Sunday, September 7, 2008

Republican Convention: Enterprising Pioneers, All

Party conventions, by definition, have become little more than over-wrought pep rallies; short on specifics and purpose, long on pomp and glitter. As I wrote concerning the Democratic Convention last week, conventions provide ample opportunity for party supporters to push aside credulity and lend unwavering support to the party's corporate overlords. They are a time for healing, by which I mean abandonment of any and all trepidation about the party platform's divergence from the will of the voters. Glenn Greenwald expressed concern over AT&T's exclusive party, yet never seemed to approach a realization that the Democratic Party itself was just such an organization.

Central to these conventions, which have lost all tangible purpose now that the nomination itself no longer takes place there, is indeed the central tenet of the entire American political system. Namely, they are a charade meant to present a narrative which intersects reality at no juncture, a cinematic presentation of candidates and platforms as they are meant to be seen, not as they are.

It is within this framework that the Republican Party, forever bedfellows with the ruling elite and corporate oligarchy was marginally successful at presenting itself as the party of the people, even -- more laughable, still -- agents of change. Change, of course, is perennially the platform of the non-incumbent party (George Bush was the candidate of change in 2000), but it strains even the few remaining strands tying American politics to logic and reality for the party in power to do so.

For John McCain to run a successful campaign as an agent of change by running on a platform which promises no deviation whatsoever from the standard right-wing fare is ludicrous indeed, but meets with marginal success due to the American electorate's staunch ignorance of words and their meanings. Reason and logic hold spectacularly less import in American politics than do appearance and presentation, and the Republican Convention recently closed in Minnesota was a clinic in that reality.

Only in an environment which never questions theatrical presentation could a beer baroness present herself as a pioneer. In fact, among the speakers, it was near impossible to find a single individual of privilege. Every last one was suddenly a pioneer, a frontiersman, a by-product of the American Dream. This narrative has been central to the Republican presentation for decades, convincing successive generations to vote against their own economic interests while simultaneously insinuating that they are doing precisely the opposite.

Thus, promoting policies which guarantee the elimination of small businesses in favor of multinational corporations becomes looking out for the entrepreneur. Promoting educational policies which would eliminate the teaching of evolution or sex education as enforcing choice and parental controls. Promoting the elimination of any safeguards against capital flight becomes creating job security. In this Orwellian fantasy we've established, it is no longer necessary to sprinkle speeches with small intrusions of fact, for no one questions clear falsehoods, no one asks that definite meanings be attached to words or phrases.

Sarah Palin, herself a political gimmick, utilized her husband as one in her own acceptance speech. Despite the Right's unwavering opposition to organized labor and higher wages of the working class, she posits that being married to a member of that class suffices to eliminate a century of history.

He's a lifelong commercial fisherman ... a production operator in the oil fields of Alaska's North Slope ... a proud member of the United Steel Workers' Union ... and world champion snow machine racer.

Throw in his Yup'ik Eskimo ancestry, and it all makes for quite a package.

Again the specter of that American Dream, and a quasi-minority no less.

Despite being chosen precisely to reassure the base and draw attention away from McCain's occasional infidelity to his Party, Palin attempted to present herself as a change, a threat to the "Washington elite." For the most part, such an outlandish proposition seems to be bought in sum by the majority of the mass media and electorate. She may have supported the Bridge to Nowhere, but she's a threat to the Washington elites. She may be for drilling on protected lands, but oil companies supposedly fear her. She may be for the elimination of choice in school curriculum, but parents across America will thank her for doing just the opposite.

This was the spirit that brought me to the governor's office, when I took on the old politics as usual in Juneau ... when I stood up to the special interests, the lobbyists, big oil companies, and the good-ol' boys network.

If by standing up to the big oil companies she meant adopted their policies as her own governing platform, then I suppose she is correct. If by standing up to the lobbyists she means joining a campaign up to its teeth in some of the most influential corporate and despotic-regime lobbyists in Washington, then she is being honest.

If, however, words are to have any meaning, if the American voter is to require that actual linguistic and logical standards be applied to the nation's political language, then her speech and all others in the past two weeks have been pure farce.

Despite all claims to the contrary, the bevy of orations engaged in over the past fourteen days have barely intercepted the will of the public at-large at any point. Promises and chilling narratives abound, but nowhere was there an honest accounting just how the lives of Americans will be better four years from now. This, I suppose, is to be accepted in a country as religious as the United States. Its citizens are more than willing to accept everything on faith, and hastily discharge with anything that seems to conflict with their reigning worldviews. Inconvenient facts become nuisances to be swatted away so that the Kool-Aid may be imbibed without interference.

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1 comment:

Plastic Cards said...


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