Let’s Buy a President

“We can’t win.” “They’re out-raising us.” “This is it.” Every day my inbox brings me messages from people with names followed by “Obama for America” or “Move On” or any of a dozen others delivering the dire news that we haven’t given the President enough money to win the election. My phone rings every afternoon around 5 pm with calls from somebody on behalf of the DNC or the President–the sort of calls where the pause between your answer and the caller coming on the line let you know that you’re hearing from a call center somewhere Out There. Sometimes I answer and tell them “do not call.” Sometimes I tell them I will manage my own contributions without their intrusiveness. I told one of them that I gave until I bled last time and now I’m unemployed. Most of the time I just don’t answer.

Of course I know it’s important–more than important–whether someone with a shred of sanity or honor (i.e., Obama) wins this election. Of course I give my paltry tithe of political contributions. Of course I know that corporations are people and that we mustn’t mess with their bizarrely collective personhood, populated and fueled by a good many people who disagree with the meta-person’s politics. And I know that the Borg is a collective, and the Supreme Court would find them to be a person too if political “speech” were their style. But it’s money, not plasma beams or the conversations of an informed citizenry that constitutes “speech” these days. Pay for the ad or take to the streets. And as we can see, taking to the streets didn’t do a whole hell of a lot except supply media entertainment between elections.

Among today’s voters is the third generation of Americans that has suckled at the breast of consumerism their entire lives. Since the regular appearances of the neighborly Carnation man in “The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show” we have extruded ever more viscous, suffocating media that bring us advertising about pizza, weight loss, laundry products, cereal, cars and presidents. Adding this to the transformation of “news” to a form of “entertainment”, I figure each generation has lost approximately 1/3 of its capacity to think critically in this toxic soup–to mash up Marshall McLuhan and a famous ad for dishwashing liquid, it’s the soup you can’t see. And we’re running on the last 1/3 of critical thinking and informed citizenship.

Everyone knows this. We all have to pay up or face the consequences. The waste of resources and mind-power that is the Presidential Auction and Ad Campaign may be judged to be constitutional, but it’s obscene.


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