Thursday, March 1, 2012

Political Theater

How to bear witness to a play when you are in it? What we are witnessing this election year is theater of the absurd and we are all in the cast of millions. The Republican actors are crazed jesters beating each other up like the Three Stooges plus one, while they contort themselves, denouncing a president who bears no resemblance to the straw man of their fevered minds.

Some have time-traveled back centuries where they rightfully belong, conjuring a world of sweat shops, debtor’s prisons and grand inquisitors, those good old days when everyone knew his (and mostly her) place. These are the Fundamentalist fools, home-grown Taliban whose orthodoxy locates them in some Christian version of Waziristan.

Another, to the manor born, is unable to fake authenticity. He is a wind-up toy, a puppet with a Pinocchio nose which elongates with every flip of the flop. When he is not in the counting house counting his off-shore money he is backstage trying to memorize his script.

The fourth is the nihilist who would overthrow the government altogether so we might have food-fights at every corner to determine who has the right-of-way. Bodies may pile up on the street from foul air and poisoned food but who cares? We are tough hombres and the weak don’t deserve to survive anyway.

Let the curtain go down on the clowns. They have polluted the air with their noxious lies, played to the one gallery while the rest of us choke. As the cowboy, the manikin and two would-be Popes make their noise is anyone listening? Could it be that, with every repetition, their lunacy gains a bit of legitimacy in public discourse and moves the spectrum further yet to the right? However outrageous their prattling, it seeps into consciousness.

There is an element in our midst so poisoned with hatred toward Obama they have been deafened to reason. Let them go. Must we all endure this tragicomic drama much longer? One can only hope the so-called debates have revealed the vacancy of their agenda and the irrelevance of the issues raised.

Fortunately there will be another act where the Republican candidate will be forced to address the real matters of urgency. He will have to disown much of what he said to get the nod. Maybe then there will a real debate to determine if we want to live in the 21st century or the 15th, if we want a democracy or theocracy, if we want to lift the millions out of poverty, revitalize the middle class, return our manufacturing base, restore collective bargaining, and check the greed of the privileged few.

Democracy does not make an exciting movie or theater piece. The narrative is an open text, never entirely resolved and the curtain doesn’t go down. However if these months of circus are Act One, I expect the August Convention to be Act Two. My hunch is that the moneyed interests will declare all four clowns as unelectable and multiple ballots will ensue. This will, at least, break the tedium. Out will emerge another Bush or shrub like Daniels or even Christie. By that time he will have shed 100 pounds using the Huckabee diet in which all he eats is the communion wafer.

The Third Act will be the period after that, when Obama debates the real candidate. On Election night we shall either storm the Canadian border for asylum or rejoice that rationality and compassion have triumphed over imbecility and deceit.

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