Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election 2012: The Wealthy are Not Entitled to Their Delusions

Here we are at last, Election Day 2012. Four years ago today, we made history by electing Barack Obama to the office of president of the United States. It's been a bumpy four years since. After all, on inauguration day that following January, the Republican party - led by Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell - came together and swore to prevent this administration from enacting policy and prevent Obama's reelection. Right on day one. And they had the gall to spend this entire election season complaining that Obama wasn't 'bipartisan enough.'

I've already voted. Hopefully you have, too. Either way, I'm writing and posting this far too late for it to affect anything or change anybody's mind about anything. Not that it was going to have any effect like that in the first place, on a podunk blog like this. At any rate, what follows here is a pastiche of thoughts I've been having and articulating for months. I meant to make Spiral Reverie more active for months prior to this, but kept stumbling, as per usual. Thus, you were deprived of the usual assortment of my thoughts and writings that I assaulted your eyes with just before the 2008 election. This year, you get a lot of that all at once in this post with a unifying thought there in the title. There'll be more thoughts in other posts later. Because that's what keeps you going.

We should reelect Obama, of course. Not because he's going to liberate us from the broken corporatocracy we've become, a sham of a democracy. I was born while Ronald Reagan was president. While I was growing up being taught to believe in American democracy, because education demands that we be idealistic even if it means being naive. But even as I was born, as my generation came into this world, democracy was being sold by the great white hope of the Republican party. Never mind that the man actually had the sense to raise taxes on numerous occasions, that he ignored AIDS, and that he was going fairly senile by the time he left office. What really matters is the myth the man became and the blight we call Reagaonomics - the birthplace of the trickle-down economic policy the Republican party continues to push, despite a well-established history of pushing the wealth to the top where it's hoarded, while the rest of the nation suffers. In fact, it was recently debunked yet again in a nonpartisan congressional study. The Republicans hid that, of course. How else could the rich continue to get away with hoarding everything, while continuing to take the entire concept of job creation and stability hostage? And business owners are outright threatening their employees to vote for Romney. And Mitt Romney himself urged this short of behavior. The ruling class that should rightly be overthrown exerting their power.

Obama won't stop this, of course, but he acknowledges the problem, and of our two choices, he's the only one who might actually pursue overturning the Supreme Court's nationally destructive Citizens United ruling that outright sold our democracy.

Now, let's talk a bit more about what Romney and the Republicans are running on. The theme of this year's Republican National Convention back in late August was 'We Built It,' a cynical line in response to an out of context line from an Obama speech referring to infrastructure built by government labor. In Tampa, Florida, just a few months ago, a lot of rich, white, well-connected people gathered to make sure we knew that they built everything of theirs themselves. That we should ignore the context of the original quote, that we should ignore the vital government role in maintaining our crumbling government infrastructure, that we should ignore the considerable ministrations of their hired labor. As Kurt Vonnegut once wrote, "Another flaw in the human character is that everybody wants to build and nobody wants to do maintenance."

In Republican fantasy land, where the wealthy are 'middle class' and corporations are 'small businesses,' corporations and businesses exist and succeed as they do by the grace of god, just as our rights are bestowed by one, and aren't things people fight for, that a government working for the people enshrines with legislation. Why, it should just be good ol' common sense by now that businesses and especially corporations have every right to exist and oppress the world financially for the benefit of an extreme few of at the top through our broken institutions and lack of regulation. The government has nothing to do with allowing business to exist in the first place and recognizing it. Business and financial commerce are the highest form of natural existence! Never mind that the very value of all currency is an illusion maintained only by that we as a collective whole agree to give these things certain agreed upon values that are constantly in flux. And naturally, the taxes must be the work of some sort of unholy monster from down below. Why should we have to pay a price for participation in society? Let alone dare think about maintaining it?

As usual, the party that denounces government, continues to seek election to it and when elected, seeks to break it and prevent it from properly serving the interests of the people. They seek to become supposed public servants, but when elected to that position, have no interest in serving the public. In a sane, informed nation, such a political party would be entirely unviable. But this is America. We're going to run this shit into the ground, all while shouting, "Fuck you! Got mine!"

