Summer’s turpitude has lapsed, and the world has scurried back to work, to school, to the everyday hum-drum of what we imagine is “life.” In America, in this year, 2012, the autumn is overwhelmed with politics as our quadrennial charade of “democracy” takes the forefront of our national life. After a numbing sequence of primary elections, and the Republican’s ill-fated endless series of auto-destructive “debates,” the dust has settled and the candidates for President has narrowed to the permitted two. In this case, representing the Elephant symbol of the Republicans it is Mr Romney, scion of industrial wealth, and self-proclaimed biz-whiz. And representing the Donkey symbol of the Democrats, is Mr Obama, running for his second term, after 45 months of being hog-tied by an anything-but-loyal opposition, which has done everything it can to damage the political prospects of the incumbent, even if it meant inflicting grievous damage on the nation – which it has. And so, with the curiously inverted political coloring of red and blue strangely switched since Cold War days when red was the taboo commie/pinko code, and blue the benign sign of patriotism, the American versions of Left and Right will have at it. That Mr Obama is politically a step or two to the right of Republican Presidents Eisenhower and Nixon, but masquerades as a Democrat, while Mr Romney morphs to whatever pander pose seems to strike him as opportune for the moment, all serves to corrode this grand national theater with a cynicism which seems to transcend party lines. Both sides of the aisle genuflect to the same masters – the bankers, the military-industrial complex, and the not-so-hidden powers that govern our national life with total control over money, the media, jobs, the law, and, of course, the politicians who represent them. Thus those who have transparently transgressed beyond the laws they themselves have written are all naturally left utterly unfettered and set free: war crimes are hush-hushed, great financial crimes are not prosecuted, the President sits as judge, jury and executioner in violation of the Constitution which he is sworn to uphold, the great national security state carries on with its spying, torturing, and other Orwellian practices – such as “extreme rendition” (to say kidnapping, torturing and sometimes killing in the name of the State). Needless to say, none of this will be mentioned in the coming days of political rhetoric. Nor will either party suggest that spending half the “discretionary” budget of the US government on the military is in any way a dubious matter, or indeed sure to bankrupt the nation, in keeping with the usual nature of empires. Nope, goldern it, instead Mr Romney says he’d increase the military funding by 10%, while Mr Obama drones merrily away, nicely masked by the Neanderthal neo-con con-game. In the name of the nation’s businesses, it’s American corporations über alles, by hook or crook. This time the snake oil is in the neo-liberal process of privatizing about everything, while socializing the losses, and blaming the poor for the red ink. Mr Obama is as much a party to this as is Mr Romney. Indeed the entire spectacle appears little more than a highly formalized minuet in which the thuggish reality of America’s actual real-politik is obscured by the impolite shrieking of our mass media, and the cartoon buffoonery of our now nearly endless campaign season, mired in small-time cultural warfare while we engage endlessly in militarized global warfare. So, while there are some tangible, real world differences in the outcome of whether one or the other is President for the coming four years, the baseline is much the same: the rich and powerful get off free, the military bloats more and ever more corrupt, the media lies with no kind of punishment for doing so, and the nation will, whomever “wins,” drift ever more toward dissolution. Our politicians, with their lapel pins, their plastic folksiness, their transparent corruption, all look and behave ever more like their old Soviet counterparts – those pre-embalmed figures who graced the reviewing stands on Red Square, caught in the illusionary bubble of their faltering system, sure of their mystical powers until the edifice crumbled before their eyes. Likewise will the United States stumble onward, reciting self-pleased rhetoric about its exceptionalism, its inherent goodness, its dynamic economy, and all the other bromides our politicians utter as their mandatory catechism. If you don’t play that game, you are not allowed to play at all. To participate in America’s Kabuki politics, one must be blind.
The deal with the devil was long made. Their hands lie open awaiting the silver coins due them for their prostrations before the great powers that really run the show.