The Sound of Silence


casablanca31.jpgIt’s hard for me to imagine an intelligent person of conscience not being dismayed by the spectacle of the current race for President. However, my expectations concerning what folks will or will not put up with have been continually challenged during the last seven years. Be that as it may, the disgrace of electoral politics is never more evident than in a time of real crisis such as now.

It’s obvious, first of all, that television news is nothing more than a sham, intellectually and morally bankrupt beyond calculation. To watch the news on TV is to be sucked into a dizzying vortex of unreality. The immaculately coiffed fools who “anchor” the news and present us with their opinions seem to think that there is nothing more vital for us to know than who is ahead or behind, what strategies the candidates are employing to get ahead or avoid falling behind, and what is going to happen next ahead- or behind-wise. That anything could possibly be at stake other than the status of an insider’s scorecard seems not to have entered what passes for their minds. The idea that any of this is entertaining—given, after all, that the entertainment divisions have absorbed the news departments into their bloated, celebrity-obsessed maws—is in itself ludicrous. To understand what the candidates actually stand for in any detail is impossible. The talking heads will continue to jabber over the snippets of footage of candidate’s speeches, telling us again about the many variation of “ahead” or “behind,” etc., and the candidates have long ago bought into this themselves, saying very little if anything outside of the most generalized bits of inspirational rhetoric.

Let us turn to the candidates, then, and try to hear them outside of the TV prism. What I hear most of all is the sound of silence. The depredations committed by the current White House occupant are rarely mentioned. The horrifying carnage wreaked on the people of Iraq is never acknowledged. The war is treated like some sort of embarrassing domestic problem that we have to tiptoe around for fear of upsetting right-wing nutjobs. The fact that the Cheney-Bush administration has sought to draw us into the sinkhole of their perversions with torture, illegal detentions, and illegal spying on American citizens, provokes no outrage whatsoever, in fact barely a mention unless it’s to applaud the degradation of our souls as Romney, Huckabee, and Guiliani have done, or utter mild reproofs like McCain (who nevertheless supports the criminal occupation with regular bleatings of “We’re winning!” and “The surge is working!”). The corruption that is laying waste to our society, from the Justice Department to FEMA to the Abramoff and Plame affairs to countless others, including the sacking of the U.S. Treasury by licensed military contractors, is met with complete and total silence. Corruption does not even register as an issue.

Silence, many of you may know, equals complicity. There is a hell of a lot of complicity going around.

It’s hard to conceive of a more ghoulish group of pandering hate-filled liars than the Republican candidates, who seem to be competing to see who can be a bigger fascist. To elect any one of them to the White House would sound the death knell for any hopes of improvement. The press dutifully reports on their candidacies because, after all, they’re the Republican candidates. Outside of a Washington cocktail party, one can’t escape the conviction that a fair election should trounce any one of these bozos into the dirt and deliver a landslide to the Democrats. But a greater silence envelops this conviction—the poisonous stench of rigged elections. Karl Rove, one of the most revolting American political figures to ever crawl out from under a rock, has left an odious legacy, to the Republicans and thereby to all of us who suffer their antics. Their way to victory is to suppress the vote by any means available. They’ve done it, they continue to do it, and they’ll try their best to do it again—yet virtually no one in the mainstream talks about it.

The Democratic candidates inspire more complicated feelings: disappointment, impatience, frustration, betrayal. What kind of hell are we in that the opposition party spends so little time opposing the manifest corruption and criminality of the White House and its enablers? No one in the field possesses even the minor virtue of eloquence—the ability to step outside the cliché-ridden political discourse and speak truth directly and powerfully, with an appreciation of the crisis we are in, and the courage and decency to appeal to our better natures. Servile fear inhibits the candidates, fear of losing the confidence of their corporate sponsors, fear of rocking the boat.

