Sunday, September 07, 2008

American Politics as Dr. Feelgood

You've been feeling down, seem to have a mass in your abdomen, and are having problems with defecation. So, you go to one doctor who examines you and tells you you have a tumor and must undergo serious, perhaps life-threatening surgery. So, you go to a second doctor who, after examining you, tells you it is nothing to be worried about, gives you a laxative and some pain pills and tells you to come back in 2 weeks if things don't get better.

If you are like the typical American, you accept the second diagnosis without further question, take the laxative and load up on pain pills. The American electorate hates nothing more than being told any “inconvenient truths”. We, the electorate, want to be told that, as in Lake Wobegon, “...all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average.” We certainly don't want to hear that we have been serially lied to and misled by both parties. We don't want to hear that, through our profligate lifestyle, we may well have fatally damaged our biosphere, that to even think about remedying that damage we will have to seriously change our evil ways. This obvious obliviousness is best demonstrated by the chant of “Drill! Drill everywhere! Drill offshore! Drill in ANWR! Drill! Drill! Drill!” As has been perhaps best illustrated by Sarah Palin who, like most of her Alaskan neighbors, is 4 square behind drilling in ANWR, ignore the fact that, at best, this would only temporarily and slightly ease the problem of gasoline prices, if at all. Even more distressing, that drilling and the continued and increased use of hydrocarbons will only worsen the climatic problems that are already being evidenced. Palin has no problem whatsoever in dooming the polar bears to extinction, as a matter of fact, she has been a solid supporter of mounting legal challenges to the designation of polar bears as endangered species. Additionally, she has offered up a bounty of $150 per wolf killed (they tend to prey upon the moose and caribou she so loves to hunt).

Americans love to have their egos stroked, especially by their political “leaders” by being told that they are “exceptional” as in “American exceptionalism”. It would be useful if we actually looked at the definition of the word first:



\ik-ˈsep-shnəl, -shə-nəl\

1: forming an exception : rare

2: better than average : superior

3: deviating from the norm: as a: having above or below average intelligence b: physically disabled~ Merriam-Webster

Of course, we like to believe that we fall into the first 2 definitions of the word, however, we should realize that “exceptional” also means:

Synonyms: aberrant, abnormal, atypical...

We always want to hear our politicians sing paeans to the “exceptional” America where “...God shed his grace on thee, And crown thy good with brotherhood, From sea to shining sea!” and damn all those who would bring up such “minor” aberrations as the genocide and ethnic cleansing of the Native population, chattel slavery, manufactured wars (Mexican-American and Spanish-American) to facilitate land theft, etc. We certainly don't want to be told that any of our actions in our entire history have been anything other than beneficent. Of course, all of our wars, military incursions, sponsored coups, assassinations and other actions have always been for the benefit of others; never for the benefit of ourselves or the real owners of the political system, the wealthy and mega-corporations.

On those rare occasions when a politician does tell the American people the inconvenient truth, the American electorate immediately turns their back on that politician and raptly follows the current Pied Piper who will tickle their ego; even if this consists of pandering to the very basest of our predilections. And, like the patient who goes doctor shopping to find one who will tell them everything is OK, just take these pills and call me back later, we will be terminally surprised when we find ourselves dead on a slab because the “inconvenient” diagnosis of a tumor was correct all along.

Byzantine Blog