Be Careful What You Wish For

Central New Yorkers have finally gotten a glimpse into the workings of big-time electoral politics. Due to the number of close NY Congressional races, all of them potentially able to help flip control of the House from the Republican party to the Democratic party, we aren’t being ignored this year. Campaign ads clog our airwaves, famous people traipse through our towns to plug their proteges and national news reports often have upstate bylines.

Man, it’s enough to make you nostalgic for the days when everyone took our vote for granted. How many times have we said we wanted to be dealt into the national conversation but our late primary and bluer-than-blue affiliation made us an afterthought?

Who would have thought that the national political conversation was so Shakespearean: “Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more: it is a tale
told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” (Macbeth)

The problem is that there is no modern political conversation, just the old-fashioned discussions we have always had amongst ourselves. Modern corporate capitalism has converted the way politicians campaign, and has in turn changed the way elected officials govern. It’s all about the Benjamins–you need bucks to hire consultants, set up your airwar media campaign, send out direct mail solicitations, staff phone banks, commission polls etc. Raising and spending money is the everyday skillset needed to be a successful politician. So it should not come as any surprise that they hang out with people who either have or know how to get money.

The result is a government that looks more like a bazaar than a legislative body. Our politicians are like parents that buy their kids toys instead of spending quality time at home.


2 thoughts on “Be Careful What You Wish For

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  1. unfortunately, we get what we ask for. we are a culture that has stopped reading, and that no longer wants to take the time to be in the present, as balogh so poignantly noted in his recent essay. our great cultural interests are on display at the checkouts at wegmans: brad, britney, the simpson sisters … served up with bright photos, brief cutlines and short stories. easier to make a judgement based on inconsequential 30-second ads than to have to sit and deal with history and reality …

    the saddam hanging, to me, is the perfect example: nowhere in the news coverage is the troubling discussion of how he was our buddy in the early 1980s, don rumsfeld’s dinner partner, during a period when he was doing things that we now say he deserves to be hung for; there is no solemnity, no introspection, no look at real events. a hanging becomes a prop in the campaign, soon to be gawked at and then forgotten.

    our politicians would rather buy us toys than sit and talk with us at the dinner table for one reason: as a community and a country, we’re fine with that.



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