05 September, 2006

Cute Fluffy Bunnies and Kittens And Recipes For Chocolate

I didn't think anyone would bother reading if I called this post what it really is...my wakeup call to American Political Experts. I started pounding these thoughts out in my head over the weekend but got sidetracked by the bright shiny toy of other things and decided to save it for when I was in a more cerebral mood.

As I've chronicalled here before, I was once a hard-track political science person. It was my major and my dream. The first three seasons of The West Wing nicely comprise my fantasy job. Ironically while I dreamed of being Toby, my life's work has turned me into more of a Donna. Note, please, that while she was 'merely' the secretary, Donna did often speak the common sense of the show. Because Aaron Sorkin, Donna and I all know one thing to be true. When you get too far into politics, you lose both your sense of commonality and the notion of basic human intelligence in others. Common sense is so called because it acknowledges that everyone has a working knowledge of intelligence. It gives your fellow man the benefit of the doubt.

People in the high rungs of the game of politics--and it is a game, through and through, to them--have really very little desire to know or care about those civilians who grudgingly vote them off the bench or sentence them to the penalty box. My first notion of this was the 80s double standard about women in politics. The Convential Pundit Wisdom talks about a woman being either too pretty or too plain to be electable. Yes, this is insulting to women who are involved in the game. It assumes that they have no merits beyond decoration.

But it's even more insulting to voters. Because what these little bromides do is betray to all of us exactly what these self-appointed experts think. We are too dumb to listen to a candidate's platform and make decisions based on that. We are sheep to be herded by sound bites.

The best example I can give you is the ongoing discussion about the "whiteness" of Harold Ford, Jr.. Politics junkies--who watch elections in the same way that others watch football, basketball and girl-on-girl porn--are fixated on Ford's run for Senate. His blackness or whiteness is talked about endlessly around Election Handicapping Circles because it ostensibly provides some drama. Apparently to most of these experts, the entire state of Tennessee is peopled with nothing but the cast of Deliverance, who won't truck with no uppity black folk thinkin' they can get themselves eee-lekted Sen-A-TOR. No way! There is absolutely no acknowledgement of Tennesseans as semi-intelligent beings who can and do make decisions based on a variety of factors. Are there some people who won't vote for Ford because he's black? Undoubtedly. There are others who won't vote for Ford because he's untrustworthy. And still others who probably won't vote for either candidate because what's the point? You've already decided that we're too stupid to be represented by honest, decent people and have fronted a bevy of charlatans from which we are to grudgingly pick.

To many politics junkies this is all a game. They'll go for drinks together at the end of the day and laugh about their workplace. Issues that drive the rest of us, that compell us through our lives, are no more than poll number fodder to them. We may care deeply about the war, our religion or our method of birth control. At the end it matters not. More and more our minds are made up for us ahead of time by those who think they know better. Who think they can judge our complex choices by winnowing down our humanity to nothing.

Is Harold Ford Jr. black? Did he have a white grandma? Is Hillary too butch? America, you only get to answer yes or no.

American Political Experts: we are smarter than you think. We're wise to your game. And we'll vote exactly how we please. Go back to the bar and fret over your next consulting gig.


At 7:28 AM, September 06, 2006, Blogger Sarcastro said...

As a fellow failed Poli-Sci major, I wanted to be Martin Sheen. Then, I realized I was watching Apocalypse Now.

Ford's spot on the ChromaKey is irrelevant in the big scheme of things. What is relevant is how he uses his race or color or whatever as a tool to appeal to the voters. Is being light-skinned black (or whatever) a help or a handicap? Does playing up the Cherokee-Irish connection work in Shelby County as well as it works in Sumner County?

Discussing the political wisdom and motivations therein, isn't out of the bounds of civil discourse. Casting aspersions based on race is.


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