Standing In The Gap Of The Real And Perceived
After last night’s 2014 mid-term election results, Republicans are cautiously emboldened. Democrats are disappointed and bracing for the cooler air that comes with lame duck season. It’s 2006 turned inside out. Rumors of the Republican Party’s demise, it seems, were exaggerated.
Nonetheless, millions of voters sat out. There is a weariness among voters, sort of like donor fatigue, because many of them sense that somewhere on this American odyssey, we got stuck in Charybdis: around and down, around and down, around and down. Does it really matter if we vote anymore? Is there really any difference between the Republicans and the Democrats? The rank-and-file and the blindly patriotic would say “yes!” to both.
I can’t blame them for believing. But their faith is misplaced. It’s time to come to Jesus, folks.
Yes, the two major parties have different platforms. But it’s clear from the last 40 years of American politics, for those with eyes to see and ears to hear, that their goal is the same. What the Steelers’ and Packers’ players want to do is win the game. What the team owners want to do is make money. In the same way, political parties aren’t opponents, any more than a hammer and a screwdriver are opponents. The game is not winning the contest, but rather selling the brand, because whether our team wins or loses a particular contest, the owners know that what we buy with our hearts, we buy with our wallets.
No less than George Washington warned about the controlling influence of political parties in his 1796 farewell address, where he said that the powers behind political parties sought…
“… to put in the place of the delegated will of the Nation, the will of a party… and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to make the public Administration the Mirror of the ill concerted and incongruous projects of faction (division), rather than the Organ of consistent and wholesome plans digested by common councils and modefied (sic) by mutual interests.”
Washington then predicted that…
“however combinations or Associations of (political parties) may now & then answer popular ends, they are likely, in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the Power of the People, & to usurp for themselves the reins of Government; destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.”
This, from the father of our country. And we listened about as well as most rebellious children do their fathers, I guess. Thanks for the warning, Dad.
So, the premise that political parties are tools is not mine. Whatever the original intentions of the establishment political parties in the United States, the purpose of them today is to sustain the system by distracting the citizenry from the actual issues, which are seldom mentioned in the mainstream media, and making sure voters simply cancel out each other at the polls and in the court of public opinion. In other words, political parties serve as pressure valves “to blunt the stench of discontent in these corporation nation-states.” To these ends, the parties do their job well. No muss, no fuss, or, as the Roman poet Juvenal put it, “the public has long since cast off its cares; the people that once bestowed commands, consulships, legions and all else, now meddles no more and longs eagerly for just two things—-Bread and Games!” Our lords might be in control, but they’re not too original about it. Why mess with what works?
The powers behind the political parties — the ones you’ll never see standing behind a podium — run the political establishment of the United States, and that of many other countries, like a Taco Bell. Taco Bell has a menu. How do you like your meat/corn/wheat/beans/lettuce/tomatoes/cheese arranged? Order the Tostada, Meximelt, or Bean Burrito; it matters not. Cut it with a fork, scoop it with a spoon, or hold it in your hand; it matters not. You tickle your taste buds, and Taco Bell keeps you in the store.
Tom Hopkins, probably the world’s most successful sales trainer of the last 50 years, calls this sales closing method the “Alternate Advance,” meaning, as a salesperson, that you should ask every closing question in such a way that no matter what the prospect’s answer, she’s moving in the direction of a buying decision with you.
“Would you like that in blue or green?”
“Do you prefer the power of a V8, or the economy of the four-cylinder?”
“Do you believe the Constitution is a dry-erase board, or an Etch-A-Sketch?”
Nevermind that it was created as oil on canvas.
The political stage is the same scenario. For this reason, I’m ready to consider at this point that at the federal level, my vote may really not matter. It’s all too well organized and too centrally controlled. I don’t know that it’s not just a show, or that Washington really changes, even if it’s not and all votes are counted honestly. Even if it’s a fair crapshoot, you can be sure that the House turns a profit every day. Just because you win the occasional roll doesn’t mean that the game isn’t rigged.
Once a politician makes it to Washington, D.C., he finds, with rare exception, that everyone rents the same apartments, goes to the same bars, hires the same whores, and plays the same golf courses. On Capitol Hill and in front of the cameras, they go to their respective corners and play their parts. When the lights go out, though, they’re all slapping each other’s backs, grabassing at the same soirees and lighting each other’s cigars. To believe differently is naïveté, no matter your persuasion. If you are a Democratic or Republican stalwart, then, as Mr. Henley sings in the video above, “you don’t know who the enemy is.”
Alternate Advance. Either way, every breath you’re allowed is nonetheless a little more constricted and shallower than the last one. Disregard that the mouth is now up to your knees.
Chagall Guevera, the best band you’ve never heard, said it best in “Monkey Grinder,” a brilliant missive on corporate culture, no less present in a government corporation than any other:
“I can’t find my little lost dog
And the neighbors say theirs disappeared last week
And there’s a rumor going ’round ’bout a big, long boa
And I hear it’s sleeping under the fat man’s porch, oh, yea
Some say it’s insatiable
Some say it just unhooks its jaws
And then it swallows most anything it wants
Even a full-grown fat man…
“Who knows factually a monkey’s lifespan?
This is not your ordinary hurdy-gurdy man
All you higher primates who sweat to keep the company strong
Have you heard the song of the monkey grinder?”
Does my vote ever matter? Sure it does. The best chance of affecting change is at the local level. Can I make a dent in a school board election? Absolutely. Can I help elect a state house representative? I believe so. I’m not banking on anything beyond that, though, even though I vote in the bigger races, too.
Because I still holding out hope. But I’m not holding my breath.