brian carroll on 13 Oct 2000 05:22:27 -0000

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[Nettime-bold] US presidential election

 democracy is a question, an experiment

 the US Presidential election is a test

 both 2 party candidates share similar views

 policy differences, but the same campaign pitch

 Bush, a simple, common-folk Texan, says it all
 boils down to education. That is his litmus test
 for the culture, and how it will be transformed.
 Foreign Policy, Health Care for the Elderly, Tax
 Cuts, and Privatizing Social Security are the
 foundations for his transformation of America,
 and the World.
                The scariest thing about Bush is
 his simplicity. when challenged on his ideas, he
 is aghast, that his ideas are not accepted de facto,
 as if in `good faith.' Bush's response to Gore's
 questioning his policies was that he felt Gore was
 questioning ~the goodness of his heart.~ paradoxes
 reigned in the 2nd debate, with Bush eerily repeated
 3 separate times that he is putting three Texans
 to death (`The Ultimate Punishment'). His campaign
 seemed to focus on `the golden rule'; `love your
 neighbor like yourself', with which Gore agreed,
 and Bush's final statement was like that of the
 popular 80s television preachers. He had a saintly
 and innocent look, naive, and full of faith and
 belief in his own powers to lead `the world's
 most powerful country' into security and sanctity.
 Most interesting of his policy points, besides
 acknowledging the disdain for Americans around
 the world, was his statement that he would
 consider canceling `Third World' nation's debt,
 if their policy jives with American interests.

 Gore, while still a traditional politician, has
 many policy differences, yet has focussed his
 campaign on Bush's 'Education as #1 priority'
 issue. Environment, Civil Rights, Technology,
 all come in second place to having every child
 being able to read, as a cure for all societal
 ills. (For Bush, it seems, if this doesn't
 work, it will be because of people's bad faith
 and will reinforce the need for incarceration
 of deviants; those who are not simple people
 with simple values). The issue of global warming,
 for example, was dismissed by Bush because it
 needs 'good' or `better science' compared to
 what environmental science is today, whatever
 is meant by that. The media are definitely
 controlling the image and the issues in this
 election. There is no critical analysis of
 Bush's record, only his personality. It is
 not just a presidential popularity contest,
 based on policy, but now it seems only to be
 based on like-ability.

 This common person approach, some kind of
 populism, attempts to form a popular consensus
 about the candidate. Negative statements,
 challenges to policy, are looked down upon.
 Fighting is bad. Hugging is good.

 sometimes it helps to be a bit paranoid, so
 as to examine what might happen, in worst
 case scenarios. for most of the race, i've
 felt that Bush would win, by sheer fact of
 the silence of difference in American culture
 and politics. people are isolated, except
 those in positions of power and wealth, whom
 many emulate in order to succeed. to question
 authority does not help pay the bills, and
 could threaten the ability to pay the bills.
 on the whole, it seems American's prefer a
 simple view of the world, for the most part
 insulated from the chaos outside of our borders.
 President's preach moral values when making
 decisions: things are bad, wrong, immoral.
 President Bill Clinton is especially good
 at moralizing, however hypocritical, and
 has a sure sense of what is right and wrong.
 There is little room for paradox in politics.

 can there be a totalitarian democracy? i've
 been wondering. a fascist democracy? a military-
 state that is a democracy?

 prediction/paranoia was that Bush would have
 a great advantage in the election if a foreign
 policy crisis erupted on the election's clock.
 the Republican militarization of the economy
 could go into Cold-War mode, and the requirement
 for war would again loom large on the horizon.
 Strange, in California on TV, advertisements
 are now constantly running for Boeing and for
 other aerospace companies, as the election
 heats up. They are patriotic ads, but have no
 overt political affiliation. Other than that
 the industry either way is going to be getting
 revenue from the new administration. They show
 images of astronauts and US soldiers in Kosovo.

 the bid for Nader to be included in the debates
 was cancelled by the media and the two party system.

 in all, this symbolizes the great silence in
 America, in all facets of daily life and culture.
 there is a futility in the complexity. madness is
 risked when one knows not all the answers in advance,
 and makes their beliefs public.

 the answer to this silence is a `simple view of
 life', by a vocally religious administration whom
 speak of truth in terms of things being good and
 right. the complexity of disagreement and debate
 could be superceded by a necessity to agree and
 to share the same `values' and, ultimately, beliefs.

