American Politics (part 74 of 4958)

Here's today's lesson on American Politics, and why Americans will never be able to understand other people in the world.

The fact is, American's have this cushy view of politics as something not unlike the stock market. It's something everyone "knows" how it works, and therefore, they "know" that it matters the their daily life. But no one really has to know all the details, unless that is your job. Even the Americans who know how it works only know enough about it to make their money off of it. I'm sure we could push this analogy even further until it balances out if we started comparing how much the actually working Capitalist (or the modern day equivalent) really "knows" about work. Not to say that the average labor unionist "knows" much more... but I digress.

In the rest of the world, politics is not something you have a career in, or something that fills a certain proportion of the evening news, or something to have an opinion on when celebrity lifestyles are not giving us that sweet chance to identify with something. Politics is something that happens and you react, because it involves your life.

I received an example of this difference in "politics" today as I walked through Union Square after work. There was this delightful "protest" going on between anti-War and/or anti-Israel protesters and pro-War and/or pro-Israel protesters. It was hard to say who was protesting and who was counter-protesting, because there were only about fifteen people there total. Everyone else was going home from work. Look! I took a picture!

"What protest?" What do you mean, what protest? They have signs... duh! Ok, here:

The Pro-Israel people are in blue, the Not-Pro-Israel (because who could be against Israel???) are in green. Everybody else is not-giving-a-shit and walking right on by, like people do. The three cops were being harangued by one side and then the other, but I'm pretty sure they didn't give a shit either. That's really everyone who was there. A perfect representation of American Politics. Two focus groups, about equal in size, standing politely on either side of the fence... err, sidewalk, sorry, and holding signs that are just about as empty of meaning as they are full of slogan. And look! Two of them are even having a polite, earnest exchange of ideas in the foreground, after which the one with the more logical and sound argument will probably have convinced the other that their side is right. Yay!

On the other hand, let's look at Palestine, the place of the issue that these fine citizens are being oh-so-opinionated about. What do you know, but they have protests there too! Lets look!

Hmm. That doesn't look much like the totally sweet "Democracy" that we have in this country. What went wrong there?

Well, since you asked so nice, I'll let you in on a secret. In a country were bureaucracy is the rule, and we have set up complicated systems to prevent us ever having to give a shit about anything important, there is no actually rule of the people. The system rules itself, because we designed it to, and we spend an awful load of money every year (its called taxes) to make sure we will never have to trouble our pretty little heads with anything more complicated than a cardboard sign. On the other hand, where people's lives are actually threatened, the people actually do rule. And when the people rule, they rule violently, because that's what people are. There is nothing democratic about the rule of the demos. Here in America, we export violence, just like we now export our paperwork and customer service. That's why we have no politics. We only have the shadow of politics.

I'd ask how Americans can sleep at night, but I know how. With the help of Ambien and other sleep-aids, they sleep quite nicely. It's in places where the tear gas wafts into your house at night because the police are storming houses in your neighborhood at 3AM that it becomes difficult to sleep...


Broshaq said...

Reminds me of Barack Hussein Obama's website: you'd never guess if you read it that there was such a thing as political conflict or even politics at all; what's substituted for a meaningful political program (which would necessarily include some people and shut other people out) is an anti-political idea about feeling good about America and doing good things. It's a little like that RFK movie that came out a while ago, nothing to do with RFK, everything to do with feelin' good.

Adam Rothstein said...

I like how you use his middle name to refer to Mssr. Obama. I don't know if you ever heard about it, but there was a New York Post article called "10 Things You Should Know About Obama" and his middle name was one of them. They posed the pertinent question, "Do we really want to put another Hussein in power?"

But yeah, I think every American political movie that I can think of is pretty much political in that it is a "feel good" film. Even films like Malcolm X or, dare I say, Schindler's List seem to evoke righteousness rather than any actual activity. And next to bliss I would say American's favorite emotion to evoke is righteousness. Righteousness is something we can all unite in experiencing.