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“I think anybody who’s occupied…office has to remember that success is determined by an intersection in policy and politics and that you can’t be neglecting of marketing and P.R. and public opinion.”
Fact: Marketing and PR has won this election–public opinion is being swayed by the constant appearance of single-sentence messages. The midterms have become one long tiresome ad campaign with slogans that say nothing but put those smiling fake faces of rich incumbents in front of our toothless selves. Incumbent is a dirty word. These are people for the most part too afraid to stand up for anything. We never know who’s in whose pocket and with that I say what most of us are thinking: Even if a decent person with the best intentions wins it won’t bring us closer to….anything resembling change.
We are not listening, we are not making change.
Will Rogers put it better than me: “If elections were meant to change anything, politicians would make them illegal.”
The Tea Party is scary, seemingly devoid of a caring bone, and replete with ideas that are less than sensible; but like Newt Gingrich in Midterm ’94 this nuttiness will be gone soon and we’ll move onto something that looks like it’s helping people who need it the most But the question remains: What difference does it make while the incumbents keep winning and bipartisanship is a well-played joke.
Who is making off like bandits this political season? Thousands of ad campaign strategists flooding the DVR’d airwaves (and our Internet hours) with ignorable notions that are not swaying anyone with that blurry rhetoric. The undecideds don’t give a crap about attack ads; and often it makes them want to vote for the underdog. I keep hearing about the celebrity campaigner and it’s working–except, G-d love them, in California!
Are you famous for being a wrestler wife? Are you well known as witchy? Did you help trample a protester? Did your kid get into a sex scandal? Have you said something so loony that everyone on YouTube can’t get enough of ? Then you might get people out to vote. Good for you. At least you riled them up.
If Linda McMahon wins in Connecticut, that means the “CEO who can run a company ” joke really does fool the people. Connecticut residents forget we heard that charade with George W. Bush, a CEO who couldn’t run a marathon or a company and yet won on a similar platform. Connecticut – where I live – seems to get what it deserves from its politicians.
I was once sure grassroots politics would take hold in this nation–and not only would we help elect President Barack Obama but we’d run to the streets, our neighbors, and our phone banks to assure policies we believed in were understood and “bought in” by our neighbors and loved ones. But no one talks about politics anymore; they’re too busy tapping away on a Droid or a Pad. People may remark on someone’s antics but it’s all showbiz. And they don’t know what the difference is anymore.
We tweet or use status updates and IM or SMS about a particularly inane particular moment on The Daily Show “about that guy in Kentucky who really believes this shit”–but we don’t discuss who should win and how to get our community what it needs, and give reasons why politics COULD make a different that their pals would trust and give a second thought to. You don’t need a study to know that people get excited when their friends are passionate about anything.
What happened to this nation of shit-kickers? Aldus Huxley predicted our demise as communicative beings: machines that keep our attention and keep us looking down. It’s now more important to see who texted us than making contact with one another. While change is well and good, it can’t just happen and that’s that. It has to be managed–just like your plumber or lawyer! And that means you have to look up from your smart phone for an hour to prove to those who respect you (who want to hear it if you take the time) that they can make a difference by standing up for what they – and you – believe in.
It’s also probable that what we do in our homes is regrettable. You can’t be revolutionary if you’re calm and comfy and feeling all right. In the ’60s politics was about being uncomfortable enough to jump up and force the politicians to hear the people. Nowadays I’m haunted by Rufus Wainright singing: “Who knows what all these new drugs do?”
Standing up for what’s right is no longer about waiting. Incumbents vote a straight party line (check out maudlin Rep. Mary Bono Mack in Palm Springs who has voted the Republican line without blinking her entire career) in order to keep their committee spots and donors slap-happy. None of these people have balls; have no idea of how to make a difference; and thus no right to keep their job. If Republican Congress 2011 begins to unravel Obama’s bills then we have no one to blame because we didn’t do anything to help market the idea that matter!
“The only thing we learn from new elections is we learned nothing from the old.” – Proverb
Hope has become a slogan and marketing pros are commandeering the word more than ever. Right now there’s a Richard Nelson play at the Public Theater mocking politics calledThat Hopey, Changy Thing! We listen to Palin and her cronies because they entertain us with their outlandish quoteables. We aren’t listening to The Normal Guy running without a change purse…the one who might stand up and say “Stop the grandstanding. Our country is in the toilet and we need to work together to fix it.”
Witness: In 2006 in Hudson Valley NY, John Hall won a stunning victory against a six-term Republican. He was given slim to no odds–even though he had been lead singer of ’70s adult contemporary staple Orleans and kind of famous (Dance With Me). But the Congresswoman who ran against him made the mistake of loudly equating gay marriage with sinning and a rich homosexual donor gave Hall all the money he needed to defeat that lady. It wasn’t a squeaker either!
I saw it as money well spent but two terms later Rep. Hall is silent on issues that matter. And he’s now the incumbent, rock solid and not really standing up.
Money talks. You need expensive strategists to get you on TV to say something worthy. Tea Party candidates have Koch and Murdoch and a lot of souls who think our country is worse off because of what they deem to be the mistake of 2008. The only ones getting through to us are the Tea-supported kookpots like Rand Paul, whose Dad was actually an interesting character. Rand Paul is the guy who said “Child labor laws are unfair”! Rand Paul could actually win.
Yeah I know. Dancing With The Stars is on in a few hours. That will take our attention away from what’s important. I guess unless realistic politics becomes a celebrated telethon hosted by George Clooney on 36 networks simultaneously we won’t be able to hope for anything besides silence from these fools for a few months while we shop for Christmas gifts. Get me a sweater.
And vote Tuesday. If you’re out west give Whitman a drubbing for $104 million spent pretending to care. Your newbie might not change anything but he can’t be worse than these immovable fools that got us here. Or you could be like Jay Leno who announced with glee: “If G-d had wanted us to vote, he’d have given us candidates.”
…….I’m hosting a live discussion on the meaning of Election ’10 on November 2, 9 AM E.T., along with David Brancaccio, Steve Cone and others. Please come and comment. This is part of my series with Geoff Livingston called “The El Show”. For details: http://bit.ly/TheEL-ectionShow. . If you miss it, check the archive. Oh and tweet me all day: @laermer