I am already a bit weary of presidential politics, and it’s not even September. On the one hand, the excitement around Senator Obama’s candidacy that galvanized so many to engage the body politic stands alongside worn political tropes and familiar policy initiatives. (note this NY Times article about corporate interests trumping the concerns of the unions) and (Obama’s hawkish stance on Afghanistan)
We have seen this before: an abandonment of the critical reformed-minded base of the party in the name of something called centrism. On the other hand, Senator McCain has morphed, somewhat at least, into something acceptable to the base of the Republican Party – miming the grotesque gesticulations of an administration that has tried to send American democracy to the gallows. Salon ran an excellent article about how McCain is copying Bush’s disasterous approach to dissent and free speech.
And public deliberation about the substance of each candidate, as much as we can call it that, remains, for the most part, surfaced and driven by pundits interested in a horse race and polls suggestive of a popularity contest. (see how the media reporting on the media distracts from the issues) All the while the nation continues to fall precipitously into the abyss.
Democracy has been under siege over the last eight years. And since the Reagan revolution we have witnessed the declining status of the American citizen. In the face of corporate greed and power, and the imperial ambitions of the executive branch, the nervous American subject has replaced the discerning citizen. And, I fear that our nerves are wearing thin.
We must shake off this nervousness and be ever diligent in our efforts to vet the policy initiatives of each candidate – even if one of them symbolically represents substantive change. We MUST be CITIZENS again! From Iraq to Iran to the economy to issues around race, we must wade through the muck of political double-speak in order to effect a substantive counter to the pathology of American politics. This requires, I believe, little patience for the current political theater (abroad or at home). As citizens, let’s say no to the nonsense and insist that these two men who seek to guide us in these trying times speak plainly and truthfully to the painful realities of our current days. In other words, and I mean this in the sense of the philosopher Harry Frankfurt, let’s say no to the bullsh*t.