The truth is, we're not civilized enough to maintain a civilization.

Further RNC thoughts. This is where things will start to get a little more jumbled and potentially redundant - try to stomach that, if you can. At any rate, foreign policy and incompetence.

This year, they upheld Condoleezza Rice as a foreign policy expert. She spent her eight years as a key member of George W. Bush's administration acting primarily as an enabler of reckless war after war, and was right there in the middle of things as we became a global laughingstock. She criticized the Obama administration for diplomacy, as the GOP has year after year, as a weakness rather than the supposed strength the GOP continually shows in its endless beating of the war drums. In many ways, their foreign policy seems to boil down to little more than that if you don't like America, we should kill you.

Rice's - and the Bush administration's - policies exuded jingoism, and historically, that serves no one well. The GOP fantasy includes all other nations in the world being backward shitholes, where America exists as some kind of Shangri-La - and it's easy to peddle that to a xenophobic base that has little awareness of the outside world. It could probably be said that America is a nation too large for its own good - not merely too big for its own britches, but ultimately so insular and self-suffocating in its cultural identity (or lack thereof in the widespread rejection of the celebration of cultural diversity that should define us) that too many Americans lives oblivious to what life is like outside of the US, in a fantasy world where we're either the only ones who have freedom, or that we're somehow the 'most free.' Republicans feel they have a right to live in this fantasy world where we invented concepts like freedom and democracy, instead of increasingly distorting them as we have - and anyone with a grasp of functioning human civilization and nature (Sorry, Libertarians) gets that freedom comes with its limitations, including speech, such as hate speech and shouting fire in a crowded theater.

Just a few months ago, as the London Olympics opened, we watched Mitt Romney go on a three-country tour - including to the UK, where he picked up the nickname, 'Mitt the Twit,' which undoubtedly made him glad his nickname isn't Mott (As Obama noted in his DNC speech, "You might not be ready for diplomacy with Beijing if you can’t visit the Olympics without insulting our closest ally.") - and invariably piss people off wherever he went, stumbling and bumbling at every turn. When the election's still three months off and you manage to anger one of our closest allies right off the bat because you're incapable of even paying them the expected Olympic lip service - and hey, even I watched the opening ceremonies and thought Danny Boyle and all involved really came up with something fun - you're displaying a certain level of foreign relations incompetence that should effectively bar you from any position of global power. Of course, when you also manage to insult a whole local community over a beloved local bakery, maybe running for any kind of office or interacting with other human beings just isn't for you.

Considering Bush's behavior and the GOP's criticism of Obama's foreign relations history, apparently we're supposed to strut around like cowboys and tell the rest of the world that we rule them. In essence, that we should encourage the rest of the world to despise us so we can keep saying they hate us because we're better, all while effectively inviting attacks on our country and future war in general, as much as we've made a sport of war in recent years. And our rather cavalier use of drone strikes throughout the Middle East and eagerness to launch into preemptive cyber warfare come off as entirely ill-advised - aggressive policies that can and will probably come back to bite us in the britches in the future.

Speaking of blisters in the britches, cranky failed candidate John McCain's been mad this year that we're not at war in Iran and Syria as we speak. Because apparently good foreign policy means not only more American imperialism - we all know how popular that's made us abroad (If we keep troops on the ground in three more countries, we get a free Big Mac!) - but more war. And nothing says competent, humane foreign policy quite like marking some bad guys, dropping some bombs, and shrugging off a whole lot of civilian casualties, because hey, you shouldn't have gotten in the way of our bombs/bullets/drones. Not that I'm defending the Obama administration's ongoing drone program either. That's a horrific, illegal approach to things that's asking for a serious long-term backlash, but when that is the so-called 'socialist' response to the GOP's constant war mongering (Seems they won't be satisfied until there's not much left to the Middle East but Israel.), we're in a place worthy of being called fucked up. We can't expect to play the world's abusive police force forever without serious repercussions. Then again, that's how we're treating the environment, and we're pretty well bound for extinction sooner than we know for it, but I'll get to that in a future post.

