Saturday, September 06, 2008

Isn't It Pretty To Think So...

So the Republican Convention is finally over. The delegates have packed their jowls and departed for sun-blasted concrete hellscapes like Sugarland, Texas and Orlando, Florida, which their porcine little minds convince them are paradises, and the poor workers at the Xcel center are just now starting to get the stench of BrylCream and prostate cancer out of the fabric. The entire affair was an airless recitation of classic Republican bullshit and vitriol, alternate fawning hero worship of John McCain with vicious contempt for anyone who lives outside the imaginary Republican America of white fences and white faces. It was hollow and stupid and hateful and boring, but it did leave us with a couple of interesting insights.

1. Communities are for losers.

The biggest laughs from the crowd in St. Paul came when goblins like Rudy Guiliani and Sarah Palin invoked Barack Obama's time working as a community organizer. The very word sparked waves of derisive guffaws. For Republicans, any community that needs organizing isn't worth a damn in the first place. Hell, communities are only for people who don't have the intelligence and wherewithal to live in a gated suburb. The sort of urban, minority communities that Obama helped organize in the early 90s are to be subjugated, not empowered. Republicans have been at war with the very idea of "community" for thirty years now, destroying these neighborhoods with deindustrialization, cuts in social spending, and the "war on drugs." All with the goal of destroying the urban working class as a political force, turning its people into an atomized social detritus, good for hard labor in the prison industrial complex and the neo-feudal service economy. The last thing Republicans, secure in their exurban bunkers and hostile to anything smacking of collective action want is to see some uppity* Negro organizing these people into an effective grassroots movement to push back against their re-enslavement.

2. Drill, Baby, Drill!

One of the most striking things about the Republican Convention, other than the fact that it set the world record for number of middle-aged pricks in cowboy hats assembled under one roof, was the complete and total lack of policy discusion on display. In a country facing economic crisis and a disastrous foreign occupation, there was nary a hint of actual proposed solutions to the nation's problems. A lot of bullshit about how awesome John McCain is for being a war hero and how delicious mooseburgers are, but nothing in the way of discussion of domestic or foreign issues. Except one: More offshore drilling! These asswipes talked about drilling so much you'd think there was some sort of subconscious psycho-sexual release to be had in all that discussion of plunging deep into the earth to unlock gushers of hot, sticky, sweet light crude. That offshore drilling is THE Republican issue of the election speaks volumes about the essential nature of Republican governance. Offshore drilling will accomplish absolutely nothing by way of reducing fuel prices or oil dependency, but it WILL create massive environmental damage AND make billions of dollars for oil companies. This has been the GOP gameplan for a generation: propose solutions that do more harm than good, while simultaneously enriching their corporate benefactors.

It's a sweet con, but this time around it might just be too much for even the remarkably bullshit-tolerant American electorate. This time, my disgust with the spectacle of Republican hatefulness and venality on display at the RNC was tempered by the strong, thrilling suspicion that these jizzbag's days are numbered. There are too many angry, fed-up people struggling in a failing economy, too many people killed in a pointless war, for the old snake oil to work anymore. Add to that the fact that the GOP is facing a once in a lifetime political talent with a shitload of money and an amazing ground organization, and it looks like the wrecking crew may well finally get the gasface from the American people.

And there's the goddamn rub.

You see, all of this awful Republican-ness is really, really making me want Obama to win in November, and that makes me feel like a goddamn chump. I know that on the fundamental issues, it simply does not matter who wins. We live in the international empire of corporate transaction that Ned Beatty rhapsodizes in the film Network,a "holistic system of systems" designed to generate profit for the shareholders at the expense of the many. All significant decisions of state are made not in by the political process, but by the sociopathic needs of the market economy, an empire of dollars as well as armies.

