The International Writers Magazine: Comment
American Election Politics
As Election Day nears, the electorate is concluding that it can’t close the deal to bring the Republicans back to power in Congress, like a groom who gets cold feet right before the marriage ceremony. Marry in haste and repent at leisure.
In district after district the bride is revealing herself to be a dog. In New York, Carl Paladino is falling flat on his face in his deluded crusade to impose upstate white, working class values on downstate voters. The concept of slamming rational values and minorities that he has honed to a sharp edge in innumerable Buffalo coffee shop focus groups is crashing into a barricade of resentment and indignation like an ocean wave slamming into a sea wall. He is being shown the door like a Pee Wee Herman upstate rube in a plaid suit who has worn out his welcome in a New York saloon. Sure, we are living in a whorehouse, but nobody is interested in listening to a sermon of old-time religion delivered by a backwoods rube who is even more crooked than we are.
Paladino, who openly professes that Manhattan is his “least favorite part” of New York State, is not the only rich guy from Buffalo to try to spread the Tea Party gospel of tax and service cuts. He was preceded by Tom Golisano, another upstate genius who spent years of time and millions of dollars of his own money in an attempt to shift the center of gravity to the North Country. These idiots never learned the lessons of history, that New York City is the dog and everything from Yonkers up is the tail. The City of Buffalo is an afterthought, the end result of a process that began in 1825, when the Erie Canal, a project conceived and financed here in the City with the intent of channeling agricultural and manufacturing products from the Great Lakes through the hinterland to the Hudson River and down to the Port of New York, achieved fruition. Somewhere upstate there must be an elephants graveyard for backwoods yokels and their dreams of imposing their hick ideals on the Great Satan aka New York City.
All over the electoral map Teabag candidates are demonstrating themselves as only fit to hold office in a lunatic asylum, if not jail. Nevada’s Sharon Angle, who is trying to unseat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, is so rabid about repealing the health care law that she has advocated swapping barnyard livestock for medical services. How many chickens for a blood test?
A Teabag candidate in Florida, Allen West, has been revealed to be so deep in hock that he has got multiple liens on his finances. That’s a novel way of getting out from under – get elected and line your pockets – which is not such a farfetched business model because it has been revealed that there is no law against congressmen and their staffers trading on confidential information gained through congressional and regulatory investigations. Congress is not in any rush to pass one, either.
In Delaware, the Teabag Party has put up a first-class wacko named Catherine O’Donnell who has taken a position against masturbation. This airhead Barbie Doll, if elected to the self-described World’s Greatest Deliberative Body, would bring an element of Lindsay Lohan-style jocularity to the political scene unheard of since Richard Nixon’s nomination of Harold G. Carswell to fill a Supreme Court vacancy, which Nixon defended by declaring, “There are a lot of mediocre people in this country, and they also deserve to be represented in government”. So there!
Aaaah, Republicanism! They want to take the country back. How far back? Back to the witch hunts, red scares and blacklists of the nineteen fifties? Back to the Palmer Raids and mass deportations of immigrants of the nineteen twenties?
That’s not all. Vote in a Republican Congress and in addition to psychotic social values you get criminal racketeering behavior of the first order, including, but not limited to, incendiary deregulation of banking and industrial safety standards; ball-busting tax breaks favoring a hereditary oligarchy; filthy food; bait-and-switch mortgage interest rates that have the net effect of pauperizing huge segments of the workforce and an infinite panoply of destructive behavior that has for an end result the disintegration of an already frayed social fabric. The American electorate may not be the most reflective group of citizenry in the world, but, ultimately, they are forced to take their own interests into account whether they want to or not, and I don’t believe that they will be inclined to trust them to an electoral list that has all the earmarks of having been composed by Larry The Cable Guy.
There certainly is a current of xenophobia sweeping the land right now, presenting so many targets – Mexicans, Muslims, Chinese – that the average Teabagger, confused over the affluence of potential victims, like a kid at a Coney Island shooting gallery, cannot maintain the presence of mind to focus on any one of them. There comes a point where the scattershot approach is no longer viable, and then you reach for the assault rifle. Oh yeah, let’s not forget African Americans, who are, let’s face it, the raison d’être of the lily white Tea Party, to such an extent that one of the main sub-themes of that group’s doctrine is the elimination of food stamps. This nasty concept is derived from a eugenics tome of the early nineteen nineties with the innocuous title “The Bell Curve”, which got rave reviews from The New York Times. “The Bell Curve” purported to demonstrate statistical proof that Africans were mentally inferior to Europeans and advocated eliminating food stamps as a way to starve them out of existence. It’s an abomination, but you can’t make this stuff up.
I had a very informative conversation in a bar with an unreconstituted Spanish Phalangist who did not hesitate to express his admiration for former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, whose specialty was pitching folksingers out of helicopters to see if they could fly. This guy stated to me, unequivocally, “It is easier to be a man of the right than a man of the left because people of the right are not concerned with ideas. They are only motivated by fear”.
That attitude of blatant pro-fascism can only be summed up in the candidacy of Ohio Teabagger Rich Iott, who likes to dress up as a Nazi storm trooper and tramp through the countryside on the weekends with a few other Aryan supermen. In a lot of countries, this activity would get him indicted, but in the Teabag Party it got him nominated. Americans are not literary people, and the media has a lot of difficulty defining the motivations underlying this kind of imbecilic political expression. They mostly chalk it up to social “anger” when a harsher assessment might be more appropriate. Take your choice: hatefulness, ignorance, bloody-minded meanness, homicidal vengefulness. I don’t admire Europeans too much, but even they must stand in awe of the American electorate’s resourcefulness for innovating loathsome behavior.
Meanwhile, out in California you have what is shaping up to be the Mother of All Battles, or the war between the Tea Party and the Pot Party, with a referendum on the ballot called Proposition 19, which calls for total legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes. Polls show the measure ahead by 9 percentage points, with an appeal so strong that it is lifting all the Democratic candidates to substantial leads on its coattails. The measure has been so important to Democratic ambitions that Democrats are considering putting a similar one on the other states’ ballots in advance of the 2012 election. One thing is for sure: if California gets legal marijuana this writer is going to militate for an equal right to be instituted here in New York. Why should I get harassed and dragged into court for wanting the same rights as a Californian!
Anyway, as the election draws closer people are having to decide whether or not they really want to elect these creeps, and anecdotal evidence seems to indicate that they may be getting cold feet. You have to read between the lines, like Pravda, which is not such a strange analogy, considering the mass media is controlled by the economic oligarchy. Even though the Murdoch press, which owns the two most influential New York newspapers, The New York Post and The Wall Street Journal, is carrying on a full court campaign to convince readers that a Republican takeover of Congress is an incontrovertible certainty, at the same time small cracks of narrative are starting to creep in suggesting ominously that the Democrats may retain control, albeit by smaller margins.
Even the gridlock that Murdoch is warning about in the event of the Democrats holding onto Congress would be preferable to a Tea Party Congress. Obviously, a Democratic sweep is not going to happen, but an increased Republican presence might have the desirable effect of increasing the pressure on that party to at least negotiate in good faith and engage the issues instead of behaving like the electoral version of a Punch and Judy kids’ puppet show featuring buffoons, airhead Valley Girls and Halloween fancy dress Nazi storm troopers.
© Dean Borok Ocotober 2010
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