by S. Paul Forrest
Another Presidential election will soon be upon us. As in the past, this election has more to do with showmanship than reality. When a pizza slogan captures the imaginations of American voters rather than serious issues like that of a ten-year long war without purpose or the migration of American Industry to foreign lands, one has to wonder whether American voters are all in some way, suffering from dementia when seriously considering any of these performers for the highest office in the land. If these candidates are the best of the best from the Republican Party, one must pause to contemplate whether reality has left the GOP’s collective consciousness or whether those producing this performance, think American’s are all so easily amused.
Currently, the public opinion of Congress shows an 82% disapproval rating. Considering this political side show of Presidential campaigning echoing the reality of our representative’s inability to lead, it doesn’t seem things are going to get better any time soon. One would hope this campaign would have brought about a better approach to our current, economic and social debacle but this latest Republican run for President has brought to us all nothing more than sycophantic amusement. Forget the circus, this show has an entertainment factor high enough to rival even the best of late night television or drama mini-series’. Like watching an episode of Family Guy, candidates from Perry to Bachmann have rendered unto us all a level of ridiculous that one has to wonder whether they even take the role of President seriously. It would be funny if it weren’t so very sad.
The overriding theme of these debates has nothing to do with facts and viable policy change but rather, the sole purpose of getting our current President out of office and these candidates are doing and saying anything to facilitate that. Take the “oops” factor as an example: Perry can’t remember the three federal agencies he will cut and Cain seems unable to sort through the pre-interview history lessons he received to sort out the agree or disagree question of Obama’s handling of Libya or even his apparent ignorance of China’s nuclear capability. He also, as if his pizza slogans and apparent lack of understanding on foreign policy hadn’t provided enough entertainment; when asked if he was a Koch Brother funded politician, replied, “They are my brothers from another mother”. You have to at least respect his brazen honesty. After all, every other Koch paid politician in the Tea Party has denied this role.
It is easy to understand the incessant push to oust our current president from a political standpoint but when torture becomes an “enhanced interrogation technique” rather than the crime against humanity and a tactic in direct conflict with the Geneva Convention that it is, one can’t help but imagine these people will say anything to appeal to what they consider to be their base, no matter their personal stance. Take Senator Michelle Bachmann as an example: As a self-acclaimed, devout Christian; when asked about water boarding replied that it was “clearly wrong” to call it torture. Earlier in the month, this same Holy Roller in her version of government’s social responsibility stated “if you don’t work, you don’t eat”. Surely, Jesus would have agreed with both of these statements; yes?
Not to be upstaged, Governor Rick Perry has offered us a campaign filled with gaffs and laughs. With his forgetful manner and personable demeanor, he had stormed the campaign trail with a platoon of republican Tea Party supporters quoting how Texas has led the nation in job creation. He says he stands against big government and social entitlements of America but upon closer examination, the jobs created in his State have largely come from this same big government he so adamantly criticizes. Contradiction though, is always a character attribute enjoyed by an audience.
There is also the antagonist of this tantalizing plot: Ron Paul. As an established physician and US Senator, Paul has such a grasp on the reality of our American, governmental hypocrisy, he is the man Republicans love to hate. But on the stage of the debates and off, he is often ignored by popular media. Maybe it is because he makes too much sense in his attacks on the FED and his description of our current, corporatist government as a fascist state which is damaging to their profit centered right-wing cause. No matter how you view him, Paul is a thorn in the side of the fantasy oriented, Republican Party political game and apparently, isn’t afraid to point out this nation’s leadership failings even if it is directed at his own side of the aisle.
Let us not forget in this cold shower of power, the ever present, larger than life, Newt Gingrich; a candidate with chutzpah, gall and charisma. Surfing the media hating wave of the right wing, political ocean, the former Speaker of the House shows up at every debate with fire in his gullet and lax sense of tact. Going from one scene to the next as good Newt versus bad, this man, if elections were to be based upon entertainment factor alone, would have my vote. His brazen approach to Washington politics as usual is very entertaining. Adding to these attractive qualities is his past snafus: A man that once condemned and pushed for the impeachment of President Bill Clinton for the immoral actions of infidelity, this candidate was himself, engaging in the same. But us Americans love a conflicted character, don’t we?
And then, finally there is Mitt Romney: The former Governor of Massachusetts, this character rides the middle switch rail. Charged with the energy of Presidential campaign experience, Romney is the protagonist of the plot. Cast as the father figure in a house filled with insane children, this candidate is more equipped to take the reigns of the White House than any other candidate to date; a sad reality, to be sure. His character has been imbued with the always entertaining infliction of seemingly, political schizophrenia. At one time Romney was free choice then he became pro-life for the campaign. He enacted a social heath care program in Massachusetts only to condemn Obama’s similar one. Likewise, he once supported same-sex marriages only to flip flop for the campaign trail. This candidate is truly intriguing or rather, baffling; but then what would a good drama be without such?
John Huntsman, the red headed step child of this anti-reality show, is the only candidate thus far to possess any reasonable platform. When asked about the current debacle in the GOP, Huntsman said the following: “We’re off camped out in the extreme ends of politics, finger-pointing and engaging in hyper-charged partisan rhetoric. We’re not doing the work of the people. So I say, you got to do the work of the people, you have to put something on the table that at least stands a chance.” Oh, but that would expecting too much of this fantasy enwrapped side show. After all, it isn’t about solutions; it is about distraction and partisan solidarity in the continuing defamation of our current President. It is comforting to know that at least some Republicans on the Island understand this.
The debates all have one thing in common despite the apparent lack of reason; an anti-Obama agenda. When asked about economics or our foreign policy and whether their individual experience would warrant a position to handle the job of the most powerful person on the planet, most of these candidates respond simply by saying, “at least it is better than what we have now with Obama.” Apologies all around to those who support this statement but it is simply not a viable answer. Just speaking out about our current President as defunct is not enough to deserve America’s vote.
People across America are listening intently to these figures of political contradiction filled episodes like reality television addicts looking for a fix. No matter how long the show goes on though, the plot is still a false representation of the real America we all live in. Maybe in the 80’s, when prosperity was there for all, this empty rhetoric would have been enough but now, in these days of increasing poverty and devastating class warfare, the show is losing its appeal. No mater how long these puppets speak or for that matter, what they speak about, it doesn’t change the current reality of our Nation’s troubles. At the end of the day, the debates have come to represent one thing only: Our governmental leaders have no idea what We the People really want or need.
Watching the Republican Party campaign is akin to tuning into a daytime soap opera. As the characters develop and the plot thickens, the next episode becomes greatly anticipated. Will Michelle and Rick come to terms with their hypocrisy? Will Mitt finally fail in his seemingly solid delivery of flip-flop, partisan politics? Or will Newt actually take the lead with his persistent delivery of middle-aged angst against media? Stay tuned folks, the drama will continue and if you don’t tune in, you will never know who killed the butler in the library.
The debates, though entertaining, represent nothing more than a continuation of the same sad distractions we have been forced to watch for the past twenty years. Americans have come to realize that the present, political farce occupying Washington has nothing new to offer. This mini-series of dysfunction makes clear the sobering truth that We the People are no longer truly represented. No matter your political affiliation or whether you agree or disagree with the statements of heard on the campaign trail stage or in this article, we all can unequivocally agree on one basic truth: The 2011 Presidential debates lacks both reality and the viable solutions that this, our modern America and its people, so desperately need.