I watched Obama’s speeches after Iowa and New Hampshire. The pundits gushed over his rhetoric. What I heard was a stringing together of inspirational phrases without point or substance. The word “change” became a mantra that is supposed to unite us, but I fail to see the meaning of change without an overt declaration of what exactly the mess is that we want to change, and why. It is impossible to predict from his rhetoric how Obama would actually govern. It’s a given that he would be a vast improvement over Bush—any non-fascist with a mind and a heart would be—but I wonder how much the imperative of the national security state would dictate his actions, or if he would ever have the nerve to challenge the Wall Street-Pentagon axis.

Clinton is establishment through-and-through. The DLC and other centrist Democrats who feed at the corporate trough and try to out-conservative the conservatives are backing her, just as they backed her husband. President Clinton did nothing for progressives—his impersonation of a “liberal” is due entirely to the actions of his Republican enemies and not to his own actions as President. If you like globalization, old-style imperialism, and losing both houses of Congress to the Republicans, than with Hillary Clinton you’ll get more of the same. I’m sorry, but the fact that she’s a woman is not enough. Margaret Thatcher was also a woman.

Edwards is not so much out of the mainstream of establishment thinking as the media or the Republicans would have you believe. The same doubts surround his eventual governance as Obama’s. For what it’s worth, though (which isn’t much), I plan to vote for him in my state’s primary. Why? Because he’s the only one talking about inequality. And as long as huge economic inequality is encouraged by the political elites, favoring a tiny master class over the rest of us, all other reforms will be stopped dead in the water. I have no illusions—Edwards’ stand against gay marriage pisses me off mightily. But at the present time, he’s the one viable candidate that scares the corporate puppet masters, and that’s enough to get my vote, at least for now.

It is absolutely imperative that the Republicans lose the White House. The probable effect on the Supreme Court of another Republican president, to mention only one factor, is enough to force me to vote for whomever wins the Democratic nomination. We rightly deride the “lesser of two evils” as a corrupting electoral yardstick, but the War of Terror being waged on us (and if you think you’re not the target of this war, you’re either a fascist or a fool) makes the choices utterly stark. We can elect a more conventional establishment President who is still part of the corporate system, or we can slide further into the outrageous crime and despotism that already threatens to engulf us beyond reprieve.

What hopes I have (abashed as I am to even admit any remaining hopes for our political life) rest on an increasingly outraged citizenry. For the first time in my memory, the majority of the people are showing themselves as smarter and more compassionate than their so-called leaders. That needs to be sustained and increased. Ultimately, the White House needs to become less powerful. We need to stop being fascinated by Presidential elections, and the media-induced aura of unconditional respect for whomever is President needs to be dissipated. Representative government requires a re-thinking of the Executive branch—no more kings, emperors or righteous “deciders,” but just servants of the people. This mindless, fascistic “commander in chief” mentality needs to be cut down to human size if we are to survive as humans.


~ by cdash on January 26, 2008.

8 Responses to “The Sound of Silence”

  1. Hey, what’s wrong with a head and some behind? Oh, you’re talking about getting our heads numbed by droning idiocy while we get it in the ass.

    That is one thing – among 40 zillion of varying degrees – that really boils my fucking potato: the Dems are not hammering these criminals at EVERY opportunity. If they would have been, then perhaps Bush and Cheney and Rummy and Wolfie would be the rotting albatross hanging around the collective neck of that group of ghouls the GOP trots out every “debate.”

    Guess what? When they hand you scandal after crime after immorality (of the non-religious kind, sorry, Jesus heads and wearers of magical underpants), push them down, kick them, then put your boot on their neck until they give up and scurry off to serve their jail terms. And I’m sick of being told by talking hairpieces, supposed leaders and partisan Dems that it’s a waste of time, we have to concentrate on other crap, blah blah blah.

    Fine, don’t talk about it, let it pass as you said, then in 2012, when all these bloody messes still haven’t been cleaned up because only Superman or Gandalf could’ve fixed it, the soulless media hacks will harp on why he or she couldn’t fix it, which shows a lack of strength, so vote for the Republican.

