by Gilles d'Aymery
(Swans - November 3, 2008) It took over 21 months of round-the-clock campaigning, between $2 and 3 billion in expenditures, punditry coverage, vomiting in an ocean of insipidity to put you half asleep, and here we are -- the same situation in which we've been all along. The choice is between two corporate candidates: an old, dishonorable man who reneged on his word to conduct a decent and civil campaign and fell in the gutters with his fundamentalist evangelical running mate; and a pathological narcissist who's consistently flip-flopped on all matters, bet the bank on creating a cult of personality, all the while realizing the amazing feat of imbuing large audiences with ambiguous messages ("Obamaguity"). Real issues were wholly ignored or presented in the most opaque discourse possible. Meanwhile, real alternatives like Ralph Nader and Matt Gonzalez have once again been shut out of the national dialogue and the real issues that confront our country (and the world) were overshadowed, if not utterly ignored, by the "value" thing. Where does this perennial status quo, business as usual, leave us? Despondency can only lead to more reactionary, authoritarian trends. We can't give up. We must organize; 2012 is just four years away. Let's support the next generation. Matt Gonzalez is 43 years old -- he'll be 47 next time around. We have four years to a) follow-up on Ralph Nader and hold Congress's feet to the fire, and b) work to elect Matt Gonzalez as the 45th president of the United States.
From the gutters to the personality cult, corporate America had a field day
Far from being a maverick, a straight talker, a patriot, a bipartisan conciliator, an experienced leader, and a "hero" (what's heroic about crashing planes repeatedly and being a prisoner of war with a rather muddy behavior, or trashing his first wife for a beer heiress he has physically abused over the years?), John McCain conducted himself in the vilest imaginable manner in the hope of achieving his life-long ambition. McCain resorted to and let his campaign, running mate, and Republican apparatus engage in character assassination of his opponent. He condoned by his silence, and often by adding his own words, the wildest accusations and rumors against Barack Obama. The Democratic nominee, according to them, was "palling with terrorists," ready to give the shop to the so-called worst dictators in the world; he was a Muslim in disguise, possibly an "Arab," definitively "anti-Christian" and anti-Semite; he was not born an American (an amusing tale considering that McCain was born in Panama) and his birth certificate was faked; he was anti-American, a socialist and a redistributionist, an anti-white racist, a cipher, a phony, etc. Mr. McCain turned into Mr. McNoShame, whose nastiness and poisonous hatred rivaled that of Lee Atwater and Karl Rove, without the talent the latter two exhibited during their years of dominance, but with a series of erratic messages only compounded by his wicked temperament. Whether he makes it to the Oval Office or is relegated to the dustbin of history, wasting his last days in the spotlight whining about his sorry self, he'll be remembered as the bigot he always was.
Mr. Obama tried with mitigated success to remain above the fray. He talked a lot about change ("we can believe in" or "we need") with haughty rhetoric and much ado about nothing. He built a formidable campaign machine that was indiscriminately focused upon himself, and only himself -- a typical, psychologically proven trait of a narcissist personality -- the inescapable savior appealing to the emotions of an electorate that's lost with and disheveled by the double whammy of war without end and economic distress. He offered no factual change, only the "are you better off than 8 years ago?" malarkey. (Of course we are not better off. We haven't been for over 30 years.) He's revealed himself to be infatuated with his own lust for power, lacking empathy, supporting reactionary policies (death penalty, more military spending, more aggressions overseas, etc.), and totally embedded with the powers-that-be. Obama, if elected, will surely disappoint the "progressives" that advocated voting for the lesser evil and will keep advocating for the same BS four years down the road.
Indeed, corporate America is having a field day. Neither of the two candidates has gone after it; instead, they shielded it. Both campaigns were littered with advisors from America Inc. The results are evident: From bailing out Wall Street to keeping health care private, from expanding military expenditures to launching new wars, from sticking it to the little people (ourselves) to throwing more money at the failed corporations (themselves), from keeping the trough going their way instead of taking care of the whole, corporate America has nothing to fear. Either occupant of the Oval Office will do the corporations' bidding. That's the main reason America Inc. threw money at both campaigns in abandon. Either way, the beast keeps winning.
Issues were ignored as "values" kept creeping on the forefront of both campaigns
Both campaigns were lavish on "values" but ignored the issues. Here are some of them that I picked from the Nader Web site: Affirmative action, agriculture, civil liberties, climate change, consumer justice, corporate crime, education, energy policy, environmental policy, fair tax, fair trade, federal budget, health care, high crimes and misdemeanors, immigration, jobs, justice system, media bias, Middle East peace, poverty, power shift, and worker's rights. Add war and peace, the bloated military expenditures that are bankrupting us, and the critical question of electoral reform (issues that Ralph and Matt have consistently outlined), and you can clearly notice that neither of the two heads of the bicephalous system addressed any of these meaningfully or otherwise. They were too busy addressing the emotions of the voters.
It is thought in some quarters that a logical, unemotional rationale, one that is based on facts only, will lead people to come to the "right" conclusion. Wrong, says George Lakoff, a professor of cognitive linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley. Neuroscience is showing that 98 percent of our decision-making is unconscious. People act on their emotions (gut feeling) and they function within different worldviews. They use frames of references and are bound to espouse the rhetorical metaphors the candidates throw at them conspicuously -- a technique that has been refined by Madison Avenue ever since the Wilson era.
All in all, a sad acknowledgement of the state of affairs and a blunt reminder of the Sisyphean struggle that lies ahead.
Looking ahead and not loosing sight of a better future
Quadrennially, we are taken for a ride. Even well-intentioned liberal intellectuals à la Noam Chomsky, et al., keep channeling people into the lesser evil paradigm. They too, as the masters of our universe, seem to be satisfied with the status quo, unable for whatever reasons to break the invisible shackles that the Citadel uses to keep them from straying too far from its interests.
It does not have to be that way forever.
In 2012, Ralph Nader will be 78 years old. Ralph is an ox and will be there to help in the long struggle for peace, justice, and equality. With any luck so will Swans and its modest crew be au rendez vous. But we need to pass the baton to the next generation. Matt Gonzalez has demonstrated his commitment to ethical governance and to We the People -- placing the whole before the few. Gonzalez's intellectual honesty and clear-mindedness deserve our support. It's time to start working again, today.
Matt Gonzalez for president, 2012!