There's also no question that the basis for the Iraq war, the very war Romney's advocated for not ending, was a lie - all those who perpetrated the war are criminals who committed atrocities upon the Iraqi people. Condoleezza Rice is among them, alongside Donald Rumsfeld (Another dangerously unqualified Obama foreign policy critic), Dick Cheney, and George W. "Boss Hog" Bush himself. But there's not going to be any justice. Those of the same mindset in the government are already eager to start new wars in Iran and Syria, like the aforementioned McCain. And while there's no ignoring that Asad is, obviously, a huge problem (This is a tremendous understatement, especially for all the people he's killing), butt another war is not the answer. This isn't a situation like Libya where we can just target him and his forces like we could Gaddafi, either. And on the note of Libya? It's no secret that Paul Ryan voted to cut security funding from our Libyan embassy along with the rest of the GOP before the tragic attack last month. Despite that, he and Romney have been desperate to exploit the incident to score every political point they can off the senseless death of an ambassador and several others. It doesn't excuse the clumsy political gamesmanship on the Obama administration's part around the attack, but it doesn't make what Romney and Ran are doing any less slimy or dishonest.

In relation to both foreign and economic policy as well, the GOP has been fearmongering for years that unless we return to the dangerous economic policies of the Bush years - and take them aggressively further, no less - we'll become the next Greece. Who cares if the wealthy are hoarding the vast majority of the nation's wealth and supply side economics have been proven entirely unviable by both history and math? It's time for austerity, they argue. Naturally, this entails ignoring the hate groups gaining power in part as a result of austerity in Greece. We're told that unless we pursue what Greece has done, we'll become them. Ignoring entirely the horrible elements that can and do surface in times of great suffering and desperation. There are extremist elements like Golden Dawn alive and well in America - they may not be able to gain power running as Neo-Nazis, of course, but if the GOP regains power and is able to successfully pursue a program of national austerity, the ugliness Obama's election alone easily exposed within our nation will start to look friendly by comparison to what the desperation wrought by austerity would bring out.

Of course, if the majority of the newsmedia was actually focused on informing and both pointing out and dispelling cognitive dissonance, we'd all be better for it. Unfortunately, we have a major network entirely built on it, as one of the many toxic planks in the crooked Rupert Murdoch's empire. They've fought for the right to lie and deceive in court and won - a very American story, a so-called news network winning the right to deceive its viewers in court. That, too, tells you where we are, and ultimately part of how we've landed ourselves in this era of what is effectively politically branded tribalism rooted frequently in ignorance. Political parties are treated as sports teams by a disturbing number of the comfortably ignorant masses. It's increasingly apparent that we're just not cut out modern or postmodern civilization, and our proudly exalted founding fathers were some naive motherfuckers - that much is clear. And the Constitution itself is a fatally flawed document to the very end, as much as we watch conservatives revere it, while all the same time rallying to alter it to restrict and take away freedoms, and otherwise to write bigotry into it.

Following now are some short asides, starting on the Constitution and the problem of guns in America - I haven't even gotten to my horribly late forthcoming post on the tragic gun violence we've seen throughout the year, from Trayvon Martin to The Dark Knight Rises massacre.

The Constitution does not guarantee the right to personal firearm ownership for the fun of shooting cans off your fence or, y'know, whatever. Nor does it grant the right to own them in order to live out personal fantasies of violent vigilantism. Nor does it grant the right to bear firearms designed to kill huge numbers of people in a short period of time without reloading. It doesn't even guarantee the right to stockpile arms and ammunition in case 'something happens.' We've seen record gun and ammunition sales since Barack Obama was elected in 2008 amid a level of paranoia beyond the usual schizoid/GOP histrionics about how electing a Democrat will be the end of the nation that we hear every damn election cycle. It only gets shriller and more disturbed each cycle. And if Obama is reelected today, we will see more of this. One party is defending this sort of mindset when it comes to firearms and has successfully enshrined it in American culture, aided by the dangerously powerful NRA. This party is not the Democrats.