    And your last paragraph is lovely. NO ONE ON THE ENTIRE PLANET SHOULD EVER GET UNCONDITIONAL RESPECT. The president? He’s a civil servant. Guess what? So am I. (no, really) I haven’t illegally invaded another nation. I haven’t violated the constitution on a daily basis. I’m not spying on you. I’m not mortgaging the economic future so war profiteers and oil men can make a buck. Where’s my fucking automatic respect? You want to live in that world, invent a time machine and go back to the middle ages, m’lord.

    Great post, but you fuckers at this place always make me end up angry. 🙂

  2. Great, great post. The filters and narratives imposed by the MSM are bad enough, to be sure. But the candidates themselves have proven to be just as vapid, petty, and lame, giving BushCo a free pass. You’ve made several excellent points in this post and articulated very well the frustration that I’ve been feeling with our choices for the Dem nominee.

  3. All the candidates, win or lose, will still hunker down at the same bar and get drunk together….try to hear their conversation-‘wait till we get a shot at the treasury’
    Usual suspects.
    Candidates are so far removed from the everyday reality of the average American.
    Imagine jetting around all day dispening a blend of politically correct half-truths on issues that will never really touch you. Issues that you really could give a fuck about.
    You gotta deal with some smarmy Harvard grad scripting your responses…answering truthfully, honestly will leave you to the perfect scrutiny of an imperfect idealistic media monster that fights a phony product placement war and you are one of the weapons.
    Presidential candidates are in a whirlwind…they are special people.
    Like the guy who runs for President in Highschool.
    On Steroids.

  4. Dashiell:

    I liked your post very much. You’ve encapsulated my read on this perfectly. All of the comments have also been on point and nicely expressed.

    Perhaps, because I’m less invested in this election (or perhaps because I’m more invested!) than you all are, I don’t worry so much about the vacuity of the media or the politicians and handlers. The fog of bullshit makes my pay closer attention to the words themselves, which is why I’m so anti-Obama. The man doesn’t speak English. His sentences obey a traditional structure of subject-predicate-object-modifiers and are pronounced clearly without discernable regional acccent but in sum have no meaning. He might as well get up there and intone: “The donut ate the magnificent subway train.”

    I am well-aware that Clinton is a center-right candidate.

    So, has been Edwards until, like, a few months ago. I believe Al Gore, Jr., has CHANGED has ideology. I do not believe Edwards has.

    The Republicans, indeed, are all bad. But if Democrats buy into this “non-partisan” crap that Obama’s peddling, they’re just giving the Republicans the ball on their own 25 yard line.

  5. it is amazing that a nation of 300,000,000 people, a nation that put a man on the moon, has conquered numerous diseases, has invented the microchip (we did didnt we?), and still has some fine world class academic institutions simplay CANNOT find or develop a good political leader. not at all. one can argue whom the last good president was — Kennedy, Roosevelt, Teddy etc. who knows? and who cares?

    it is fucking 2008 and the past doesnt matter — we need leadership now and FAST?

    there are several reasons why we cannot find a true leader..

    the job is too complex and overwhelming — Hillary even said it — we need a head of govt and a head of state — not both — like the UK, like Israel, like Japan, like almost every other country. the job needs to be divided.

    the media — completely has hijacked the process and the presidency for entertainment purposes. they might as well be campaigning for an Oscar. you said it — who’s winning, who’s losing, who gained a point — it is the 5th race at Aqueduct. NEVER do you hear fuckers like tweety or wolf really talk about issues and qualities that a Leader should be exuding. Only about who trashed who. Not only is it a horse race, it is fucking “One Life to Live” on top of that. the media has so commercialized, trashed and damaged the electoral process — i dont think it can ever be brought back

    the endless campaigning. after a while you have to look for more crap to fill those minutes of CNN, you get tired of the same old crap. Iraq — that is SO 5 minutes ago. with an attention span of a gnat — the collective in the country (we are borg, resistance is futile) can’t think beyond the last fast clip of Mitt Romney arguing. and it goes on WAY TOOOOOOOO LONG. once the nominees are announced, the jockeying for the inside post at 2012 will start — and the media will be there to cover it all in living color.

