members of the electorate are awakened from their machine induced stupor by the noise generated by the buzz resulting from the mass use of the machines. Such awakened members of the electorate soon suspect they are being duped and begin to ask untimely questions. This time, perhaps, we will get lucky and even a massive injection of essence of fat cat will not cure the electorate of infectious intellectual disease. Well, I can hope can’t I?
Thomas Paine! Where are you when we need you so much?