Of course, with the Republicans, we're talking about a party of people who believe firmly that America was founded on personal liberty, unless they don't like how you'd exercise your liberty, say, through the right of reproductive choice or the very notion extending full civil rights to the LGBT community. So much for that freedom thing.

Then again, this 'freedom,' in their lexicon, is just another word for deregulating corporations and letting them both run and devastate our society. After all, if you're a corporation, you're a person, and if you're truly free, then nothing is unethical. Like all those perfectly legal and perfectly crooked means Romney rather clearly used to dodge paying a fair tax rate for so long. And naturally, corporations shouldn't have to pay taxes, either - they may be people, but freedom naturally means freedom from the responsibility to the rest of the society you participate in in the first place. You can totally be the guy who bursts into the party uninvited, steals all the chips, and leaves, flipping everybody off.

Also, for a party that supposedly has so much respect for democracy, it's been interesting to watch the Republicans continue to hurl accusations at the Democrats of plots to steal elections year after year of my adult life. All while openly attempting to suppress the vote and steal elections themselves, in an era where their viability is, in the least, being threatened by America's ever-increasing racial and ethnic diversity. Something that is in itself a great national strength to be celebrated.

In Romney, we've had a candidate who, in his visible contempt for the electorate, has attempted to keep as much of his life and record secret. And month after month this year, we've heard about one aspect or another of Romney's life being off-limits, from the business record he's supposedly running on - one full of loading up companies with debt, raiding pension funds, and destroying thousands of lives - to his religion. And, you know, I can almost empathize with the scrutiny one's religion must get when it involves wacky things like white Native American angels, magical golden tablets, magic underwear, and a history of polygamy from people who believe in immaculate conception, talking burning bushes, and that they're eating and drinking pieces of their savior at church functions. (Church janitors have the roughest jobs. All that blood and flesh left on the floor.) Except, of course, as an atheist, I'm part of the most widely despised religious minority in America in my outright lack of religion, and I'll be long dead before we ever see an atheist run for the presidency taken seriously, because hey, despite that constitutional stuff, we've obviously gotta elect somebody who believes in some pretty crazy stuff from an old book. I mean, believing in none of that? Who does that? Next thing you know, you're going to tell us the scientific method isn't just some wacky alternative to religion WHY DON'T YOU GO MARRY A PETRI DISH.

That was needlessly intense. Let's get back to the nonsense at the RNC, shall we?

'We Built It.' Making talk of self-reliance into Republican code for, "If you're suffering, it's your fault, you don't get a safety net - fuck you." What we saw on display with that nationally embarrassing theme was that if you question a Republican businessman, he gets upset and needs to prove to you that he's a self-made man who owes nobody any share of the credit for his successes. This is called insecurity. This is a long-time driving force in the Republican party.

Of course, the GOP message also includes that self-congratulatory millionaires and billionaires of America today who feel they've 'won' don't have to pay taxes or contribute back to the public. They feel their 'contributions' should all be profit-driven. But these people didn't 'build' this country, and they couldn't have built anything they did if the vast majority of them hadn't come from privilege in the first place. These individuals pretend to protect the American dream, but then ultimately define the American dream as little more than running a successful business, as though entrepreneurship is the only thing worth doing in human existence. But hey, starting a small business, then facing a leveraged buyout from Bain Capital and watching vulture capitalists happily snort your pension funds? You weren't really planning on retiring, were you? In this economy? Better vote in some Republicans so they can strike down those job-killing regulations and protect that job you no longer have. If you let the wealthy have all the money, you can have any job you want - just don't expect to get paid.

In America today, rich white men think they're entitled to everything, along with the entirety of the credit to any and all successes they've experienced in their lives. Their interests are the very spine of today's Republican party. And it was that shrill, petulant cry that dominated the RNC this year - self-victimizing braggarts are not so much the people most empathize with, when they're already complaining from a position of incredible privilege, out of touch with how most people live. These are the people in the minority that benefit from Grover Norquist's poisonous pledge - the very dangerous, irresponsible pledge that made the Republican party the enemy of the American people as a whole.

