Sunday, August 31, 2008

Another Storm Cloud

Earlier this week I attended a lecture by the author Chuck Klosterman
in Iowa City, Iowa. Mr. Klosterman described something I’ve been fixating upon post-DNC--enthusiastic political groupies--you know, the ones who wave signs jumping up and down in front of the camera. He explained his inability to understand how people feel so sure and so excited about something that, at this point, is only speculative—that Barack Obama will make a good president. I agree, and up the ante. How can we be excited about any of this? About anything?

The bread and circus is replete with Eisenhowers, Clintons, and The Boss blaring…

[The baggage of the old guard]
[Being bombarded with images of the electorate, our fellow human beings, decked out in Old Glory, jumping around madly, waving signs]

= About as alienating a formula as I can think of.

Although much of the population participates in some ritualistic form of “woohoo”-behavior, be it at church, sporting events, or political rallies; this brand is particularly hard to swallow. How do intelligent people keep the faith? How does General Lloyd "Fig" Newton stay optimistic? The remarkably endearing Barney Smith from the Indiana Heartland believe someone is going to help him out? How does one quell the cynicism?

Down in New Orleans as people batten down the hatches and seek refuge from Gustav, the press buzzes, and the buzz-machine generates new concoctions. Not unlike the old concoctions, mind you, they use the same recipes. The GOP can use this opportunity to broadcast their oft-missing humanity. Heroic gestures and convention sacrifices will melt the icy image of The Party. And, the poor get screwed again. This time the storm not only means risks to the lives and homes of the people of greater NOLA, it may also mean more votes for “maverick” McBush and thus, another four years of suffering for those who are already suffering the most.

This is why the daily disappointments of politics hurt so much. “Lock, stock, and barrel after barrel” we get the same formulaic answers and the same vague plans for reform.

The mortifying media spectacle isn’t to blame; it’s symptomatic of the same old…
There is a little hope for change here though, a little. But, you don’t see Dennis Kucinich or the like up there, do you? We still demand the pomp and circumstance, still allow the mirage of excitement and camaraderie to cloud our political vision. Traditions run deep in the land of fundamentalist Christianity, waste, greed, patriarchy, and colonialist privilege.

Sure, I vote. I want you to vote. In fact, rock the vote-- or whatever the slogan du jour—but really, the vote? The politicians? The Government?

I think it’s time to figure out how to look each other in the eye.

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