Sunday, October 05, 2008

Obama vs. McCain: A Votebot Perspective

Aug/Sept 08 Grassroots Press column:

This time I’d like to share some observations from my vantage point high in the left field bleachers. The air is thin up here, but we have a perfect view of the all-too-predicable game being played on the field below.

Let’s start with this year’s presidential election. Those of us who paid attention in the years after Obama’s famous speech at the 2004 Democratic Convention learned not to expect too much from him. To be sure, he’s a brilliant politician, and as charismatic as they come. There’s a lot to like about him – he can speak in complete paragraphs, for example, unlike certain brain-challenged politicians who would best be left unmentioned. But he’s also very cautious, very corporate, and very safe... which is why he’s electable at all. Unfortunately, our corrupt and sclerotic political system is designed to prevent the election of the bold, decisive leadership we desperately need.

Since my last full report over a year ago, the Big Four clusterfucks (global warming, peak oil, the economic meltdown, and the authoritarian takeover) are all considerably worse – which is not surprising, given the fact that we are prevented from taking decisive action by the powers-that-be. Clearly, our ruling class is bent on creating a major opportunity for them to try out the Shock Doctrine on us. What they envision is a crisis so severe that Americans will give up just about everything in exchange for a little perceived "security." A gas shortage will do it. Or a terrorist attack. There are many possible "triggers." When the Shock Doctrine is applied, the zillionaires will get even richer and more powerful, while everybody else will have to sacrifice their freedom and fortune "for the good of all." Unless a mass personality transplant takes place before then, the passive and compliant American people will probably accept whatever fate is imposed upon them.

Why, then, bother to vote at all? This is a good question. I can only speak for myself, and my excuse, I blush to say, is...... I’m a votebot. (There! I finally said it! What a relief! Hallelujah, I’m out of the closet at last!) Yes, I’m a votebot. I make no excuses: I’m an automaton. I can’t help myself. I’m programmed to always vote for the lesser of two evils. I’m absolutely dependable: I’ll always vote, and I’ll always vote for the lesser evil. In this case, it took my internal programming less than a millisecond to tell me that I’m going to vote for Obama in November. Because no matter how badly Obama might betray my left-field-bleacher values, McCain is unspeakably worse.

The corporate media will always give McCain a pass on just about everything, while holding Obama to an impossibly high standard. (You have probably noticed that the high-profile television pundits and newscasters, almost without exception, are insufferable, self-absorbed morons. This is not an accident. Being a self-absorbed moron is a job requirement for working in the higher echelons of corporate television. Their motto is, "Under our watch, the boat will not be rocked!" ) Corporate television has decreed that McCain’s captivity and torture are sacred, and will be sucked up to at all times. Well, the truth is (and this is why people like me will never be on TV): We shouldn’t have been bombing Vietnam in the first place. McCain should never have been put in a position to be shot down, imprisoned, and tortured. It’s a tragedy that he was forced to spend a critical chunk of his young adulthood locked up in a hellhole like that, but what about all the innocent Vietnamese he killed with his bombs? Why are the murdered Vietnamese never mentioned? Obviously, we will never hear this point of view on TV. Why do we see the usual gang of idiots day after day, but seldom anybody as intelligent and articulate as, say, Michael Moore? How can they call it a "free press" when points of view not authorized by the ruling class are systematically excluded? It looks like tyranny to me. The ruling class retains its death grip on what passes for public discourse in this country, the authorized message remains tightly controlled, and so far the Internet has been unable to match corporate television’s propaganda power.

The ruling class is not to be trifled with. For those of us with long memories, it’s instructive to remember what happened to John Edwards earlier this year. Though a flawed candidate, Edwards was the choice of myself and most of my cohort, because he spoke truth to power a little bit. For this reason, the corporate media brought him down. It was trivially simple: they simply ignored his ass, and before long his funding dried up and he had to drop out. Even the pollsters ignored him, turning the campaign into a race between the two corporate candidates, Hillary and Obama. And there wasn’t a damn thing Edwards could do about it.