All this 'We Built It' braggadocio stinks of the idea that these wealthy, entitled men just raised their hands and ushered their businesses forth from the grounds below, as though wearing the sorcerer's hat in Fantasia, ignoring that it was labor that built their businesses, and as the suits on top managing things, their own personal labor was in many terms the least part of the equation. Naturally, this is the party that's proudly nearly killed unionized labor, to what should be our considerable national shame. We like to pretend that any workers' rights are now a gift bestowed by the great Job Creator out of the kindness of their hearts, not something people spent centuries fighting for, and like women with their reproductive rights, must sadly struggle to retain. We're not allowed to make progress and keep focusing on moving forward - we got to a certain point in the twentieth century, and since then, we've been fighting constantly to retain that which we fought for, with no room to move beyond that, facing a relentless tide seeking to sweep us as far back into the Dark Ages as possible. We've yet to truly escape. In this postmodern era, feudalism threatens to swallow up our modernity. Civilization Dada. Without all the positives Dada entailed.

Throughout the RNC, Republican businessmen stood up and gave speeches about their personal success. Completely missing in these stories was that these people are not Randian heroes who conjured up their financial success through rugged, self-possessed gumption and genius business acumen - and many of them had connections and all sorts of help and luck that they naturally give no credit to - and that they all relied on labor to get them where they are. Within the Republican party, labor is thankless. On Labor Day this year, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor spat in labor's face by praising management instead. North Carolina and Florida housed this year's conventions. North Carolina and Florida are both Right-to-Work states - a term which sounds positive on the surface (Making it an easy sell, like the GOP's Clean Air Act in the Bush years, which actually served to enable polluters), but is largely a law passed time and time again to suppress unions and prevent union formation as much as possible. Only 2.9% of the North Carolinian workforce is unionized. This hurts workers in the long run. It's on the backs of these people that all successful entrepreneurs make their money, and on whom all major businesses depend to keep things running. And it's an especially thankless job without union representation to fight for better pay, benefits, and further rights.

The Democrats often keep the labor issue tragically at arm's length, while the Republicans are outright hostile to union labor, effectively arguing time and time again that in order to compete with the outsourcing of labor to third world nations where workers lacking in rights are easily exploited, we too much strip our workers of their rights, working conditions, living wages, and more. That we must essentially become a feudal third world nation ourselves in order to 'bring the jobs home.'

Despite GOP mythology, the fact is that in reality, the 'You didn't build that!' sentiment applies to more than just infrastructure. Nobody running a business in America built that entirely on their own - no business in America is successful in a vacuum without inside input. All businesses are built upon and rely upon their hired labor for success, as well as the existent government infrastructure - both physical and legal - to exist in the first place, and ultimately upon luck. There is no such thing as a business that was successful without luck. As much as the GOP loves to revere this Randian image, there is no such thing as the prodigy businessman savior whose brilliance and personal hard work alone paved the way to tremendous success. This is a lie by which the American people have been shamed and abused for far too long.

RNC speakers intended to inspire had but the same story over and over: 'I was poor and now I'm rich!' Implicit, of course, is 'Vote for our party and you'll be rich too!' (Pyramid scheme politics!) As though wealth-seeking entrepreneurs are the only Americans who really matter, the only ones pursuing something that can be called the American Dream. It's a theme we've seen time and time again throughout this campaign. Even but weeks ago, Romney and Ryan were attempting to woo women voters in Ohio, and naturally disregarding the explicitly misogynistic Republican party platform, focused on telling women, "We can help you become entrepreneurs!" Again, a giant blind spot.

