I have always harbored a fascination for American politics, an interest which borders on passion. As a child I was fixated on the accomplishments of the Presidential administrations, by the time that I was 7 years old I was able to name all of the Presidents in their order of succession, the biggest accomplishment during their time in office, along with their cause of death, in retrospect it seems a bit obsessive. But my inclination for historical nuance definitely came in handy as I never got a grade lower than a B+ in social studies when I was in school.
I liken my passion of the political chess game to what hardcore fans have for the faux sport of professional wrestling. In that the fans and the characters who comprise the “sport”, both sides know that what they are bearing witness to is an exercise in scripted, theatrical imagination.
When I reached voting age it was a moment of palpable excitement, one where I was finally able to participate in the sacred covenant that the citizenry has in exercising that right to speak their mind via the voting booth. As a child when Election Day rolled out around in my house, my parents operated like a well oiled machine as they seamlessly coordinated the respective routes of me and my siblings getting to school and the sitters, while ensuring that they both got to the polling place to make their electoral voices heard. I watched them in awe and couldn’t wait until I too could sink that hole punch into the paper card, especially because in light of my Mother never heeding my voting requests on those occasions that she allowed me to accompany her to the polling place.
Sadly, the novelty, the magic that surrounded me reaching voting age was short lived. As I soon realized that the mechanism that powered the political process was not the American voter, but it was the Almighty dollar much to my dismay. I was crestfallen and considered dropping out of the electoral process altogether, but in lieu of the sacrifices that many Americans made to procure the right to vote, I considered non-participation to be an affront to their memory.
So, I faithfully continued to vote in any election whether it was local, state or national doing it with the tacit acknowledgement that I was a “political agnostic” I likened myself the person who plays a $1 in the lottery, with the understanding that the odds of winning were hopelessly stacked against them, but that $1 is well worth the dream sequence that accompanies the litany of “What If’s”. Besides l was comfortable with the expectation that wholesale change would not transpire, but if it did it would be a nice surprise and besides I liked the pomp and circumstance of being at the polling place.
When it comes to the landscape of the American political system it would seem that the joke is on those who can least afford the guffaw in the humor of it all. The voice that is acknowledged by our “public servants” comes from the people and entities that provide them with the fuel (cash) needed to keep their respective political machines operating at peak efficiency. The cries of the American people are just that, sounds that are lost in the wind tunnel of back and forth of finger pointing. Considering the scenario laid out in the October 2010 issue of Mother Jones, if the members of Congress were seated according to how much their corporate benefactors contributed to their respective campaigns; the reality is nothing short of sobering.
Is lip service representative government?
The narrative that is often used by our Congressional representatives is that they speak for their constituents, share the same values and stand on the convictions that are held dear to those in their districts. Often wedge issues often run amok such as abortion, gay marriage and the like, it is these issues that serve to distract the public from the elephant in the room, which is that our elective representatives have very little in common with the rank and file voter.
According to the Center of Responsive Politics out of the 534 current members of Congress 268 members had an average net worth exceeding $1 million dollars, with that being said how can there be an expectation of empathy if they can’t identify with the financial conundrums’ of an average working class stiff, especially if that “stiff” doesn’t have the wherewithal to contribute to their campaign war chest. I am doubtful that my Congressional representative knows the swan song that I sing when Sallie Mae pays me a visit at the beginning of each month.
That being said our political system is not any different from professional wrestling or Hulk Hogan’s epic battles with Andre the Giant. Those matches, like the political debates that we bear witness to are entertaining at best, but totally devoid of reality because after the bell rings, they are both on the same side sharing a laugh about their convincing performance.
All the while the joke continues to be on those who can least afford to chuckle about it.
I guess a 3rd party is starting to sound more viable with each passing day.