From the corporate point of view, Obama has always been a safe candidate, else he would never have gotten this far. His hard right turn after finally defeating Hillary was totally predictable. This has tended to deflate the enthusiasm from the left flank, but as a votebot I’ll vote for him anyway. I’ll even send him money and put up a yard sign – McCain is that bad. (As with Bush, it would be an insult to my very existence to have McCain as president.) And frankly, I’m curious to see what an Obama presidency would look like. Obviously, he has to do whatever he deems necessary to get elected. First things first, and all that. Then, perhaps – you never know – he could become the Roosevelt of our era; our desperate situation certainly cries for it. His presidency will be a struggle, that’s for sure. No matter how conciliatory Obama may be, the corporate media and right-wing noise machine will eat him alive (they already are). They’ll be fully ramped up in ballistic hyperdrive attack mode from the moment the election returns come in. The hue and cry from the right will be shrill and unrelenting. Obama and his fellow Spelunkers (they always cave) will find it difficult to accomplish what they want. And in the meantime, our planet is rapidly going down the tubes.

Which brings us, once again, to global warming and environmental destruction in general. The following situation sums it all up for me: For years now we have been asked to (if it’s not too much trouble) please consider the possibility of perhaps someday, if convenient, contemplating the concept of maybe installing a compact fluorescent bulb or two, that is, if it doesn’t inconvenience us too much. In the meantime, last I heard, the Chinese are still building a new coal-fired power plant every week. The imbalance here is staggering. Our efforts at sustainability remain pitiful after all these decades -- not only because most Americans have been asleep, but because the ruling class won’t allow significant change to happen. We have been trained to be satisfied with baubles and trinkets.

On a more local level, every time I pass one of the shiny new housing developments now ringing Las Cruces, I wonder how the mortgage owners intend to pay off their mortgages when the economy finally tanks. (Remedial Economics 101: You own your home after you have paid off the mortgage. Until then, you are a mere mortgage owner, as the multitudes of foreclosed-upon are learning to their dismay.) Few Americans have yet woken up to the fact that pretty much everything in our modern consumer world is predicated on a future that no longer exists. The days of unlimited energy are over, and the economy has already been gutted by the ruling class. Even white guys in suits are sounding the alarm, and in America, nobody’s got higher credibility than white guys in suits. The good news is: the inevitable financial collapse, if it happens soon enough, might be the last-gasp opportunity to save the planet we once knew. People will not voluntarily slow down; it will have to be imposed upon them. A massive financial meltdown might put enough of a damper on our frantic destruction to allow an eventual return to some degree of normalcy.

If the situation is so unsatisfactory, then why bother to speak at all? I ask myself this question all the time. After all, goes the conventional wisdom, if you can’t say anything positive, then don’t say anything at all. But saying nothing cedes the field to the deluded and the snake oil salesmen, as well as to the very nice people who shrink from the harshness of our predicament. The truth may be ugly, but as supposedly rational beings, accurate information must remain our starting point for any kind of meaningful action... though there’s an excellent chance that our opportunity for meaningful action has already passed. In which case I would rather be a clear and honest witness, using every shred of my consciousness and intelligence, than to be blinded by wishful thinking.

In the greater scheme of things, is the death of a planet really all that important? Everything within our space-time continuum – in other words, the universe itself – is temporary. As individuals, part of our spiritual growth – especially as we get older – is to come to terms with death. The death of ourselves, the death of our civilization, the death of our planet, the death of our universe – life and death are the irreducible yin and yang of our existence. It looks like I’m starting to get all mystical again. Next issue I’ll muck about within this realm and see if there are any conclusions to be drawn.

("It’s summertime and the livin’s still easy," says our author, who is still hugging his trees and milking his bees on the bank of the Rio Grande near Radium Springs. And just between you and me -- don’t let him know I told you -- he still hopes there’s hope.)


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