Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Greatest Show on Earth

I'm afraid it's time for the grotesque circus of American politics to pull into town once more.  Mid-term elections loom and the presidential election is coming, as unavoidable as death but not so reassuringly final.  It's altogether fitting that Godzilla has arisen again to flatten our cities.  He's a precursor of sorts.  The freak show of our politics has monsters of its own to display which, though not so large as those on the Silver Screen, may be more destructive in the long run.

Already it seems as if Ms. Clinton is to be the Democratic nominee, or would be if the Republicans have their way.  I personally dread the possibility of what Christopher Hitchens called the Clinton-family drama playing out yet again in the White House.  Doubtless she's more clever than her obnoxious lecher of a husband, but she appears equally venal and ambitious.  All of our politicians may have those characteristics, of course, of necessity here in the land where money is protected speech.  But one longs for variety, even in a freak show.  Surely there are newcomers to the political scene, ready to be bought and to take their places on stage.

Comments regarding her age and health are not unexpected, though it seems early to begin such attacks and they come ill from the pudgy pundit Karl Rove.  But her husband relentlessly commented regarding the age of Bob Dole all those years ago, and it's difficult for the Clintons to complain greatly as a result.  The Republicans may want to give this a rest until their nominee is chosen, though.

Just who will be the Republican nominee is unknown.  Those strikingly strange individuals we've heard of already may not last.  However, it can't be doubted that whoever is chosen will be at least as odd.  What sane, reasonable person would want to be President of the United States?  Who could put up with the miserable hypocrisy, posturing, buying and selling; the wretched kowtowing to virtually anyone with money and influence, without feeling such a loathing of self and others as to make suicide seem the only dignified option?  Only a monster.  Only a freak.

It's difficult to believe that we've managed to create a system which requires the election of those lacking in either principle or intelligence, but we've done just that.  We can't claim to have done so intentionally, but may as well have thought to do so all along given the near-perfection of the system in obtaining such a result.  At best our politicians are confused, dull figures, likely to say whatever they think will please those they're speaking to at any given time, then to forget what was said and to whom.  Perhaps it is not the wise but the opportunistic who truly live in the moment.

Of course every circus requires its carnies, its shills, but we've seen to that as well.  These inhabit our media, or are consultants to the stars of the show or the media, or are party functionaries or lackeys.  We listen to them, as they're as much part of the show as the politicians. 

It's indeed a great show, and a most important one, and the seeming inevitability of it makes me wonder whether the opponents of democracy have been right.  But there must be some option other than totalitarianism or a dictatorship or oligarchy, and these are what it seems those who oppose democracy generally conclude is required.  Something a bit closer to a democracy.

The corruption inherent in the system could perhaps be limited by the imposition of restrictions on the extent to which money can be used to influence politicians and elections, but our Supreme Court has seen to it that such restrictions cannot be imposed, at least until such time as a majority of them have died.  Term limits might help.  Viable parties in addition to the Democrats and Republicans might do so as well.

Perhaps our best option is to limit the powers available to our politicians.  The less able they are to regulate us for the benefit of those who do what is required to get them elected and keep them in power the better off we are.

What is the likelihood of any real change occurring, however?  Given our tendency to avoid change something remarkable would be required, and what would be remarkable in these times and at the same time possible is likely to be dramatically harmful as well.  So it's on with the show for now.  This is it, as Bugs and his friends would say.

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