Among the convention's other trite slogans was 'We Can Do Better,' with the implication that today's Republican policies, even more extreme than those of the Bush administration but a few years ago, are the panacea to our nation's woes. Especially the economic ones - apparently in the Republican party, the American dream is nothing more than entrepreneurship. If corporations are people, apparently we should all aspire to be corporations unto ourselves - as literally as possible. In reality, our current economic woes aren't due to some dramatically different Democratic economy. Thanks to years of non-stop obstructionism from a party that swore upon Obama's election that their number one goal was to prevent his reelection by preventing him and the Democrats from enacting policy, we're all suffering under a prolonged, relapsed economic crisis in a stagnant Republican economy. We never cast off the shackles of Republican economic policy because of the party's refusal to allow Obama and the Democrats to enact policy, repeatedly threatening to shut down the government and filibustering as much legislation as possible, shutting down virtually all meaningful policy discussion and demonstrating how unfortunately broken our government truly is when one of our two major parties refuses to allow it to function. What Romney and Ryan promise, with the rest of today's Republican party, is more of the very sort of disastrous policy that led us into this situation in the first place.
We can do better, and we should do better. That would entail reelecting Obama and a strong Democratic majority to both houses of congress in order to end the constant filibusters and necessity of a supermajority, finally paving the way for them to actually enact Democratic policy and bring about the change from the Bush era policies they were elected to enact in the first place. Thanks to a historically unprecedented amount of the dirtiest, most obstructive and destructive, divisive politics, "that hopey changey stuff," as a certain now persona non grata individual once called it, was effectively shut down as the Republicans largely successfully blocked President Obama from meaningful pursuit of the very policy changes the American people elected him to bring about. In short, rather than acting as a check or balance to the Obama administration these past four years, we've watched the Republican party at its dirtiest in recent memory as it has outright circumvented democracy and effectively insisted that unless they're in power, government isn't allowed to function and policy isn't allowed to be enacted. This is a party that has become increasingly known for their inveterate dedication to mythology, casually lying to the public to justify their continued work against their interests, and their refusal to acknowledge any fact that contradicts their increasingly dangerous policies.

The fact that this party continues to remain viable says nothing great of the character of the American people, let alone of any hope for future broad prosperity or stability. Long-term stability of any nation or civilization is, of course, functionally impossible, as something that flies right in the face of human nature itself, but you'd think we as a nation would be capable of rising just far enough above delusion to avoid voting ourselves back into serfdom.

An ideal beginning would lie in regaining our respect for labor. Perhaps recalling that we once realized that as a collective group, we've been capable of great things that benefited us all. That whole notion is pretty much the centerpiece of democracy - or it was before the Supreme Court sold it to the wealthy.

It's abundantly clear at this point that a disturbing number of Americans actually like the idea of being ruled by a fascist dictator, so long as said dictator's a good white Christian man who knows the importance of keeping the Job Creators happy by eliminating all taxation of the wealthy and corporations, ending the separation of church and state so long as it's in good ol' Jesus's name that you do that, ensuring that women have no reproductive rights and that those icky gay people can't ruin marriage for everybody else by sucking all the holy light out of it with their love for an individual of the same sex, and affirming that health care access is a privilege for those who can afford to pay the insurance and pharmaceutical companies whatever the hell exorbitant fees they feel like charging. Maybe if you work hard and pull yourself by your bootstraps, someday you can get rich and join the ruling class, too. By the way, no more social mobility for you, and also, if you try to unionize, look forward to going to jail. Let's see if we can make Eugene Debs rise from his grave and haunt this damn country as a raging poltergeist! In any nation, there is no 'us' and 'them' among its people - there's the whole of the electorate, and the government works for all of us. Those who seek to rule us through unchecked, absolute control of the government processes as the GOP does, are effectively pursuing the end of this flawed American experiment in democracy.

It's also telling that the GOP largely no longer even acknowledges the eight years of George W. Bush that preceded Obama's first term. His political legacy hung over this year's convention like a shroud, much as it did their convention in 2008. This is a party that began to condemn the Obama administration and adamantly insist that their policies had 'failed' within mere days after the inauguration. They've even attempted to rewrite history by claiming - even Romney himself at the RNC - that the country had 'united' following the 2008 election and they were all rooting for him to succeed. There's no lack of record that this could not be further from the truth, and looking back, there were more bald-faced lies than even half truths coming out this year's Republican National Convention.

