Sunday, October 12, 2008


Why? Are citizens disengaged from the political process, as suggested? This is a matter of enormous import. Should we take it, as the professor suggests, that only policy wonks know anything substantive about candidates for high office, and if true, why? How is it that newspapers often have an entire section devoted to sports, containing the most arcane and complex statistics and analyses of athletics, yet we never see a "Politics" section with daily complex statistics and analyses. Why? Academics report the "scientific" details of opinion polls, but don't answer the question about the pink elephant in the room. Could it be that citizens feel more deeply connected to sports, than to politics? I don't know anyone who acts or speaks as if they have ANY political power. Policy wonks know much about candidates because they're theoretical, enjoying the abstract world of ideas. Humans don't seem fit to live 80 years knowing they are powerless. We humans will go to extraordinary lengths to avoid confronting our own powerlessness. The financial world crumbles, and hundred of millions of people are effectively invisible. Don't count. Don't exist. Jingoism and American football are the last refuges of the desperately disenfranchised many.

Like masochists, policy wonks of the Left wade through the masses of political "information" whereas the more psychologically well-adjusted go bowling. Why get beat up and abandoned every four years? It's like he movie Groundhog Day in Washington D.C. instead of Punxsutawney PA.

Maybe pretending, lying to ourselves that the Big Game is more important than the Big Election, is a healthy response to reality. The little lie which we offer ourselves surreptitiously is a constructive adaptive response to the Big Lie of the election that doesn't matter.

When I am in a small group of people deciding where to have dinner, the process takes an almost instinctual process. People make suggestions, offer choices, then articulate their preferences-- "I'm not really up for Chinese, shall we do Italian? There's this great little place over on 23rd Street that makes great lasagna..." Negotiation, maneuvering, cajoling, insisting--sure some stay silent but everyone has a sense of empowerment--more or less. People in such settings don't seek distractions or dive deeply into denial.

Something is very much amiss with the American power system, with politics. It's broken, and everyone knows it--except TV, corporate TV--which is heavily on crack in avoidance of reality. TV, lest we not forget, is owned and operated by very, very rich people .They get very nervous when the people who don't own the TV stations (all 300 million of us) face the abuse of power, see that their own powerlessness as a condition of the abuse of the power elite rather than a reflection on themselves. When people know they are powerless and know the truth of the abuse of power, they often overcome enormous obstacles--and act.

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