Elections are fought over the aesthetics of this empire. The sad fate of the Iraqi people over the past sixteen years serves as a perfect case study. It may disturb a lot of anti-war liberals to hear this, but Bill Clinton is responsible for the death of as many Iraqis as George W. Bush. The difference is that the Iraqis who died during the Clinton administration were killed by a merciless sanctions regime that denied the people of Iraq access to life-saving medical supplies, and technology to repair the water treatment infrastructure destroyed during the first Gulf War. The United Nations estimates that more than half a million Iraqi children died as a result of these sanctions, which liberal heroine Madeline Albright declared to be "worth the cost." Now, George Bush is certainly no slouch at killing Iraqis, of course. His invasion has destroyed the lives of millions of them. In Iraq, the result of Clinton foreign policy was similar to that of Bush's:
death and pain and horror. The difference between the two policies lay in the way they are perceived by the American electorate. People of the liberal temperament prefer the Clinton approach because the deaths are quiet: no bombs, just starvation and untreated disease. Quiet enough to allow people who prize their ability to empathize and live humanely to feel self-righteous. Folks of a conservative bent like the Bush method because the deaths are loud. The cluster bombs and depleted uranium rounds pound out a rhythm of American power and domination, gratifying people who cherish righteous displays of violence. These two groups of Americans fight tooth and nail in elections to determine what political aesthetic tendencies will determine the superficial shape of the empire. Either way, the result in Iraq is the same: industrial-sized misery doled out in order to "stabilize" the world energy market.

So why the hell do I care who wins?

Part of it comes from my addiction to electoral politics. I follow it with the same rapt attention to the details as I do baseball, and like baseball, I know that I can only truly enjoy it if I pick a team to root for. Mainly, though, I long for the chance to really be disappointed by a politician. I came to political consciousness in the waning days of the Clinton administration. His craven triangulations were taken for granted as part of the political landscape. Then, came Bush, who I despised as a witless, entitled rich kid disphit from day one. I never had the experience of having my giddy hopes for change crushed under the heel of political reality. Clinton's mushy, pro-corporate third way and Bush's psychotic end times warmongering are all I've known. I'm a political cynic, but I haven't earned it. I want to experience that sinking, gasping realization that the man who filled my with a real sense that a better world is within our grasp was just another conman shoveling bullshit down my windpipe. I want to test my reason, which tells me that the game is rigged and that politics is a farcical kabuki show, against a political reality with the potential to upend my theoretical understanding. If Obama ends up sucking, at least I'll know I was right all along. And if, by some amazing chance, Obama doesn't end up revealing himself to be another gutless cog in the machinery? If he does succeed in at the very least humanizing the empire, of taming it and forcing it to serve the needs of humanity and the planet and not simply profit, if we find ourselves in 2012 living in a world where Guantanamo Bay has been shut down, where quality health care is affordable for all, where we are really turning away from an carbon-based economy, where no more children are shredded by American-made cluster bombs in Baghdad or the Gaza strip...well, that sure as hell would be something, wouldn't it?

*That's straight from the mouth of Republican Representative Lynne Westmoreland, who called Obama "uppity" in a recent interview. He says he doesnt' think there's a racial connotation to that word: the cocksucker's from Georgia.

3 Comments:

Blogger Robert J. said...

one way or another, by 2012, at least we will know something. i was underwhelmed by Michelle Obama's speech because a friend of mine had hyped it up and it just seemed to cinematically romantic for me. there were parts of barack's speech that gave me goose bumps, where i caught myself believing in him, but i was very quickly tempered by cynic in me, too. it is hard to remember why, in 2004 i was so depressed when john kerry lost. john kerry is one of the biggest fucking jokes in american history, but he is also representative of many politicians.

at any rate, especially after reading your thoughts here, i don't know whether i want obama to fulfill his promises, or to be the ultimate, definitive proof in our "general fuckedness" view of the future. you're asking a lot of him, really, but i feel like anything short of the things you mention would be an utter failure.

fucked.

5:11 PM  
Blogger ryan manning said...

victory in japan

12:54 PM  
Blogger chuibreg said...

My friends, did you see Katie-Fucking-Couric tear Palin apart? My Friends, I feel like I am on the butt end of a horrible joke. My friends, my friends.

9:29 PM  

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