Tonight I'm listening to fiddlers and warming myself by the glow of the burning Republic. You?

>> Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Hoo, boy, I'm not looking forward to listening to this thing, and yet I feel it's my civic duty for some reason.  Charles Pierce (or maybe his editor, whoever writes his headlines) is right that this is a debate where "Bullshit Is Now the Status Quo" and gives a fair summary of what we those of us listening or watching can expect to endure.  He's far too sanguine, however, about the odds of anyone ambushing the candidates with a chance to be authentic--especially in light of the Memorandum Of Understanding concerning the debates that showed up on Gawker yesterday.

I don't know that it's too early to call time-of-death on our form of democracy.  That's probably just a mood I'm in.  But what we have, yeah, really seems pretty lousy at this point.  What we've cobbled together is some kind of weird, weighted popularity contest where nobody's vote actually counts except insofar as it chooses whose vote does count.  The candidates we get stuck with are basically people who don't actually represent anybody in particular, unless its the ugly crowd of unideological partisans who mostly care about politics in the same kind of way some people care about sports--all it's about is whose team wins the pennant, and sod any deeper point behind the so-called game.  But what hurts me worst of all is the notion I'm finding myself embracing more and more that the biggest problem with our democracy is that democracy might be an inherently bad system of governance; as much as I pride myself on being an egalitarian and populist and all that, I can't escape the looming idea that some people really don't deserve to vote.

I'm not even talking about people who disagree with me.  I'm talking about all these "undecideds" I keep hearing interviewed who don't even have the faintest clue what they're talking about, these people who clearly don't understand the issues at all.  These people who make America's Founders look not only wise, but principled for originally creating a system of government that deliberately disenfranchised the rabble and mob from the outset, giving them a voice in the least-important sub-branch of government and leaving it to the elites to choose the Senate, President and Judiciary.  And I hate even saying this kind of thing, y'know, because I want to be Mr. Inclusive, who gives a voice to everybody.  I just don't know if I understood that some people might be simply too stupid to be heard.  What a horrible, pompous thing for me to end up writing.

The so-called "town hall meeting" tonight, with its vetted questions and lack of interaction between the candidates and public, candidates and moderator, candidate and candidate, is all about the candidates selling themselves to this segment of the population.  And it will be nothing but cheap shots and smokescreens.  Romney is apt to talk about the September 11th attack on Americans in Benghazi, even though the story is still emerging; the President has said he'll talk about Bain Capital, even though he won't touch the real issue, which isn't that Mitt Romney successfully exploited what is allowed by our legal and fiscal regime, but rather the fact that this legal and financial framework where a business or person can get rich by leveraging debt without producing anything of lasting value--i.e. we possibly should be hating the game, not the player, but the Democratic Party is far too dependent on corporate support to issue forth a Rooseveltian (Theodore or Franklin, take your pick or choose both, even) indictment--much less a Marxist one--of what the American economy has turned into.

(I am starting to think that Romney's tenure at Bain--whenever, however it ended--is a kind of dead trail, actually.  Because aside from the murkiness of Romney's tax return issues, it's reasonable to assume most of what Bain did, maybe even all of it, was perfectly legal.  So the question then is whether getting rich off of something that's legal but maybe amoral, or arguably even immoral, makes you a shit because you chose to participate.  And we already have plenty of evidence Romney's a shit, whether it's the Seamus story, or the high school bullying, or the dodges and reversals he's made along the course of his political career while trying to say what he thinks a majority bloc of voters will stand for.  It may well be that Bain Capital was actually the most fair and aboveboard thing Mitt Romney has ever associated himself with or accomplished, and then you're left with a pure value judgement re: whether gaming a broken system is an indicator of impoverished ethics or merely the American way, if that's an authentic dichotomy at all, even.)

I'm just depressed by the whole damned thing.


Leanright,  Tuesday, October 16, 2012 at 3:26:00 PM EDT  

Although I disagree with your assessment of Romney, I DO agree with your thoughts on the "undecideds".

There really are clear differences between the two candidates at this point, and for quite some time! How on earth someone hasn't chosen their candidate by now is beyond me, regardless of political beliefs.

I have a difficult time believing that the fate of our nation comes down to the middle five percent of Honey Boo Boo fans, who've do NO homework on the issues that they care about. Flabbergasting!

We should just flip a coin if that's the case.

Steve Buchheit Tuesday, October 16, 2012 at 7:46:00 PM EDT  

Well, mostly it's because a large percentage of people in this country really just don't give a flying fig about politics and don't pay attention to the news. It's really true.

And if the Republic is burning, it's time to make s'mores. Hmmm, graham crackery chocolate goodness tinged with the tears of humanity.

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