If we wait a few hours, or a day, the results would be known. But now pundits talk knowingly of the forces, the moods, the makeup of the candidate candidates, and a lot more. These experts have invented a whole new language to discuss all the manipulations and guesses about us, the people-- we who eventually will vote.
We are "demographies" which puts us in a tight category: woman, early twenties, white, Catholic, self-employed, lives alone in an expensive flat, urban. I can see this as one cell in a very complex graph. Her lover is probably in a totally different block in the graph: male, mixed race, rural background now urban, professional, big earner, careful spender, etc.
Very clever, of course, of those pollsters to make all those fine distinctions, but they sell that information to advertisers, and now to the people who are "managing" a political campaign, so that the speech writers can insert a word, take out another, for the eager politician who actually wants to be president of the United States of America (yes, that is required -- every three sentences you say that, in full, the United States of America with great fe-e-e-eling).
The speeches are scientifically created to snare us, and may have absolutely nothing to do with what the person actually would do, be able to do, wants to do, once he or she is president. Isn't that what we have seen these last seven years? Our current president is not the person he was, or showed us, in 2000, when almost half of the half of the people voted for him. But that is too long ago to remember; that election swept by in a few months, as I remember, certainly not more than a year, as this one. This year it is becoming more and more obvious that the candidates fighting to become the one candidate of their respective party, are groomed, trained and primed by teams of experts. To me that says that I cannot know who this woman or man really is, and I am very unsure how any of them will function after the national election,
As I think about all of that, it occurs to me that real democracy--individuals having a voice in what is decided by the chief-- cannot exist in a country of 300 million people, multi-ethnic, multi-racial, with widely distinct feelings and opinions, if they have opinions at all, about things they cannot possibly know much about.
Participation of We The People can and did exist in the first days of The USA perhaps, and a different form of it existed in many indigenous societies I knew. Democracy works in a village, not in a mega-city of many millions, let alone in a huge country. We decided (did we?) that "democracy" means the will of a majority, half plus one. Or even only half plus one of those who bothered to vote (which can mean as little as a small percentage of all the people. And counting votes becomes very important, and therefor full of opportunities to twist statistics.
The indigenous people I knew thought important decisions should include the will of all people. It sometimes took a while, but eventually, all agreed on a certain course. That system worked to keep peace for long times. And, incidentally, even in Muslim countries, women were never excluded in times of considering, thinking about, talking about, important issues.
That was an aside. We do not, cannot, question whether what we are doing is democratic. We are told what to think by the Media and the many layers of governments and other authorities we have created. Elections today have become scientifically conducted campaigns. Leading up to the real election that takes place in November, there is an even fiercer battle between the two candidates who represent the two parties. No compromises, no coalitions. And we the people will be locked in for another four years, for better or for worse with one of the parties in the White House, and a mixture of parties in both chambers of Congress.
Today was one of those days when the radio cut into snatches and bits of speeches that the four candidate for candidate were giving. (And I did not see, I only heard -- not TV, just radio.) I kept thinking what kind of person can do that sort of yelling all day, every day. He must want that throne really badly. How else put yourself so on a pedestal. Clinton talks about being in the home of the woman who... I imagine her handlers want to suggest she is one of the people. I can just imagine her in an "ordinary" person's home: flash bulbs flashing, a whole entourage (including security with dark glasses and hidden guns) crowded into a small room, the rest of the swarm outside, bored with the whole frantic enterprise. The candidate for candidate utters some platitudes, she smiles, shakes hands, and on her way to somewhere else in a caravan of buses, trucks, and vans.
Obama talks about "we": all the Democrats, but also Independents, and, why not, also an occasional disenchanted Republican. Sounds wonderful, and for a moment I saw the vision. But reality set in almost immediately. McCain talks like a normal person, he did not yell and scream. Do they read from a script? With him I had the impression that when people burst out in applause, he kept his finger on the last word in order to remember how to continue the sentence. But what he said was said in my language.
He did not pretend to be superman (or super woman, of course). As the announcer said, afterwards, "obviously he is a man who has lived; he has learned." Nothing that he said in that small fragment seemed conservative to me. In fact, it sounded much as the Democrats sounded forty years ago. That is also what the Republican "core" does not like: he is not conservative enough. And Huckabee, I have only heard him when he talked out of the Bible.
