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The United States: Proud Sponsor of Democracy Propaganda

Consumers are familiar with the term, sponsored by. Someone put up some scratch and in turn gets the right to sell their wares. It’s a business deal. We’ve seen the word “sponsor”, in this sense, prefaced by another word, like “official”, or “proud”. Official sponsor means something like…actually it doesn’t mean anything beyond what sponsor means. It’s merely trying to sound important. Now proud sponsor means something like…no, actually there’s no content to it either but it seems to be trying to puff up the sponsor. What do we really care about how proud they are of, what, to sell us something?

Words can sometimes mean nothing. How about these? Do you think your choice of candidate is “honest and trustworthy”? This is a popular subject in the upcoming presidential election. A Google search yields about 350,000 results from the four words, Trump, Clinton, honest, trustworthy. It should be more though.

A Google search for the three words — advertising, honest, trustworthy — yields over four million results. But we still fall hook, line, and sinker for advertising’s inaccuracy, exaggeration, misdirection, manipulation, exploitation, lies of omission and outright lies. It works, and works so wonderfully that it is the engine for consumer mass commercialization. We’re a great country as long as we keep shopping, this taking a little liberty with a line from one G.W. Bush.

Politicians no more have to tell the truth than advertisers do. That’s not their job. They’re in sales and, as such, occupy the lowest rung in Washington. Marlon Brando once said that actors are the lowest rung in Hollywood. Same thing. Both get pushed out front where they act as instruments of those with permanence in the establishment structure. At best, they become part of the structure.

There have been some intelligent calls recently for 3rd party candidates to be included in the presidential debates. The attention that Sanders has gotten in the Democratic primaries, and Trump in his primaries, has exposed a fault in the two-party paradigm. There are signs the public is beginning to refuse its gruel.

There’s a serious hitch in the call for debate inclusion. It was privatized some time ago and is now the province of the Democratic and Republican parties. The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) is a private corporation owned and run by these two parties in their own interest, just like any other corporation.

The CPD has recently been sued by the Green Party and the Libertarian Party. The basis for their case was that outside, and relatively unfunded, parties do not enjoy the access to the wider public to rise to the arbitrary criteria set by the CPD for inclusion, this being polling at 15% nationally. The argument, then, is how are we going to reach 15% if we can’t debate our ideas in front of a national audience?

With circular reasoning, the judge ruled for the CPD on the basis that the low poll numbers of the parties established that they did not merit inclusion. This is made to order for the controlling Democratic and Republican parties. They get their own debate, just what the CPD was set up for. And some think they can’t get along.

Imagine what would happen if the Republican and Democratic parties suddenly vanished into thin air. Would we miss them? Lots of people would have to figure out what to call themselves, maybe start from scratch. What do the parties add beyond convenience?  And what is the price of this convenience? Look at the distasteful candidates that they have produced for the rest of us, one of which is a sure thing come November. Guaranteed.

Politics should not be thought of as a profession, lest one miss the point. It is a business. Both counter-revolutionary parties have wealthy individuals, wealthy and influential groups, and really wealthy and powerful corporations behind them pushing for their own interests. The politician will be well fed so long as they are. In the end, it’s all about the party, pleasing the party, and the party pleasing those it owes.

Trump is something of an anomaly in that his own party can’t seem to keep him on its stomach. There’s little likelihood that it could come to pass, but if it did there’s also little likelihood that he would stray in a presidential role from party policy.

I was a participant in a small meeting with then Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand. The subject was raised of a Bush/Cheney impeachment effort due to their lying the country into an invasion of Iraq, a war of aggression for those familiar with the precedents established at Nuremberg. Would she get behind this effort in the House if she believed, as we did, that this was a crime of the highest order. Her reply? Forget it, the party leadership will never allow it!  That’s party for you.

Neither Trump nor Clinton do very well when people are polled about their honesty and trustworthiness, but the question is not apropos. They’re making sales pitches, and we’re choosing between brands. Which is more honest? Coke or Pepsi? It’s nonsense, and as a poll question it distracts from what is really going on. Looking for honesty and trustworthiness in politicians is like looking for it in a CEO of a multi-national corporation. If you’re not sitting in the board meeting, you’re not deserving of it. You’ve no right to it.

Could be we don’t really care that politicians deceive us so long as they entertain us. Look how long it’s been going on. By our actions we seem to enjoy it. The roots, cheers, and chants are symptomatic of a defeated personality. Our willing participation in Washington’s two-party election charade is a form of surrender. To be exact (and I can’t remember where to credit the phrasing) it is surrender by appointment.

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James Rothenberg can be reached at:  jrothenberg@taconic.net

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