(Article changed on January 18, 2014 at 12:32)
I was listening to a discussion on NPR last night. People were debating the 2016 presidential race. The consensus was, the race would be between Chris Christie and Hillary Rodham Clinton. The conversation brought to mind an item I had read from Dean Obeidallah , on The Daily Beast.
He wrote, " Let's be brutally honest. If a Republican wins the presidency in 2016, the payback from Democrats will be vicious. I'm talking about something out of a Quentin Tarantino movie. And if a Democrat wins, especially Hillary Clinton, we can expect to see more of what Obama has been made to endure. That translates into more gridlock in Washington, which is bad for the rest of us."
Let's see, add this to Lawrence Lessig's contention that "if a candidate can't please the funders, they're not likely to get a chance to please the voters," and the funders are about 0.05 percent of Americans and that 99 Americans or .000032 percent gave 60 percent of the individual SuperPAC money spent in the 2012 cycle, and Republicans enjoy a 33-seat margin in the U.S. House, even though over one million more votes were cast for Democratic House candidates because of gerrymandering, and lest we forget, Bush II was appointed President by the Supreme Court, two retirees of which have admitted their mistake; a mistake, the majority of Americans have known from the beginning.
So once again, tell me we still have a functioning democracy. Tell me why I should even debate the issues. Tell me why I should dialogue with people barely conscious enough to repeat the memes they hear in whatever echo chamber they dwell.
How far down the slippery slope have we slithered when the ex-half term governor of Alaska and the wealthy bloviator from Cape Girardeau, MO are granted as much attention as the pope on matters of religion? When the extremes of the Christian right can convince believers that Jesus, a devout Jew, who never heard the word Christ or the idea of Christianity, has become a champion of capitalism and loves us above all others. When the Republican party's propaganda arm, thinly disguised as a news channel named Fox, wins the highest viewer ratings.
The American illusion of a representative democracy has strayed too far from the reality. Regardless of what he or she says during elections, no individual politician's promises will ever shape his or her party's platform. Collaboration for the benefit of our society is an obsolete concept.
The days of dialogue are over and with their demise, the art of compromise is dead and gone. It's all about winning elections and raising the money to do it again. It's all about imposing an ideology on the great unwashed in the interests of sustaining a fading artifice called the real America.
We are deeply into what postmodernist and French cultural theorist, Jean Baudrillard termed a third stage simulation. "It masks the absence of a profound reality, where the simulacrum pretends to be a faithful copy, but it is a copy with no original."
In simpler terms, the map, as simulacrum, has become the only reality; the map being the artifice, so vehemently debated in the public narrative.
How could we not be lost? Even the original artifice of that past America was an unfaithful simulation for many marginalized people. Ask any black American. Ask any recent brown skinned immigrant. Ask any real Native American. But beware: Don't ask the European American who proudly proclaims to be 1/64th American Indian, so he can feel better about his distorted sense of being a true American.
No, the illusion that was America never truly existed and now we only have a simulation of an illusion that never existed. Can we get further away from reality?
Want a hint about our future? Read Borges' one paragraph book On Exactitude in Science .
Robert De Filippis