Election cycle fatigue has finally hit me. It‘s political flu season, and the endless televised bombardment of internecine maledictions has left most voters feeling bleak, harried and completely disenchanted with the entire process. As the young lady from Ohio said tonight when interviewed on television, “I’m ready to vote right now just so they’ll leave me alone.” Unfortunately, no party or candidate is listening to her or anyone else of similar mindset, because their runaway train of political ambition is drowning out the voices of real people as it careens headlong towards November 6th. For the great majority of campaign workers, party operatives and candidates themselves, ears are purely ornamental.
Why is it that these quadrennial power struggles bring out the worst in people? Who is well-served by this process of carpet bombing the truth with lies and calculated misrepresentations? I guess some of the acrimonious process is necessary, because so many aspiring to positions in “public service” have spent years piling up layers of fabrication about their own qualifications and accomplishments. In my neighborhood, we call it lying.
The Liberal lapdog main-stream media cannot be counted upon to ask hard questions and uncover fibs on both sides of the aisle, so conservative candidates are left having to do all the investigative disclosure on their opponents unassisted. Watching debate “moderator” Candy Crowley produce on cue the transcript from President Obama’s televised comments regarding the embassy attack in Benghazi had all the theatrical transparency of a total set-up. She did no such favors for Governor Romney during the debate.
One huge problem with all this spin is confusion of the voter. When facts become playthings to be distorted, stretched and twisted out of all context regarding the candidates and issues, it becomes an insurmountable task to fact-check and verify. This barrage is by design, as confused voters are left to find another criteria than truth by which to make their choices. It’s the classic Oz tactic of being told to “Ignore that little man behind the curtain!“
This opens the door for projected image to become the selection basis. Things like charisma, style and even physical looks are cultivated to supplant the critical governing qualities of character, integrity and leadership. Political handlers sneer at such concepts as “quaint”, in the same way someone might spray-paint graffiti over the Mona Lisa … unless, of course, they can cull some kind of political currency from them. As my title implies, our electoral process would make even Macchiavelli redden with shame.
The whole sordid process raises some serious questions. What are first-time voters to think, and more importantly, how are they to avoid becoming hardened cynics in the years ahead? The seeds of this sort of chicanery are certain to bear the same kind of long-term and probably irreversible consequences as the Sexual Revolution and the drug culture of the Sixties. It is so much easier to restrain something from getting out of control than it is to try and reestablish lost values in a culture where the passage of time has made them foreign to current generations. Pandora, your box is open.
The win-at-all-costs philosophy has to be rooted out and removed from our society. If you must lie and prevaricate in order to win election, what’s left to feel good about? What have you won? The Most Effective Deceiver trophy? We understand the old truism about power and what it does to people who seek it, but this worsening conflict has done great disservice to our nation and our precious liberty. We aren’t led by leaders anymore. Rather, we are buffaloed by liars and slick street hustlers playing three-card monty with our lives, freedoms and future.
Enough of the scorched earth policy regarding facts and reality. It is imperative that we return to real debates about real issues presented by real candidates with real principles, not people whose only goal is to win. I have never met a single person in my life who ran for public office solely to serve their fellow man. Never. Even the good ones have a vested self-interest that tends to trump all other motives.
So, let’s vote already and end this madness. I remember one time fly-fishing in upstate New Hampshire, under a beautiful covered bridge bracketed by verdant corn fields. The scene was pastoral in the classic sense. Then something happened. The farmer whose fields they were drove his tractor across that bridge, and he was pulling a trailer load of fermented cow manure slurry to fertilize his crops.
Within seconds I was enveloped in the most overpowering, nauseating scent I can remember. All other aspects of the beautiful scene were immediately forgotten as I struggled to breathe while wrapped in that cloying vapor. Any thoughts of fishing were forcibly replaced by the desire to simply be somewhere else and not vomit.
I’ve got that feeling again.
Image: Statue de Nicolas Machiavel, by Lorenzo Bartolini, Uffizi gallery, Florence, Italy; courtesy author Jebulon