    celebrity worship — not only do you have to be rich, you have to have star power. brain power is the last thing anyone wants. look at the current douchebag in the white house — zero brain power, zero star power, but brilliant marketers. when i sit on the subway and still here people talk about “who they saw” on the street, in a bar etc., i want to barf. the candidates might as well be Justin Timberlake or Lindsay Lohan.

    telegenics — the Kiss of Death for Dennis Kucinich. You gotta have some sex appeal. Huckabee doesnt have sex appeal but he makes up for it in affability (his insanity aside).

    the fear of losing — a politicians simply cannot lose today — it is the scarlet letter the media will hang around your neck and never let go. i loathe Nancy Pelosi — this is one of the reasons she is a terrible speaker — she is afraid of losing and looking bad — she has no gumption, no guts.

    after all that == lets us not forget this is one big insiders club — and the 290,000,000+ americans are just spectators. these people ALWAYS take care of themselves first, plain and simple. a real Speaker of the hOuse would be challenging Bush on EVERY turn — even if it meant losing a lot of the battles. These people are battlers in congress (allegedly) and then drinking buddies at night. and they laugh about it over Grey Goose. and in the end they take of their own.

    and we wonder why the next president will be Bush Part IV

  6. D-CAPny: What’s wrong with the 5th race at Aqueduct other than that Dutrow, Lake and Contessa have more EPO in their stables than Sloan-Kettering has?

    I don’t mind the horse-race coverage because it’s at least ideologically-neutral. I mind neither the political gossip nor the entertainment gossip for the same reason. It’s the “thematic” and “analytical” coverage of the campaigns by the MSM that I despise because there the biases are terribly clear and very persuasive if you’re not paying attention. I, however, am paying attention and the vacuity of the political coverage is great for me because it forces me to study harder to learn things about the candidates I need to know. Ultimately, DC, you’re completely right because my vote counts the same as everyone else’s. Less even because if we get a repeat of Kerry my vote won’t ever be counted. Maybe later on as a matter of accuracy but not unless it’s somehow meaningful to the decision.

    I also agree 100% with you about Pelosi and I knew this was going to happen which is why I was hoping against hope the position of Minority Leader back in the day would have gone to Martin Frost of Texas, and not only because of “identity politics” if you know what I mean and I think you do, mein lanzmann. I knew she’d be with neither gumption nor guts for reasons that she should have both: she’s the daughter of a former mayor of Baltimore. She should be a street-fighter for her party. But I guess what she took away from the Baltimore experience and the San Francisco experience as well is that those campaign contributions are first-and-foremost (take a look at her contributors — verrry scarrry, kids). Moreover, she learned in Balto and Frisco that with 80/20 Dem/Rep registration, the Republicans actually have a tremendous amount of power in deciding things unless a progressive Democratic candidate just snowballs the field. You see, in most urban scenarios, the progressive and the centrist are pretty close in terms of polls and the Repulicans decide it by coming in for the centrist. Mayors O’Malley in Balto and Newsome in Frisco are perfect examples.

    I am quite surprised, however, to read that you would like to see more fight from Pelosi when your reason for opposing Clinton for president is that you don’t like partisanship. I know I’d like to see something — anything — from her, but I LIKE PARTISANSHIP.

  7. I’m impressed as always with the intelligence and passion of the comments here. To Kelso, I would say that it’s not ideological orientation that I’m looking for, but information. I learn next to nothing about the candidates’ actual views and proposals from the TV news.
    On the other hand, I was struck by what you said about Obama. I had a similar experience watching the New Hampshire speech with my brother. We started stringing words together–dirigible, leprechaun, expectorate–and it was hilarious because it sounded just like the speech.

  8. These people should be judged on their appearances and nothing else.

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