So again, it's telling that the GOP did everything they could to ignore the veritable ghost of George W. Bush's presidency and foist the blame for the catastrophic results of his administration entirely on Obama. They repudiated him severely over and over for failing to fix the problems their party and their politics - over eight years, at least six of which enabled by a rapidly expanding and virtually unchecked executive branch - caused in the first place. They spent the entirety of Obama's first term abusing the filibuster like never before in American history to cripple his presidency, outright fighting against the best interests of the American people at every turn in order to prolong the current misery and stagnation much of this nation faces in hope of destroying the entirety of the 'hope' message Obama had campaigned on in the first place and drawing the same voters back to their party. In short, they inflicted grievous wounds on our nation over the two Bush administration terms, blocked as many efforts as possible by the Obama administration and Democrats to begin a national recovery from those disastrous years, and proceeded to throw salt on an already battered nation's wounds. Now they expect us to vote for them again - a party that refuses to accept a loss and allow their opponents to govern, the party whose politics got us into this mess in the first place, the party that has only shifted further to the extreme right over the past four years in reaction to their defeat in 2008 by the nation's first non-white president - when everything about their politics has only gotten more regressive, reductive, and flat out dangerous over the past several years. Like the McCain/Palin ticket in 2008, Romney, Ryan, and the Republicans are once again insisting that since the disease successfully resisted our attempt at a cure, it's time to vote disease again. It's time to double down on the policies that largely haven't changed and move even further to the right. See that void down below, from the edge of this cliff we've barely been hanging onto since the end of the Bush years? It's time to let go and jump.

When one party refuses to allow the other to govern when they're legitimately elected as single-mindedly as today's Republican party now does, when we're not allowed to budge from right-wing politics even slightly and have no choice but to plunge over the edge deeper and deeper into extreme right territory - which historically has never worked out well for the people of any nation - and when that party's gained a tremendous advantage as a result of our democracy having been sold wholesale to corporations and the wealthy by the Supreme Court, we no longer have a functioning government, let another a functioning democracy. Right now, America is teetering on the brink of dark times, having already been largely submerged in the Bush years, and frayed further by Obama and the Democrats being constantly held back by the Republicans since his inauguration in 2009. At this point, hope and change seem to have been effectively drowned. If Romney and Ryan are elected in November, and the Republicans manage to gain majorities in both houses of congress, it will be, and so too will effectively be this nation. We're already somewhere awful, but we're nowhere near the bottom - if the Republicans end up getting the big wins they're gunning for in November, there's no coming back from where we're going, let alone where we are now. If Obama and the Democrats were hope in 2008, we've already seen that hope blighted by despair. Having taken up the mantle of the party of despair for many years now, the Republicans have successfully brought us to a tipping point. Do we fight for the future, or do we succumb to the continual cancerous outgrowth of these seemingly endless Dark Ages? Things aren't looking good. These days, Americans aren't making any effective counterargument to my own documented suspicion that we're a species sprinting toward extinction. In the hands of our 'patriotic' authoritarian party of the Job Creators, the end of America as we know it is well in view.

If we can't even have functioning government in the 21st damn century, as I've observed ad nauseum, we're just not meant for much as a species.

Overshadowing everything else at this year's RNC was the appearance by Clint Eastwood, an old Hollywood celebrity - and everyone knows how the GOP loves Hollywood, I mean, Reagan! - talking to a chair. Talking to himself, he appeared to have little awareness of what the GOP and Romney were actually campaigning on. And he apparently he forgot that most of our founding fathers, venerated as they are, were lawyers too. Naive ones, apparently, in retrospect. Not even they anticipated how terribly we'd turn out.

