"We have the greatest opportunity the world has ever seen, as long as we remain honest -- which will be as long as we can keep the attention of our people alive. If they once become inattentive to public affairs, you and I, and Congress and Assemblies, judges and governors would all become wolves." ~ Thomas Jefferson
Pigs Led to Slaughter
There was a time when I did not mind watching 'Meet the Press.' It was amusing to watch Tim Russert pull out the most obscure quotes politicians had made in the past and then make them squirm. So I was surprised when I saw an episode lately to see what an absolute tool Russert has become. The guests on the show were James Carville and his wife Mary Matalin. The love-fest that ensued was sickening. Russert lofted softball questions on their political outlooks for 2003, their family, and of course, how is it possible to be married to someone with opposite political ideas.
On the show, Carville and Matalin argued quite a bit. Carville looked like the Grinch with a few inches added to the forehead, and he would furrow his brow and rant in his whiny voice about what the government should be doing. Matalin would then shake her head and respond in her zombie voice to tell us her grand vision of what the government should be doing. At the end, of course, it was all hugs and kisses.
This m'nage a trois was representative of the typical arrangement of Democrats, Republicans, and the press. Argue a lot during the day, and sleep together at night.
There are many people who don't understand this relationship at all. They are the type of people who subscribe to National Review or are working on Al Gore's 2004 campaign. These people actually believe that the political parties stand for something. They actually believe that Republicans and Democrats have opposite ideology.
When you watch a couple like Carville and Matalin, you realize that the system is nothing more than two sports teams going for the prize of power. Just like Barry Bonds doesn't start lecturing about quantum photonics in the outfield, politicians don't take time out on their court to discuss actual political principles. Politics has absolutely nothing to do with principle. It has everything to do with winning and maintaining power.
They can't let all of us know that, though. If the girls and boys in Washington want us to pay attention to their club, they have to get us to believe a few things. The first is that the government is really us. You see, when the government taxes me, it is really me that is taxing myself, so it's not theft at all. And when the government bombs Third World countries, it is really me that gave the order to do it. Of course, you gave the order too. We all did, because through some Rousseauian magic, the government is our Collective Will. The sad fact is that most people swallow this line. Schools teach that 'our' system is so great because power is transferred peacefully by ballot. I say it's the worst kind of system there is because its illegitimacy is well-hidden. I'd personally prefer the government to constantly have to fight off violent coups. Let it be clearly evident that government is nothing more than the barrel of a gun, and maybe more people would wake up.
The 'government is us' myth is perpetuated mainly through making countries seem like specific people capable of actions and using the word 'we.' How often do newscasters talk about America on the verge of attacking Iraq ? What the hell does this mean, anyway? I'm picturing the Rocky Mountains heaving their smaller cousins the Appalachians across the ocean. Of course, what is really meant is that one criminal gang's hired thugs are going to invade another criminal gang's territory. That doesn't quite have the same luster though, does it?
Political pundits go on and on about what 'we' should do. We should invade Iraq . We should take care of our elderly. We should provide free abortions for everyone. Enough! Unless you've got a mouse in your pocket, buddy, don't tell me what 'we' should be doing.
In order to finish the illusion that the government is us, voters need to be given a choice. The fundamental nature of government would be a little too obvious if only one name came up on the ballot. So the trick is really very sneaky: put two names on it. And the final sleight of hand--pretend that these two names represent different ideologies. Now people will think that they are being presented with some actual choice, that the course of the government is in their hands.
I found it particularly amusing when Saddam Hussein was elected with 100 % percent of the vote. This was a perfect example of the illusion that has been pulled to make people believe in the legitimacy of government. Across the news I heard sneering remarks about what a debacle the election was. This was prefect evidence to everyone how the Iraq government was illegitimate and must be replaced.
You see, the United States government is nothing like that. When election time comes here, there is not just one name on the ballot. There are two. This means that American voters have a fundamental choice when it comes to pick their representatives, unlike those poor Iraqis. So when we hear that a Third World dictator received 100 % of the vote, this is funny to us because we can see that the democratic process in that country is a sham.
The pigs in the pen like to laugh at the cows as they are led to slaughter.