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Tuesday, January 15, 2008


Ambient Noise

Is it just me, or is the current presidential campaign - the one that started the second following George W saying, "So help me God" - is taking on the form of the absurd. I may be cynical, but it is all so predictable. The candidates are caricatures. I do not know how the press can read their teleprompters with straight faces.

As I watched the 10 o'clock local news recap the Michigan primary this evening, it all looked ridiculous - even less interesting than the junior high election for class officers I witnessed in the early 70's. Do the promises our presidential candidates make have any more chance of coming to fruition than those of the junior high politicians? I seem to remember promises of better school lunches, more free time, and less homework.

My fellow students and I cheered wildly that political platform and voted, basking in the pride that swells when one exercises that democratic right. Innocence lost. In the back of my mind, I began to sense then what I know now. That is, there is no knight on a white horse coming to save us. That's fine though, because we don't need saved anyhow. The candidates try to become the solution to their conjured problem. All of a sudden, the US is going to hell in a hand basket. You just thought things were OK. Our only hope is candidate X. (Insert watermelon cheer here)

That's fine though. Along with a dash of disillusionment, in our stew of political understanding, we should stir in a measure of "be your own hero." Don't wait for someone to help you, help yourself. While you are at it, help someone along the way too.

The actors in this presidential sweepstakes (hmmm a mixed metaphor). The contestants in this political production (ooops I did it again). I mean the horses asses in this presidential race probably meant well at some point in their journey. Deep down, I would like to believe they are good folks who want to serve the country. Unfortunately, funny things happen to a sincere person on the way to the White House. Can you say prostitution? Before they are elected they sell themselves for votes. They shamelessly kiss any ass they can. The patronizing they do makes Eddie Haskel look like a sincere fellow.

In Braveheart, Mel Gibson's character told the young nobleman that people would follow a leader that had real conviction. Instead, politicians see the office as a prize to win instead of a byproduct of good ideas, conviction, and leadership. I so long to hear an original thought from a candidate. A thought that has not already passed through the scrutiny of focus groups to be shaped into something calculated for political advantage. Lord, never let the people know what you really think.

Ronald Reagan, where are you? Like him or not, he could tell a joke and his answers to the press were not canned talking points. He spoke from the heart.

The intellectual dishonesty, the way they reduce complex subjects to sound bites designed to make the evening news results in the presidential race having no more substance than a beauty contest. Can you say Miss South Carolina? She is sounding more intelligent every day.

I detest so many other things about the process. For instance, if you do not care for Barak Obama you must be a racist. If you do not like Hilary, you are a sexist. However, if you like Huckabee, then you are a far right religious kook.

It is our process however and our vote is a powerful thing. Maybe we have what we have because so many people do not vote and the ones who do pay more attention to the package than they do its contents. We can demand the news coverage is more about issues than “gotcha.” We can educate ourselves on the issues and make those aspiring to lead us speak to them. Or we can bend over, grab our ankles and brace for the alternative.

It is after all up to you and me.

Until the next time
John Strain