Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Political Creature

Over the years, I’ve grown weary of politics, especially local politics. The first reporting assignment I’ve had in Cape May County was covering the Board of Chosen Freeholders. For those not up on their archaic terminology, a freeholder was originally one who owns land and a “chosen freeholder” refers to a representative representing land owners of a town or area.
I covered politics at all levels, including Congress, the Statehouse and local municipalities. The one thing you build by covering politics around here is a bullshit-proof skin. The governing yokels don't have the will or fortitude to be accountable to the public, and therefore engage in dodging everything that aren't softball questions.
Run by the Republican Party, the county is very conservative. How conservative? In Upper Township they still believe Richard Nixon is president.
Because the Party controls the freeholder board, their influence filters down to local elections. Why is the Party such a dominant force here? Its prime movers are influential men: insurance salesmen, real estate agents, and developers. Men whose influence extends beyond the county and into the state.
With the entrenchment so deep, the Democrats don’t stand a chance. The Democrats are far outnumbered and sometimes don’t even run candidates for the freeholder board.
Not like they’ve even tried – more often the county Democratic Party doesn’t even field freeholder candidates. That party is impotent to begin with, and not being able or willing to serve up a few sacrificial lambs for the ticket is just painful and sad.
Which brings me to my loathing of political parties. With the national primaries earlier this year, I developed an aversion to rhetoric, campaigning and bullshit spewed by political candidates and their flunkies. Both Republicans and Democrats claim to possess the one infallible truth about how America should be run and anyone wavering from this truth is a heretic.
Fuck that. Fuck those moonbats and fundies. Fuck the liberals and the GOP. And Ralph Nader. Yeah, fuck Ralph Nader, too. And Fuck Rush Limbaugh, Fox News and Air America. Fuck every talking head, pundit and insider. Seal them in a full chemical toilet and throw them in the Ganges River to wallow in festering crap.
Rabid partisanship on the left and right isn't improving the national political discourse. It's stagnating it. It's retarding it. It's destroying it.
We need to unite as a country and solve the problems before us as adults, as citizens, as Americans. In the 20th Century, America was Superman. We were revered and heroic. We got things done.
We fought two world wars and defeated tyranny and fascism. We fed poor countries and protected weak ones. We reached out to those who couldn't help themselves because that's what heroes do.
But lately, within the past few decades, we've grown so self-centered and angry. We've turned on ourselves. It used to be that neighbors looked after each other. Now we're tearing each other apart like wild animals.
This derision doesn't start with the individual citizen. This hatred and venom filters down, usually from a man in a suit and tie standing behind a lectern, spouting divisive partisan rancor and rhetoric, or some radio talk show host or personality who think they have a lock on truth.
It filters down in a tiny trickle and by the time it reaches the airwaves, it's a monumental deluge: kill the fags, protect the flag, they'll cut and run, they'll keep us in Iraq for a century, they're only for the rich, they're only for the poor, they'll destroy our God-fearing way of life as we know it.
Move over, baseball. Scapegoating is the new American pastime.
Yes, it used to be that Americans rolled up their sleeves and solved problems of this nation together, sitting around one table. They didn't care about soundbites or polls or how it would play in the media. They didn't care about who said what in a Vanity Fair article or who was quoted in The New York Times.
They cared about America.
They cared about protecting, serving and maintaining this great civilization. They cared about the idea that what our forefathers did, for good or ill, mattered and had a nobler purpose. That the preservation of ideals and values such as freedom, liberty and justice for all were concepts worth securing and protecting.
They cared about this and they did the right thing, regardless of whether they were registered Republican, Democrat or independent.
But vitriolic pablum spewed over the airwaves is big money, and talk radio the new Colosseum, where lefties or righties are sacrificed to the lions of partisanship all for the entertainment of those who don't know that what they're participating in is a barbaric blood sport.

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