 critical thought not only could be considered deviant,
 and in need of reform, but criminal, and in need of
 punishment. imagining this is not the case, that
 this is not what is at stake in this election,
 that this is an extreme possibility based on fear,
 what would such a thing be called if it were true,
 and it took even greater hold in American democracy?

 what if the constitution became a tool for a totalitarian
 regime, wherein all people were required to think alike
 in order to succeed, with law and order as the stabilizer
 for those whom do not agree? this sounds like Seattle and
 Philadelphia and New York and Los Angeles, in that the
 tests to democratic rule were overruled by power. that
 rights were compromised, in order to keep things simple.

 the complexity taking place, just outside of the camera
 lens. it is not news. it is silence. it is not discussion,
 not debate. it is barred from debate. it is not the
 question. nor will it be, in this establishment.

 major change is needed. America is held in a straightjacket
 of entrenched power. sure, someone can grow up and be
 President, of a bank or the nation, if they follow the
 rules. but things won't change that way, not in a large
 enough sense to address the issues at hand. what will
 enable large-scale change? war? civil insurrection?
 something looms, like the night, in the daytime, yet
 it is not talked about, never acknowledged, ignored.
 this silence will need to be crushed. control stops
 this from happening outright. the complexity is that
 it is everyone against everyone, in some sense, and
 everyone with everyone, in another sense. multiplied
 by 180 million or so people, and exponentially the
 complexity abounds. of the myriad issues addressing
 these people, education has become the #1 issue. if
 only children could read and write, everything else
 would fall into place. it is focussed on the gradeschool
 level, kindergarten through 2nd grade or so, little
 people. the future. a noble goal, while leaving all
 other major issues addressing society unaddressed.
 scared. silent. there is no strategy. bouncing back
 and forth between my decision. Do you believe in
 Democracy? writes Paglia in her column.
 vote your conscience, else you promote the corrupt
 system and it cannot be changed. yet, the guilt of
 moderates arises, look at what is at stake, all the
 issues, look at what could be lost, don't be stupid,
 don't vote with your heart, vote with your mind. the
 possibility of not voting and thus canceling the
 personal effect, is questioned. as is the idea that
 if the vote is not cast, why not cast it idealistically,
 for Nader, and for the hope that in four years Nader
 will be included in the debates because of larger
 votes. then, nihilism. promoting the downfall of
 the system by a conscious vote for beliefs. from
 this point of view, American democracy no longer
 seems to function, as it mythically once supposedly
 did. it seems to be more of a political game, than
 a system of governing the state and the people.
 the fear that everyone in America will become the
 next president, in that they will need to accept
 the doctrine at some level, reminds me of how
 things can turn sour, unwittingly. good faith,
 in politics, has never worked. there is some
 grand mal, or some general anesthesia being
 applied to election. The debate coverage,
 saying Bush `won' the debate, because he
 didn't say anything bad, was absurd. The
 behavioral control of Gore was strange,
 the marionette somewhere above the stage,
 public opinion, the media, polls, and pundits.

 was not going to write or send these American
 views to nettime, as American politics today
 are predictable, except for the odd pro-wrestler
 from Minnesota, Jesse Ventura. but sending because
 of a creeping fear of an increasing anti-democratic
 or a totalitarian democracy on the rise in America.
 one where diversity is allowed, as long as everyone
 thinks alike. in the US it is often looking outward
 at other countries and seeing how they should be
 democracies like America. there is hope, maybe in
 Yugoslavia. but realistically, there is little hope,
 it seems, until the special interests stop controlling
 public governance and the human future.

 can democracy be saved? or is it a myth that such
 a method of governance can work in today's society?
 changing the constitution to address the issues seems
 like an impossibility. what are the possibilities then?
 what if the protests continue, the establishment only
 changes piecemeal, things get worse and worse, and
 war powers rise, oil plummets, chaos reigns. what
 then? protest and be thrown in jail? speak out and
 be beaten by conformist citizens? all the while, the
 media cover for the administration. sounds like a
 totalitarian state. it seems nearer and nearer to
 becoming a possibility, given the value given to
 ignorance and simple mindedness in this campaign.

 let loose the dragons, and the world will be in flames.


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