The open hypocrisy was entertaining, too. Typically, you'll find no lack of angry people on Twitter and other social media telling comedians and writers to shut up about politics. I've noticed a trend of these individuals' own twitter feeds being a dull morass of sports tweets. It's always those guys who get mad at comedians and writers and tell them to shut up about politics. They've made politics into a form of tribalism, much like professional sports - the NFL, NBA, and MLB, in particular - about nothing more than picking a team and rabidly demanding its victory. The GOP wants celebrities to shut up about politics unless they support theirs. And when they get ones that do, they're often incoherent, whether Clint Eastwood, Kid Rock, or Meatloaf. Kind of a shame seeing this is where Eastwood's mind is, considering his legacy as an actor and proven talent as a director. Letters from Iwo Jima tells a side of World War II more people could stand to learn about.
And now, if you managed to wade through all that - even if I said a lot of redundant things - reward yourself with the last few things I have to say.

A few months back, I watched an episode of Real Time with Bill Maher (The August 31st, 2012 show) featuring Ron Christie and Dinesh D'Souza. Bill called them out repeatedly on the lies they continually touted. They didn't even flinch in the face of facts - this goes back at least to the inception of Conservapedia, the conservative reaction to Wikipedia, a rewriting of history and reality in the rejection of Wikipedia's own strident requirements for proper citation of reliable sources for articles to keep them grounded in truth. In effect, Conservapedia is a vandalism of reality, of history, in its attempt to rewrite both in following the party line of a political party that rejects these things for all the inconveniences they pose - largely in exposing how dishonest, hypocritical, unethical, and outright dangerous their party's politics are. What we're witnessing here is the political disease becoming drug-resistant, so to speak - when exposed to facts, when their lies are exposed, when reality is brought to the table, the disease only responds more aggressively, rejecting reality when it should wither.

Interestingly, for all the talk of a Democrat enthusiasm gap threatening to derail the election, that wasn't even remotely at the DNC - especially in contrast to the rather bleak RNC, where it was already the end of the world and Obama was the antichrist.

The debates were largely depressing affairs. Romney lied constantly and wasn't politically hurt for it, even when called out. Obama was barely there for the first debate. The VP debate was a surprising highlight, between Paul Ryan's failure to shine as the Republicans' current Randian golden boy, whose policies are dangerous for the vast majority of the country, with a strong, spirited performance from Joe Biden and actual journalism from moderator Martha Raddatz. A stark contrast to Jim Lehrer, who in the first debate, just kept asking the candidates to tell us how they're different and allowed them to constantly break debate rules. Candy Crowley didn't quite match Martha Raddatz in the third debate, but wasn't bad, either. I actually missed the third presidential debate, accidentally sleeping through it, but I read the transcripts, and Lehrer seemed weaker than the two women, though above Lehrer in terms of presence, at least. In none of these debates was climate change discussed. Then super storm Hurricane Sandy came and smashed through much of the eastern seaboard, devastating parts of New York City and many parts of New England. We're going to see storms that make Sandy look tame sooner than we realize.

Time to close things.

It's easy to be cynical. Perhaps too easy. I would know - I'm a tremendous cynic, as I've long established on this caustic little corner I've carved out for myself on the internet. And when you're a cynic, it's far too easy to excuse apathy, but there's no excuse for apathy when it comes to what we could be. Our options this year may not be the greatest, but we have to be reasonable and work with what we've got, then work upward from there. Even if it doesn't work out, even if we get burned, it's of vital importance that we not back down. Sure, I'm just a nobody writing on a nowhere blog speaking to a void occupied by billions of people, only some of whom are the huge number of apathetic and often ignorant American citizens who routinely neglect to exercise their civic right and duty to participate in the democratic process. But even that being the case, these things are worth saying. I'm misanthropic to the point of being hopeless for humanity's future, but even if it's a hopeless fight, we should still fight it to the very last. We should fight this battle, if for nothing else, to say that we're capable of better than this, and that we know it. Polls are about to close across the nation as I post this. These words will affect nothing, and probably no one. I've still written them, even if it's a horrible mess of a post, stitched together from months of incomplete posts. I'm posting them anyway. For all the nasty things I've brought up in terms of human nature, over the course of these months of messy, interconnected thought patterns and arguments, it's human nature, too, to keep fighting to the last in hopeless conditions. There are things worth fighting for, even if there's no hope. Our future, all of our futures, are among them.

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