Now, after the radio hour, when it is quiet here, only the little frogs and crickets are making a soft concert outside,
I think about what a new president is supposed to do less than a year from now. Can anyone really clean up, undo, or fix the awful mistakes that were made these last seven, eigtht, years? And also make friends with the world again. And at the same time also get Universal Coverage-- not Universal Health Care. Coverage implies that, obviously, in America health care must rely on insurance. How else could you afford health care?
Wake up, America, they've had universal health care for generations in many countries of Europe without insurance companies skimming the top ten percent of anything that is flowed through their computers. But it is indeed an entirely different setup. Everything medical is included, teeth and eyes are included, prevention and education (how to be and stay healthy), sometimes even non-western healing modalities;. And who knows, probably with a minimum of paperwork. I know that in one country someone who had just become a physician could not just open a practice. He was given a choice between however many places, neighborhoods, villages, in different part of the country, needed a doctor.
That was many years ago, however; have no idea whether that system still is in place. Here perhaps half the population of this island must depend on the doctors on this side, all in the same city, many of them in the same buildings. A lot of time and driving for a ten minute appointment if you can find a physician who takes new patients, (This is the poor side of the island, on the other side there is no shortage of doctors). And, of course, we take all of this for granted, no insurance covers everything. One needs at least three or more separate insurances to be "covered," out of the rain, so to speak.
I find it difficult to accept our kind of brutal capitalism, organized to reward enterprise at the cost of efficiency and economy -- and, most importantly, at the cost of sustainability. When you insert insurance companies into the health industries, of course it all gets more expensive.
When you allow and encourage more and more specialization and elaborate technology, and tolerate drug companies that charge what the market can barely bear, it is going to cost at least twice what it costs in other countries.
The health industry is not the only "service" that is serving the providers more than the recipients of the service. All services are, or will soon be, mega industries.
As the system compresses people's ability to prosper so that large industries may profit, that population is greatly stressed. Action-reaction. I cannot avoid seeing that at some point in time we the people will rise up. There Will Be Blood, as the movie says.
But I digress. An hour after hearing all those flashes of political speech and chewing the cud of this strategy and that to "gain access" to a certain, very finely defined, "demography" (meaning group of people), "to move this kind of voter," also very finely described-- all talk that has faded into a blurred darkness. What is left is my feeling of being lost in mazes of manipulation. I don't like to be manipulated.
Listening to the excitement of the crowds, I imagine that the people who attend these meetings really feel, believe, what the speaker promises. They are spellbound, they want to believe. We all want to believe that there is something better. That is why so many people--more than the experts expected--have taken part in these pre-elections and caucuses. All of us yearn for better times, more honest government, less secretive, less manipulating. We want to feel adult, responsible, not will-less puppets to be shoved this way and that.
These pre-elections that give the Media a feeding frenzy, have become a show. Written and directed by expert psychologists of a certain kind, paid for by some of us, but mostly by Big Money. The characters are straight out of ancient Greece, all of them more than life-sized, at least semi-gods.
The Woman -- women are more nurturing, kinder, not burdened with testosterone aggression. And this woman knows the world of politics and money; once she was Queen to her husband the King. Now she wants the throne, making her ex-king husband first Gentleman?
Then there is the knight in shiny armor, exotic, with a tinge of mystery, galloping from behind but quickly leading the pack, his youthful vigor promising a new age, his arms spread wide, Ye All Included!
The wise man, whose heroic suffering makes him trustworthy. He speaks to the middle, the settled, the thoughtful.
And in the corner the preacher, playing the role that denies role: Joker, the one who can be anyone, in times of Kings and Courts, he was the only one who could speak the truth without being punished.
Each player has his o her chorus, loudly shouting praises.
The audience seated in the steeply tiered stadium, the rich and powerful on chairs close to the stage, the common people at the highest levels, farthest from the stage, trades men and their women in the middle.
The stage: the corporate board room, domain of the rich and hyper-rich who run the world. Behind closed doors they are the ones who put the finger on the aspirant who is the one trusted to make the powerful more powerful, and keep the rabble down. Their vote is the determining vote. This play is a Tragedy, after all.
And for the time the play plays, the flood lights on, we cling to the hope that a person can stand up against the forces that shape the destiny of the planet, The rabble shouts for the man or woman to lead us to a dream, any dream.
robert wolff © 2008