Monday, February 4, 2013

The Essence of Politics

My kids like to watch youtube videos—never unsupervised, of course. Sometimes we watch videos of cats doing funny things, for the younger kids. Sometimes we watch videos of Barry Sanders or Walter Payton. Fortunately, youtube is not without opportunities for education. The best videos are educational and funny. This is one of those.

She likes Obama just because she got a phone. Some people! I mean, these welfare types are out of control, right? But whoever this woman is, she did an amazing thing, despite the condescending tone of the guy behind the camera. In twenty-five seconds she exposes the foundation of our whole political process, and that's something that most people who claim to be knowledgeable about politics couldn't accurately describe if you gave them an hour to do it. Thanks to this brief youtube video my kids know it.

The thing that caught my attention was her honesty. Obama gives me stuff, so I like him. Simple. And that's really what politics is all about. A politician tells one group of people that he will take the property of another group to give to the first group. This is how he (or she, to be fair) wins. You can't prove otherwise unless you use Ron Paul as an example. HL Mencken put it this way: "The state, or, to make matters more concrete, the government, consists of a gang of men exactly like you and me. They have, taking one with another, no special talent for the business of government; they have only a talent for getting and holding office. Their principal device to that end is to search out groups who pant and pine for something they can't get, and to promise to give it to them. Nine times out of ten that promise is worth nothing. The tenth time it is made good by looting "A" to satisfy "B". In other words, government is a broker in pillage, and every election is a sort of advanced auction on stolen goods." So this woman in Cleveland is simply more honest than, well, probably you. Most people think they're voting for an ideology, or for someone who will Do The Right Thing, or maybe even for the Lesser Of Two Evils, but probably they're just voting for the guy who says he will get more of the things he and people like him think are right, and the people who are wrong will get less, and also pay for the things that are right. Although, of course, we must all Do Our Part and Pay Our Fair Share. There's really no getting around that.

After a few views I noticed something else. Her critique of Romney was hilarious and also accurate, but it was also typical of most political dialogue. "He sucks—bad!" That sums it up from both sides. Because no one could come right out and be honest about their motivations—we like the warfare state! We like the welfare state!—the whole world was stuck with two years of vapid, vacuous, verbosity that got us nowhere but the same place as always. For two years there were endless speeches about who would spend the most money in the worst way, or about who would invade which countries, or whose nonexistent plan was better, or who spent more on a haircut, or who bullied someone back in the day, or who didn't have the requisite experience to do any of the above mentioned things. And then everyone took sides, but didn't really know why. Here's this lady who says Obama gave her a phone and Romney sucks, and you think you can do better? Do you really think that voting for Romney because "He's a Mormon!" or "He's a conservative!" or "He's a good businessman!" is better? Guess what, you're on Cleveland Lady's level. Those aren't arguments or rational thoughts, those are emotions, and that's all you had, because Romney never had a plan for anything. Tell me what it was. Yeah, that's what I thought. No plan, just saying the right words, tailored just for you, the target audience. He never had anything better than "Obama sucks—bad!" and neither did you.

The only real sway any politician has comes from what he has promised to take from someone else to give to you, whether it's a phone or a fleet of new (yet nearly obsolete) airplanes and bombs to go with them, or maybe a whole stack of new debt to fund the "cleanup project" you're "working" on, or maybe even those green jobs we've been hearing so much about for so long. You might as well be honest and get a new phone.


Greg S said...

I don't see how you be a follower of Jesus Christ AND be for the state, which at its foundation and in its operation violates almost all of the ten commandments.

isaac stanfield said...

Well, yeah, after a bit of rational thought that should be the logical conclusion. But, if your actual god is the state—even if you don't realize it—or even if a little bit of the state is wrapped up in your religious practice, then I guess it doesn't induce cognitive dissonance to do both.

So, you're right. If a person doesn't understand the foundation of a belief, that person may unwittingly be practicing idolatry.