The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; ....
I can't be the only one with a serious case existential angst this election year. The more I see and hear about the contemporary political landscape the more I feel as though we are merely going through the motions with our representative democracy. One might expect that most governments evolve into plutocracies to some degree as the wealthy find ways of achieving greater power and influence. But now it seems to have achieved such a pitch and frenzy that our democracy has become dysfunctional and we are actually being governed by media conglomerates, oil companies and other powerful lobbying groups.
Our presidential elections have far less to do with statesmanship or political platforms and everything to do with imaging and marketing. They've done their job well. A cheery voice told us in 2000, "You get all this: cowboy for president, a representative of American values, ardent opponent of nation-building, who is committed to the the environment for only 19.99. Act now, and you'll receive a portion of our nation's surplus. That's right, a real money check mailed right to your door, plus a set of Ginzu Knifes." In 2004, we heard the same thing, "If you ignore the war we entered by lying to you, the torture we allowed at Abu Graib, and fall into rank and file, then by jingo, we'll throw in the Imperial Oil Protectorate of Iraq. Act now and you'll receive an additional incentive check as a token of our gratitude." Now we're hearing the familiar refrain once again "Now, from the people who brought you hits like Iraq, Abu Graib and Katrina there's the War on Money. Call now, and we'll manage your economy for only 2,319.99!"
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity...
As I talk to people I really admire I find that some of the most brilliant and clear-minded people I know are the most disheartened right now. They are not staffing the phones for their candidates, but listening to the debates and thinking "There is barely any difference. These guys sound the same." Especially since they have both served as senators, McCain and Obama volley charges about the each other's voting records, like a pair of cranky schoolboys playing badminton. But we will never find our ideal candidate. I myself would rather have heard someone support South Ossetia's right to declare autonomy from Georgia. I feel sad that when asked if Russia under Putin is an evil empire, my guy failed to muster the correct response: "Hell no, I refuse to allow Reagan's late 20th century characterization of global politics define this era." It is just plain sad to see this mess and there's so much blame to go around. I still can't bring myself disengage from the process because my candidate isn't perfect.
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desertA shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
Yeah the news is just plain depressing, but come on Yeats, man! It's not that bad. I'll pass along a little snippet of HOPE that I gleaned from the debate. The mere fact that this question was asked brought me so much satisfaction because it moved the debate away from talking points and towards an issue of national character.
Brokaw: Sen. McCain, for you, we have our first question from the Internet tonight. A child of the Depression, 78-year-old Fiorra from Chicago:
"Since World War II, we have never been asked to sacrifice anything to help our country, except the blood of our heroic men and women. As president, what sacrifices -- sacrifices will you ask every American to make to help restore the American dream and to get out of the economic morass that we're now in?"
Fiorra, you rock! Thank you for giving the watching public one brief shining moment to remember that American life is about more than all the stuff you get.
Now I really must go, Blicky is actually being held in a little timeout downstairs since this whole Wall Street debacle. Bad Blicky! I think I hear him down there meowing "sell" into his Blackberry, so I've got to locate his recharger and pick up a few toiletries for him online.