It was Frank Zappa who described politics as ‘the entertainment division of the military-industrial complex.’ I mention that wonderfully cynical observation by the late musician as if there was ever a time for cynicism, we’re living in it. Cynics aren’t the same as pessimists or satirists. A pessimist looks at the world, sees it is wrong, and hides. A satirist looks at the world, sees it is wrong, and exaggerates its flaws. A cynic however looks at the world, sees it is wrong, and gives it a cuff across the back of the head.
One more quote before we get into the heart of the action for today and this time I will, with complete immodesty, quote myself. ‘Democracy is a wonderful idea; the universal franchise, a terrible one.’ I like to toss that one in now and then just to enjoy the gape-mouthed reactions. After all, every election cycle we are drowned in messages from every possible medium telling us to Vote! Vote! Vote! It is our duty! Responsibility! Shame the non-voter! Vote! Vote! Vote! For the love of God, why?
Let us broadly, yet not evenly, divide the available electorate into two groups: those that study the issues, events of the day, the histories and stated views of the available candidates and make a reasoned choice based on who they believe is the best person to eradicate wrongs and advance rights. As for the rest, well they can mistake a slogan for a policy paper, an appearance of body for a wellness of mind, or (to borrow a famous US phrase) one candidate gives off the feeling that he or she is someone you’d buy a used car from. As just one slightly trivial example, since the dawn of photography the taller of the two major party Presidential candidates has won, except for Barack Obama in 2012 (edged out by Mitt Romney by an inch) and George W. Bush in 2000 (and Al Gore won the popular vote). Now is that coincidence or evidence? You make the call.
This is why I don’t encourage anyone to vote unless it is someone whose intelligence I respect, even if we happen to disagree. To do otherwise is to effectively negate one’s own vote. Why should I risk my vote – based on reading manifestos, past positions, and as wide an intake of sane and substantial news media as one can swallow in days spread over years – being negated by some dunderhead who votes for someone because he looks vaguely like their late Uncle Ned who fixed their bicycle chain back in 1972?
I suppose really what I seem to be advocating some form of an intelligence test for voters except the historical evidence resounds with proof that any such system would be an even worse idea. Certain of the former break-away Confederate States had what they called a ‘literacy test’ before allowing a citizen to register for the voters’ list. Well, literacy seems like a good idea doesn’t it? Ah. White people were given a sheet of paper with See Spot Run or the equivalent printed on it to read aloud. Blacks were handed a page of Chinese. So it’s not so much that an intelligence test is a bad idea … I just wouldn’t trust anyone in developing it.
I have mentioned all this not to announce my candidacy for head of the Monarchist League, but as a means of entry into the confounding and highly relevant question of, How in hell did 63 million Americans go off their collective nut and vote Donald J Trump as President, and from the latest polls 83 per cent of those still approve of his performance? As you are a reader of lively written, progressive media such as The London Economic, that question has to have puzzled your mind as well.
The answers are too many and too long to be contained in one column. Long Reads may be fashionable these days; ‘Take the Day Off Work Reads’, less so. Therefore, I am going to break it all up into four manageable sections which in combination should – I hope – supply both a diagnosis and a prescription for the disease chewing through the body politic’s inner organs. Those four sections will be:
- The historical roots of American voting patterns.
- American election laws (or lack thereof).
- Manipulation of the electorate by moneyed interests.
- Foreign interference.
Because the Trump Administration, the Mueller investigation, and a strongly-based rumour advanced by Claude Taylor (@TrueFactsStated) that indictments are coming later this week can and might lead to a breaking of any plan in order to cover fresh news, I cannot guarantee that the four sections will appear in consecutive daily order. Can someone take the President’s damn phone away from him for a few days? Pretty please?
Be seeing you.